Todd Snider’s “D.B. Cooper” Still Drinks Champagne
In recent weeks, there have been a flurry of stories about a possible break in the D.B. Cooper hijacking case. FBI agents were using DNA evidence in an attempt to link a now-deceased suspect to Cooper. But ultimately the tests were inconclusive because the DNA samples found on the D.B. Cooper’s tie did not match the suspect. With all of the recent interest in D.B. Cooper, though, it is a great time to revisit Todd Snider’s great song about the man.
In November 1971, an unidentified man reported as “D.B. Cooper” boarded a flight in Portland, Oregon. On the flight, he handed a note to a flight attendant claiming he had a bomb and asking for parachutes and $200,000 in twenty-dollar bills. At a stop at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, officials met the demands, and Cooper released the passengers. After refueling, the plane once again took off with Cooper and the crew on board. At some point during the flight, Cooper apparently opened a door and parachuted out of the plane with the cash into the night and a raging storm.
Cooper was never found, and in later years various discoveries contributed to the puzzle. Through the years, new findings often raised speculations, although usually it would turn out the evidence was not connected to the hijacking.
The best thing about the Cooper news is that it gives us a chance to listen to one of my favorite Todd Snider songs, aptly named “D.B. Cooper.” Todd Snider is a singer-songwriter who tells great stories with his songs. Snider has noted that one of his greatest influences is Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and it shows in his music and presentation. A Washington Post recent review of Snider’s latest live CD, Todd Snider Live: The Storyteller, explains that Snider is “one hell of a performer, having built up a cult following thanks to nearly 20 years of concerts that double as side-splitting storytelling sessions.”
Snider’s song “D.B. Cooper,” from the CD Happy to Be Here (2000), recounts the story of D.B. Cooper fairly accurately, combining a bit of poetic license and childhood memory to make the tale an excellent song. The folk story is both timeless and of a pre-9/11 time, as the song gives a somewhat heroic take on an outlaw’s adventure such as in classic songs about Pretty Boy Floyd and Jesse James. And because the recent breaking news led to another dead end, one might imagine along with Snider: “Not far away from the City of Roses / A light shined from a house out in the rain / It was D.B. Cooper / Drinking champagne.”
You may hear the original full-band version from the album at this link.