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Protest against airline a YouTube sensation

Musician Dave Carroll of the pop-folk band Sons Of Maxwell holds his repaired Taylor guitar in Halifax.

ANDREW VAUGHAN

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

Mr. 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 yesterday evening.

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He's also received thousands of e-mails 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," Mr. Carroll said yesterday .

"It's been a whirlwind and the craziest two days of my life."





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

Mr. Carroll, 41, said it's ironic that his video has got far more attention than anything he's 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."

Mr. 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.

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Since the clip started generating publicity online, his schedule has been packed with interviews. Even Oprah's people called yesterday afternoon.

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

The catchy song recounts his year-long struggle to get compensation for what he calls "a vicious act of malice" at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago last year.

Mr. 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, Mr. 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.

He 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.

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Every musician wants to get their stuff out there. I just didn't necessarily expect it to happen in this way Dave Carroll




Robin Urbanski Janikowski, a spokeswoman for United, said on Thursday in an email that Mr. 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."

Ms. Janikowski called Mr. Carroll's experience "an anomaly, not the norm," saying United successfully transports thousands of checked bags each day.

Some fans have praised Mr. Carroll in e-mails for dealing with the problem in what they say is a distinctly Canadian way.

"They appreciate the high road that I've taken with the light-hearted approach to it and they say they're proud to be Canadian because of it," he said.

Taylor Guitars in California got in touch to say the company would be happy to see whether it could repair the damaged guitar. It also promised a big discount on his next purchase.

The video was shot in 12 hours with friends dressing up as flight attendants and musicians. Volunteer firemen played the baggage handlers who are shown playing catch with the guitar case and tossing it like a hammer throw.

Mr. Carroll initially told United he would write three songs about his broken guitar. He plans to debut the second song in the next few weeks but hasn't written the third one yet.

He said it remains to be seen whether his story will be "a love story or a tragedy."

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