Great Moments in Pedantry: Fact-checking "Don't Fear the Reaper"


The lyrics make reference to Romeo and Juliet. Could they mean 40,000 suicides? Possibly include death by Darwin? Single car fatalities? Any video on youtube involving amateurs and explosives?


this is how i always took the meaning of the song: 40,000 suicides.

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Though I doubt that 1/3 of all deaths are suicides…

(most deaths are people that Bill and Hillary Clinton had murdered or let die #Whitewater #Benghazi)


Ah I remember seeing one of those moral panic o’the 80s school movies in some assembly, we were excited to hear the Blue Oyster clip in addition to the other great Satan bands, the rest is such camp in memory.

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Come on, Maggie (you can be like they are)

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That doesn’t work either unfortunately.

About 1,000,000 Suicides annually, or about 2740/day. They’re still off by a factor of 14.6.


You can get most of the way there by parsing it as 40,000 “men and women”, as in pairs, as in 80,000 individuals. Pair that with a couple of these other post hoc explanations and I bet you can get the numbers to line up.

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Geeze, isn’t it obvious what they were referring to? 40320 is the smallest factorial that is not a highly composite number.

And yes, they rounded, but for fuck’s sake they were a rock band, not a band of mathematicians, so I’d say they NAILED IT!


Since this is a pedantic post, I will politely point out that it is spelled Blue Öyster Cult.


So, was anybody else stoked to hear the name Stormbringer pop up on Game of Thrones? (on topic-ish due to Blue Öyster Cult’s Elric-inspired song “Black Blade”)


Forty-thousand men and women every day x 3 = 120,000

Check and mate.


For some reason, when I was a kid in the early 80s, I thought the song was referencing the Vietnam War. That’s wrong too, I see, but that was my guess at the 40,000 number. We didn’t have internet back then.

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Which is still short by at least 20,000.

Forty (40) is symbolic in Christianity for completion, adequateness. The jews roamed the desert for 40 years, the flood was forty days and forty nights, etc.

Could the meaning of 40,000 be of similar meaning?

Here’s the problem with this article: not enough cowbell.


Yeah, it’s not as if they had a Brian May on board.


Well they totally nailed it in that song “22,000 days” if you figure their average life expectancy at birth, assuming they were born in the 40’s and also guesstimate that “Blue Oyster Cult” ~ “The Moody Blues” (w/in an order of magnitude).

Mitch Hedberg said, “I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.”

So, to apply Mitch Hedberg logic to Blue Öyster Cult, 40,000 people die everyday. An additional 100,000 people die every day too, but 40,000 people DO die every day.


Maybe the day with the lowest number of deaths in 1976 had only 40,000 people dying, so that’s all they can say and still remain technically accurate?