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Songwriter overwhelmed with success of 'United Breaks Guitars'

Dave Carroll has become an Internet sensation with his revenge song on YouTube

HALIFAX — A broken guitar is turning out to be a major break for Halifax musician Dave Carroll.

Carroll has become an Internet sensation after posting a revenge song on YouTube about United Airlines’ baggage handlers breaking his guitar during a flight in the United States.

His video for the song “United Breaks Guitars” was posted on the popular file-sharing site Monday night and had received more than 600,000 hits by Thursday evening.

He’s also received thousands of emails and a flood of friend requests on Facebook.

“I was thinking I’d definitely get some action on (YouTube) because the song has been resonating so well with audiences as I’ve been performing it, but I didn’t know it would take off like this,” Carroll said Thursday.

“It’s been a whirlwind and the craziest two days of my life.”

On the same day as Michael Jackson’s memorial service Tuesday, Carroll’s video was one of the most watched on YouTube.

Carroll, 41, said it’s ironic that his video has gotten far more attention than anything he’s ever done in 15 years as a musician.

“Every musician wants to get their stuff out there. I just didn’t necessarily expect it to happen in this way.”

Carroll, a guitarist for the pop-rock group Sons of Maxwell, might have to scrap plans to take it easy this summer as he fields calls for appearances.

Since the clip started generating publicity online, Carroll’s schedule has been packed with interviews. Even Oprah’s people called Thursday afternoon.

Along with emailed stories from people who empathize with his broken guitar and damaged luggage, Carroll has received a stream of requests for gigs from as far away as Las Vegas.

The catchy song recounts Carroll’s year-long struggle to get compensation for what he calls “a vicious act of malice” at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last year.

Carroll was flying between Halifax and Nebraska when he switched planes in Chicago. The passenger next to him noticed baggage handlers tossing guitar cases outside the plane.

Initially, Carroll thought his Taylor guitar was destroyed. Even after paying $1,400 in repairs, he said it still doesn’t play the way it used to but he keeps it for sentimental reasons. He played it on all eight of his band’s albums.

The 41-year-old songwriter spent the past year trying to get compensation from United Airlines. When the airline refused to take responsibility, the songwriter made the humorous music video and posted it online.

Robin Urbanski Janikowski, a spokesperson for United, said Thursday in an email to The Canadian Press that Carroll’s story “has struck a chord with us.”

“We are in conversations with one another to make what happened right,” she said.

“While we mutually agree that this should have been fixed much sooner, Dave Carroll’s excellent video provides United with a unique learning opportunity that we would like to use for training purposes to ensure all customers receive better service from us.”

Janikowski called Carroll’s experience “an anomaly, not the norm,” saying United successfully transports thousands of checked bags each day.

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