BTCEB No 15
Isn’t funny. No one has seemed to write a great song about bicycles. The only songs I can think of are “Daisy Bell” (better known as “Bicycle Built for Two”) by Harry Dacre, “Bike” by Pink Floyd, “Bicycle Race” by Queen and “Tour de France” by Kraftwerk.
There had been plenty of songs about cars. Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys based a good portion of their careers around car songs. Let’s not forget other classics such as “Terraplane Blues” by Robert Johnson or “Highway Star” by Deep Purple. Boy, if there ever was a song that was designed specifically to make you want to break the speed limit, this is it.
Are bikes somehow beneath such poetic musings? Do they lack an inner light that cars possess?
While bikes may easily lend themselves to titles like “Broken Chain Blues” or “Flat Tire Blues”, “ somehow I can’t see HammerFall recording “Rocking the Single Track of Valhalla” or Lil Jon busting out with “Crunk Juice and Cable Housing”.
Perhaps its because cyclist are more seen as Pee Wee Herman and Ed Begley Jr. types rather than as debonair Daniel Craigs or two fisted Kimbo Slices.
I’m not sure what can be done to help change that perception. I’m pretty sure the kitted out racer stud and drainpipe pant hipster looks don’t help very much. Thank goodness neon colored riding jerseys have fallen by the wayside or had been mercifully recycled into Patagonia fleece.
Obviously some concessions have to be made for the sake of comfort and performance. Take it from me Levi 501s makes for pretty lousy riding gear.
While there have been bicycle themed bands, Bike and The Delgados (named after a former Tour de France winner), neither had catapulted themselves into the realm of superstardom. And while both Neil Peart of Rush and Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine are avid cyclists neither have penned a song on that subject.
I guess people feel as if bikes are too reminiscent of childhood and that isn’t really all that rock and roll. With perhaps the exception of the song “Scraper Bike” by Trunk Boiz hip-hop may have avoided the subject all together. Both country and jazz seem utterly devoid or bicycle songs too. Perhaps it’s the perception that bikes are for kids and adults who ride bikes are either poor or effete suburbanites.
Also, I think there are a lot of people who think pro cycling starts and stops with Lance Armstrong. Nothing against the guy, but he’s not the first person to have won the Tour de France… I think that lack of historical understanding shuts out a lot of people from a lot of dramatic material that could be easily mined for songs. Marco Pantani (descent into madness and possible suicide) would be a good subject, so would Fabio Casartelli (a promising young rider killed in a crash in the Pyrenees), Tom Simpson (died while climbing Mont Ventoux while intoxicated), Ottavio Bottechia (unsolved murder) or even Raymond Poulidor (a perpetual “second” in the Tour, c’mon, every one loves an underdog) would make for good songs.
(I’m sure that some one could write some songs about Myles Rockwell and Missy Giove serving long stretches in the pokey but perhaps that is “too soon”.)
So come on you creative types, put pen to paper, fire up your amplifiers or spin some turn tables because I want to hear some rockin’ good tune about bikes. Seriously, how hard can it be? I’m afraid, however, that until Motorhead blasts the audience with songs like “I’ll be Your Shock Pump”, or Outkast gets a Grammy for “Perfectly Buff Trail” that making broader cultural inroads is going to be a long ways off.