The Felice Brothers' Dallas.
There are a ton of songs about or inspired by Dallas, and they say a lot about who we are. So each week in this space, we'll take a closer week at one of these songs — and we'll try to determine what, exactly, they say about this great city of ours. Check out this feature's archives here.
The Felice Brothers have gone from busking in New York subways to touring the country on the strength of their blend of Americana and revivalist folk tunes, and churning out five proper releases along the way.
But the Upstate New York-launched band's most recent album, 2011's Celebration, Florida (named after a failed Walt Disney-owned residential development), is quote a departure from the group's earlier works, incorporating bits of hip-hop rhythms and electronic textures into the palette.
And, on that album, the band offers up a cut called “Dallas,” a wistful tale of a late-night talk show host reminiscing about his early days in the business while stuck aboard a jet unable to takeoff on a return flight to New York due to inclement weather. After a three-night run at a place called The Palace, the song's subject is so eager to return home that he doesn't care if doing so would put him or the other passengers in danger. Sings Ian Felice in that song: “The runway is set, let's move this fucking jet / I have to go despite all the sleet and snow.”
The Palace, possibly, is a reference to the old Palace Theater that used to sit near several similar establishments on Elm Street — places like The Melba, The Tower, The Rialto, The Capitol, The Telenews, The Fox, The Strand and The Majestic, which combined to make up Dallas' Theatre Row. Sadly, each of these spots, with the exception of the still-standing Majestic, were demolished in the '70s.
One thing, however, is certain: Weather conditions should never be ignored as far as commercial flights are concerned.
One American Eagle pilot learned this lesson firsthand during a flight leaving the DFW International Airport bound for Longview on March 24, 1987. After ignoring wind information and “taking off in weather conditions that exceeded the rated capabilities of the aircraft,” the plane eventually crashed, sliding off the runway and into an adjacent taxiway.
Fortunately, none of the 11 people aboard the plane were seriously injured.
Others haven't been so lucky. Since 1983, 185 people have been killed in incidents involving planes headed to or from DFW. The deadliest of these occurred on August 2, 1985 when a Lockheed L-1011 coming from Fort Lauderdale encountered a severe microburst on approach and crashed just north of the airport, killing eight of the 11 crew members, 128 of the 152 passengers on board and one poor soul on the ground.
As gruesome as the above-mentioned crashes may sound, though, they're not too bad when one considers that DFW serves over 150,000 daily passengers and nearly 60,000,000 annually. That's enough to rank the airport as the eighth busiest in the world. And, somewhat impressively, the airport handles all those passengers with just 155 gates and seven runways.
But DFW Airport is more than just a commercial hub. When one factors in the nearly 600,000 tons of cargo that DFW also handles on an annual basis, the airport ranks as fourth-busiest one in the world in terms of overall operations. And, make no mistake, cargo operations are a big part of what sets DFW apart from its nationwide competition. The industry publication Air Cargo World once ranked DFW as “The Best Cargo Airport in the World.”
As one might imagine, it takes an awful lot of infrastructure to handle traffic of that magnitude, and DFW International certainly has massive amounts of that. The airport owns over 17,200 acres of property, and the airport itself accounts for more than 26 square miles. To put this in perspective: The entire 14,500 acres of New York City's Manhattan Island would fit inside the airport's grounds — and with room to spare.
Furthermore, when Terminal D was opened in 2005, it also included a new eight-level parking garage equipped with “Smart Parking” technology that informed drivers how many spaces were open on each level. With the addition of those 8,100 spaces, the airport's on-site parking portfolio was officially raised to 39,988, giving DFW the largest on-site parking capacity of any airport in the world.
And yet, despite being at one of the busiest places on earth, the Felice Brothers close their song with a line about just how isolated their character feels aboard a Dallas-sitting jet.
When he sings “I never in my life felt so alone,” the depths of his homesickness aren't hard to feel — perhaps proving that, just as the band's sound has grown in the past two years, so too has the depths of the narratives they paint.