Loudon Wainwright III

Dead Skunk

Composed by Loudon Wainwright III

Song Review by

A story goes that Loudon Wainwright III's "Dead Skunk" was a pointed attack at then-president Richard Nixon; perhaps it's true, but Wainwright himself has only ever gone on the record saying that the song was a happy accident -- he claims he wrote it in 15 minutes. Taken from his 1973 effort, Album III, "Dead Skunk" hit the Top 20 that same year. Its sound can best be described as novelty/singalong -- a simple, almost forgettable tune with a basic country-rock backing track. But the refrain, "dead skunk in the middle of the road, stinking to high heaven," was the part that connected with the record-buying public. In the early '70s, it was still possible to get a song like "Dead Skunk" on the radio, as the Top 40 format embraced everything from R&B and hard rock to singer/songwriter folk. It's a feat that Wainwright III was never able to duplicate, though he continued to perform as a singer/songwriter nearly 30 years later. As he told the magazine DISCoveries, "...consider myself very lucky to be doing something that I really like to do."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rock On! [Columbia] 1972
Various Artists
No Image 1974
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 10 1990
Various Artists
Rhino 3:08
70's Greatest Rock Hits, Vol. 10: Hitchin' a Ride 1998
Various Artists
Priority Records
Singers and Songwriters: Mavericks 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
No Image 2004
Various Artists
The Songwriter Collection 2006
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:06
Dead Skunk: The Complete Columbia Collection 2007 Acadia / Sony BMG 3:08
40 Odd Years 2011 Shout! Factory 3:07
Live at the Cactus Cafe: The Classic 1990 Radio Broadcast 2013 All Access 2:51
Late Night Calls 2015 Good Ship Funke / Music Video Distribution 3:44
blue highlight denotes editor's pick