Arrow-right Camera
News >  Spokane

Doug Clark: Music’s the best cure for airsickness

I’m back from the Big Apple to the land of the Bob Apple.

Contrary to vicious rumor or Police Guild no-confidence vote, my recent absence was not due to termination or sex rehab.

I was away on vacation. And a week of my disappearing act was spent with my lovely wife, Sherry, in New York City where we enjoyed the sophisticated sights, sounds and smells of Manhattan culture.

New York isn’t so much different than Spokane, really. Just more people jabbering rudely into cell phones in other languages.

On Sunday, I plan to tell you about the civic pride we experienced watching the Broadway production of “A Behanding in Spokane.” First, however, I want to make my column comeback with a song in my heart.


Our recent flights to and from the East Coast inspired me to finish and record “Cattle Cars That Fly,” the song I wrote about my general contempt for the airline industry.

I’m so sick of being inspected and subjected to the miseries of modern air travel: the cramped seats, the foul air. The zombie-eyed flight attendants who wouldn’t lose a second’s sleep if you choked to death on your in-flight sawdust snack cookie.

So to vent, I spent Tuesday in the recording studio with Joe Brasch, my amigo and guitar-slinging bandmate. Not to mention music producer extraordinaire.

I put down a rhythm guitar track and sang the vocal.

Joe, a top pro, twisted all the knobs, provided a bass part and picked some incredible lead guitar.

But perhaps Joe’s biggest accomplishment was talking me into playing a few cornet lines at the end of the song.

I tried to tell Joe that I gave up my trumpeter aspirations when I dropped out of the Eastern Washington University music program about, oh, 38 years ago.

But Joe had faith in me. And I was actually surprised that I could still toot out a passable Herb Alpert impression.

(Note to all my buddies sitting in the Spokane Symphony trumpet section: Your jobs are safe.)

You’re welcome to hear what we came up with on the S-R’s Web site, Or you can read the lyrics below and add your own internal melody.

Either way, I’m fairly certain my distaste for the commercial airline industry will register with anyone who has ever been ordered to “put your tray tables up.”

‘Cattle Cars that Fly’

Headed for the airport

With our baggage in hand.

Facing hours of misery

Before we ever land.

We must be all insane,

Or really into pain.

Scrutinized in lines

That stretch longer and longer.

Ol’ lady in a wheelchair

Must be a shoe-bomber.

They just rolled her away.

Hopes she likes Guantanamo Bay.

So hop on board, we’re gonna fly unfriendly skies.

Stuck in the middle seat between two big fat guys.

On Cattle Cars that Fly.

Twenty-six thousand feet,

Feeling like death.

Inhaling everybody’s

Gross peanuty breath.

Makes me wanna gag.

But now they charge for airsick bags.

So get on board, we’re gonna fly unfriendly skies.

Wedged in a middle seat between those thunder thighs.

On Cattle Cars that Fly.

Flight for me,

Once had such majesty.

But now, you see,

It’s such a travesty.

Pray for me.

So get on board, we’re gonna fly unfriendly skies.

Hunched in the middle seat with my knees between my eyes.

On Cattle Cars that Fly.

If I could go back,

To the dawn of flight.

I’d take along a gun,

And blow away the Brothers Wright.

Or if I was feeling rude,

I’d make ’em eat airline food.

So come with me, we’re gonna fly unfriendly skies.

Stuck in the middle seat between two big fat guys.

On Cattle Cars that Fly.

Whoa, whoa, whoa …

Cattle Cars that Fly.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at