Originally Released on:


also appears on:

  • Death Valley '69 7" (demo)
  • Death Valley '69 EP
  • The Walls Have Ears (twice - live '85)
  • Hold That Tiger (live '87)
  • Gila Monster Jamboree video (live '85)
  • Live in Columbus video (live '85)
  • Screaming Fields of Sonic Love
  • Screaming Fields of Sonic Love video
  • Smart Bar - Chicago 1985 (live 1985)
  • 05/28/98 "LIVE IN LOS ANGELES 1998"
  • 10/21/09 "LIVE IN BERLIN 2009"
  • 08/12/11 "LIVE IN BROOKLYN 2011"

  • Plow! (demo - alt. mix)
  • Hysterie
  • Indie City 1
  • The Best of CMJ 1979-1989
  • The Indie Scene 85
  • Vox Hot Couture
  • Going Underground
  • Rough Trade Shops 25 Years
  • Be True

Thurston - vocals/guitar
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar/backing vocals
Bob Bert - drums
Lydia Lunch - vocals

Lyrics   status: confirmed

[Lydia's lines in brackets when they differ]

Coming down
Sadie I love it
Now now now
Death Valley '69

You're right
You're right
You're right
You're right
You're right [You were right]
I was on the wrong track
We're deep in the valley
How deep in the gulley
And now in the canyon
Way out in the yonder
She started to holler
She started to holler
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
But she started to holler
So I had to hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Deep in the valley
In the trunk of an old car
In the back of a Chevy
I got sand in my mouth [You got sand in yr mouth]
And you got sun in yr eyes [I got sun in my eyes]
And you wanted to get there
But I couldn't go faster [I wanted to get there]
And it couldn't go faster [But you couldn't go faster]
So I started to hit it [You couldn't go faster]
So I started to hit it
And I started to hit it [Hit it]
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it

Coming down
Sadie I love it
Now now now
Death Valley '69
Death Valley '69
Death Valley '69
Death Valley '69

Track length: 5:10 (5:22)

First Known Performance: 06/30/84
Last Known Performance:  11/14/11


  • First track length is original Blast First sequence, bracketed time is DGC reissue.
  • Lyrics written by Thurston (chorus) & Lydia (verses).
  • Lee sings Lydia's part on Gila Monster Jamboree & The Walls Have Ears (I think he sang it at most shows between January and March '85, and it sounds fucking awesome!), most other versions post mid '85 just lack a second vocal.
  • Death Valley '69 was Sonic Youth's first music video, directed by Richard Kern. Both Bob Bert and Steve Shelley appear, in various states of bloody dismemberment.
  • Kool Thing's working title was 'DV 2', referencing the similarity to the riffs (due to the tuning). It was common to hear a Death Valley teaser during the intro of 'Kool Thing' during the Goo tour (see 'The Year Punk Broke').
  • The Steve Shelley version of DV69 on the Walls Have Ears is labelled as "Spahn Ranch Dance".
  • Jim played guitar on this song while he was in the band.
  • For the 1998 "A Thousand Leaves" tour, SY's set were comprised entirely of 'Leaves' + SYR material, except for 'Death Valley '69' which was performed in essentially every encore (later joined by 'Shadow of a Doubt'). It was last played live in 2000, but was soundchecked in 2006.


  • '84 7-inch demo version

  • On "Gila Monster Jamboree" - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 1/5/85 in the Mojave Desert. Released on home video. Lee sings Lydia's part.

  • On "Walls Have Ears" - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 4/28/85 at the Hammersmith Palais in London. Features Lee singing Lydia's part again.

  • On "Live in Columbus" - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 8/1/85 at Stache's in Columbus, Ohio. Steve on drums now. Released on Atavistic home video.

  • "Smart Bar - Chicago 1985" - LIVE - 7:20

    Recorded live 08/11/85 Chicago, IL @ Smart Bar.

  • Live version on "Walls Have Ears" as "Spahn Ranch Dance"

  • On "Hold That Tiger" - LIVE - 4:50

    Recorded live on 10/14/87 at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago, Illinois.