Deli Premiere: Lizzie Donohue’s “Virgin Suicide” is an early contender for Song of the Summer

photo by Yoshiki Murata

Eagle-eyed readers may remember how last June there was a Deli column re: the unofficially designated Official Song of the Summer™ (even if it was observed to be a “hackneyed premise” at the time, but hey we’re not above a little hackery) and thus you may be wondering why The Deli has yet to nominate any entries for Summer Song of 2022™ because summer officially starts in only four days and what are ya gonna listen to come 6/21 without our sage advice?

Ok, since you asked nicely (!) we’ll get you started because there’s a song that just came out today that happens to check off a good number of the requisite summer song boxes and that’s “Virgin Suicide” by Lizzie Donohue


But how is this song "summery" exactly you may ask? (good question!) For one thing, it opens with a sprightly drum beat, and sprightly drum beats have been associated with summer since at least the Summer of 1969. And then the bass guitar plays the notes one-by-one of a major triad, and major triads have been associated with summer since at least the Summer of 1963. And then, still just a few seconds in, the intro culminates with a spirited shriek, and shrieking has been associated with summer since at least the Summer of 1964.

So right from the start “Virgin Suicide” sets a beach blanket “let’s twist at the beach” vibe musically, but the opening stanza tells another story: “Oh sweet baby / you’re doubling down and going ‘round / I can’t take this roller coaster ride / little virgin suicide” and as Lizzie herself put it to us, “Sonically I love a song with dark lyrics and catchy, happy, dance-y music” which actually fits perfectly with the longstanding summer tradition of mixing the flavours—both the light and the dark, the sun and the shade—during the longest days of the years.

RIP Julee Cruise…

Case in point re: mixing the flavours: the book and the movie The Virgin Suicides which both in their own ways mix a sweet-as-apple-pie-hazy-lazy-languorously-sensual vibe with the tragedy of, well, virgins committing suicide—a book which Lizzie had self-reportedly been obsessed with since the age of 13 which is an important number symbolically in the book so isn’t that interesting? Also interesting is that none other than The Criterion Collection is putting out a deluxe edition of the movie on home video later this summer so hey I smell a cross-promotional tie-in opportunity for Miss Lizzie here just sayin’.

Clearly, neither the book nor the movie would work at all if they were set in the dead of winter, or any other season besides summer really, so isn’t that interesting too, but not nearly as interesting as drunk kids getting their kicks in the bathroom and your tongue getting so numb that you’ll talk to anyone to paraphrase from the lyrics. And to quote again from Ms. Donohue: “For me the story represents the fetisization and dehumanization of young girls—particularly sad young girls” and if someone doesn’t start a band called Sad Young Girls after reading this I shall be terribly disappointed. 

And would you like to know some backstory re: the creation of “Virgin Suicide”? Sure you would! Again, straight from the source: “I recorded the guitar and vocals in my bedroom. I really wanted that DIY Julien Casablancas tube-effect vocal sound. The bass and drums were done over at The Creamery in Brooklyn (shoutout to Quinn [McCarthy] who engineered) with Dylan Kelly and Jensen Meeker who played on the track.

And finally, for this critic what really takes the cake (by the way Lizzie describes “Virgin Suicide” as being the musical equivalent of vanilla cake flavored ice cream but not equivalent to an (inevitably stale) ice cream cake) is the sweet vocal harmonies that come in near the song’s conclusion which is overall the song’s most summery quality in this writer’s humble opinion, and also adds extra oomph to the song’s concluding sentiment: “I don’t wanna die a little virgin suicide / and it might be rad / I just don’t think my mom and dad / would like to find me like that.” (Jason Lee)