"Death Valley '69" is a song by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth and featuring Lydia Lunch. The song was written and sung by Thurston Moore and fellow New York musician Lunch, and recorded by Martin Bisi in 1984.

"Death Valley '69"
Single by Sonic Youth featuring Lydia Lunch
from the album Bad Moon Rising
B-side"Brave Men Run (In My Family)"
ReleasedDecember 1984
RecordedJuly 1984
GenreNoise rock, no wave
Songwriter(s)Robert Bertelli, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, , Lydia Lunch
Producer(s)Sonic Youth, Clint Ruin
Sonic Youth single singles chronology
"Death Valley '69"
Death Valley '69
EP by
Sonic Youth featuring Lydia Lunch
ReleasedJune 1985
GenreNoise rock, no wave
LabelBlast First, Homestead
Sonic Youth EP chronology
Kill Yr Idols
''Death Valley '69''
Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauD[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[3]

A demo version of the song was released in December 1984 on Iridescence Records. A re-recorded version was released in EP format with different artwork in June 1985; this version was featured on their second studio album, Bad Moon Rising.

Music video


The video for "Death Valley '69" was filmed in 1985 and was the first music video by Sonic Youth, directed by Judith Barry and Richard Kern.[4] The video features the majority of the band in various states of bloody dismemberment interlaced with live footage of the band. It also stars alternative model Lung Leg.

The video is the only one by Sonic Youth to feature drummers Bob Bert and Steve Shelley. Bert recorded the drum parts for the song, but amicably quit the band and was replaced by Shelly by the time the video was recorded.

Critical reception


The song was ranked number 10 among the "Tracks of the Year" for 1985 by NME.[5]

Byron Coley of Spin called it, "a creepy-crawl through Spahn Ranch with guest howls by the Love Kitten of the Hate Generation"[6] John Leland said the band, "massaged their guitars with drumsticks and screwdrivers. This is an art band playing straight up—kicking the shit out of a hairy, Stooges-type riff with no thought to subtleties. The lyrics spiral in fragments off the homicidal side of either Flannery O'Connor or benzedrine."[7]

Cover versions


Soundgarden included a sample of the song on the track Smokestack Lightning from the band's Ultramega OK album in 1988.[8]

The italian comedy punk band Karashow included a 1'39" version of the song in their 2009 release "Killer HH".

Track listing

1984 version
  1. "Death Valley '69" – 5:32
  2. "Brave Men Run (In My Family)" – 3:48
1985 version
  1. "Death Valley '69"
  2. "I Dream I Dreamed"
  3. "Inhuman"
  4. "Brother James"
  5. "Satan Is Boring"


Sonic Youth
Additional personnel


  1. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Death Valley '69 – Sonic Youth | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Sonic Youth". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "Sonic Youth: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Atkinson, Terry (1987-02-08). "Sound & Vision:'Death Valley '69' Is Hot". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  6. ^ Byron Coley (August 1985). "Sonic Youth". Spin. No. 4. p. 52.
  7. ^ John Leland (November 1985). "Singles". Spin. No. 6. p. 36.
  8. ^ Chick, Stevie (5 November 2009). Chick, Steve. "Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story". ISBN 9780857120540.