by Victor Wanchena
Motorcycles and music have long been partners. I love listening to music; especially on longer rides. Some prefer the noise of the wind or their motor. I prefer a good tune. Two years ago, I dared to declare the best and worst songs about motorcycling (MMM issue #75). Some agreed with me, others were irate. I stand by my picks. But time has moved on and some new songs have come to light. What follows are some more of the best and worst songs about motorcycles.
Best: “Cycle Annie” – The Beachnuts. There are a lot of surf songs about motorcycles. Most of them bad. This number by The Beachnuts stands out because the lead vocals are by Lou Reed. The result is Velvet Underground meets the Beach Boys; weird and good at the same time.
“Riding With The Driver” – Motörhead. My wife hates them. I like them. They are loud and ugly to say the least. Love or hate Mötorhead, there are few songs better fit for Hwy 2 west of Ruby, ND at O’dark thirty in the morning.
“Call Me The Breeze” – J.J. Cale. Long before Lynyrd Skynyrd screwed it up, a guy named J.J. Cale wrote and recorded this song. It’s a classic open road song. If you haven’t heard of Cale, you’ve heard of the people who do covers of his songs. Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty, just to name a few.
“Long Way Round” – Stereophonic. Recorded by Stereophonic as the theme song for the television show of the same name. The back story is that Ewan McGregor, the star of Long Way Round, knew the lead singer from Stereophonic and asked him to write a song for the show. The result is a great song about the need to go for a long ride.
Worst: “Yum Yum Yamaha” – Carol Connors. She recorded this song as Yamaha’s answer to the Hondell’s Little Honda. It was everything Little Honda wasn’t. If you hear this song you will role your Yamaha out to the corner with a for sale sign on it.
“Ride” – Joe Satriani. This is his ode to the motorcycle. It’s the sort of faux rock that makes you reach for the search button on your radio; big guitar sound, but no emotion or soul.
“My Knight In Black Leather” – Bette Midler. Why does Bette Midler insist on singing? I’m almost embarassed to know about this one, but I can honestly say it came on a compilation CD of motorcycle songs. The lyrics read like a Danielle Steele novel. Yikes!
“Leader Of The Pack” – The Chipmunks. No, not the original by the Shangri Las. The Chipmunks, in their quest to defile all good music, did a cover of a pop hit. I would rather ride listen to a simulcast of C-Span for days on end than endure 8 seconds of the Chipmunks.
“Biker Like An Icon” – Paul McCartney. Never heard of this one. Yup, most people haven’t. This was Paul McCartney’s stab at a biker ballad. Sorry Paul; they can’t all be hits.