About a year ago Evans Brasfield posted Top 10 Motorcycle Songs. A subjective list if ever there was one, and our readership responded with suggestions of their own. The retaliation of suggested nominees for inclusion in Evans’ list of Top 10 spans from legitimate to you gotta be kidding me, but all are valuably entertaining.
It’s kinda sad that between us, we could only come up with 26 motorcycle songs (not including the motorcyclist’s official battle cry; Born to be Wild). Judging from the quality of some of the songs we already have, it’s a quickly degrading ride into obscurity and questionable moto-relevance. So maybe we should leave it well enough alone, but if you’ve another suggestion for a moto-related tune, lay it on us.
To give credit where credit is due, names haven’t been changed – not that most names are real anyway – but at least you know who to call out if you agree or disagree with a certain selection. So, here’s what our readers are listening to in order of original appearance.
Joe Satriani – Ride
Judging by his posting only an image and song title/composer, David Hartsock seems a man of few words. He prefers to let Joe Satriani and his face melting guitar playing do the speaking for him. Ride is a lyrically simple song, but Satriani gets his point across in the chorus when he says: “I just wanna ride, Get on my bike and ride.”
Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack
In Evans’ preamble to his original list he labored over the reasoning for not including the most cliche song ever associated with motorcycling, Born to be Wild. Keith T Robinson responded with the second most cliche song ever associated with motorcycling; the Shangri Las, Leader of the Pack. “Leader of the Pack is hands down no. 1,” proclaimed Robinson.
The Cheers – Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots
The same Mr. Robinson followed up his Shangri-Las number one pick with a suggestion for runner-up: The Cheers – Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots. The song made it to number six on Billboard magazine’s Best Selling Singles chart in 1955. According to Wikipedia, “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots was the first song to chart about motorcycles, earning it the reputation as the first biker song.”
Judas Priest – Hell Bent For Leather
Our own Observations From The Road columnist, Thomas Kreutzer, exposed his hard-rocking roots by suggesting the next two songs. The first, Judas Priest’s, Hell Bent For Leather, seemed to become the band’s mantra as Judas Priest became known for their leather and studs attire. Lead singer, Rob Halford, often played the song during his stage entrances aboard a Harley-Davidson.
Sammy Hagar – Bad Motor Scooter
Kreutzer’s follow-up to Judas Priest is a guy known as much for his partying as he is for his music. Sammy Hagar established his hard-rocking chops during the age of disco. He originally performed Bad Motor Scooter when he was the front man for the band Montrose. The track begins with Hagar playing a slide guitar to the tune of a revving motorcycle.
Bob Seger – Roll Me Away
The first of two Bob Seger selections, the song Roll Me Away is from HTBob, and appears on the 1983 album The Distance. Seger has been a motorcycle enthusiast his entire life. He had this to say about his 2006 Face the Promise album, where he’s pictured aboard a motorcycle without a helmet. “Unlike the album cover, I always wear a helmet. It’s just that it doesn’t make a good album cover if you have your helmet on.”
David Essex – Silver Dream Machine
Clasqm reminded us of an essential song from David Essex who wrote the title track Silver Dream Machine for the movie Silver Dream Racer, in which he played the lead character, Nick Freeman. According to Wikipedia, “Essex, a keen motorcyclist, waived his fee for the then-new 1980 electric start Triumph Bonneville he had contracted to advertise on behalf of the struggling Triumph motorcycle workers’ co-operative. As of 2005, he still owned that motorcycle.”
Brigitte Bardot – Harley-Davidson
According to jihelle, Bridgitte Bardot’s, Harley-Davidson, “is the BEST motorcycle song ever. Period. And, being French doesn’t make me partial.” We’re calling bullshit on the impartiality claim, frenchie. But one thing’s for certain, whether you like the song or not, and whether you speak French or not, any male motorcyclist can turn off the sound and still enjoy the video.
Motorhead – Killed By Death
Commenter extraordinaire, fastfreddie, dared to suggest Motorhead’s, Killed By Death, which, other than the motorcycle in the video, has nothing at all to do with motorcycles. But, it’s Motorhead, one of the most – doesn’t give a f**k bands – in the history of heavy metal, and we’re all for not giving a f**k.
Bruce Springsteen – The Angel
From the punk metal thrash of Motorhead to Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen’s poetic lyrics in The Angel, we witness a broad chasm of musical styles. Unlike Killed By Death, The Angel is actually about a motorcyclist.
“The interstate’s choked with nomadic hordes
In Volkswagen vans with full running boards
Dragging great anchors, followin’ dead-end signs into the sores
The angel rides by humpin’ his hunk metal whore”
Thanks for this gem goes to LittleHonda.
Roy Orbison – Ride Away
“Frankly I was surprised that Orbison’s Ride Away wasn’t mentioned,” posted PreachJohn. “Few ballads as beautifully capturing this quintessence of motorcycling, that for a lot of us only kicks in at some poignantly painful times in our lives.” Amen to that!
Neil Young – Unknown Legend
“What about Neil Young’s Unknown Legend,” asks Andy Hawkes. Good question, Andy, as this has gotta be one of very few songs written by a man about a female motorcyclist. First track on the album Harvest Moon, which won Canada’s Juno award for Album of the Year, Unknown Legend made it only to number 38 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks.
Bob Seger – Turn The Page
Hogtied was the second commenter to suggest a Bob Seger tune. “A Top 10 motorcycle songs and no Bob Seger … Sorry … I don’t agree …” Turn The Page is a rock anthem seemingly for motorcyclists that’s been hijacked into the larger mainstream collective. But that’s OK, it’s hard not to like the song. It’s so good, in fact, its been covered by Waylon Jennings, Metallica and Golden Earring among others.
Saxon – Motorcycle Man
Tiring of the growing list of ballads and anthems, Reid was quick to re-establish a heavy metal nature to the list by suggesting Motorcycle Man by British rockers, Saxon. From the album Strong Arm of the Law, Motorcycle Man is one of those songs that hit it big in Japan, staying on the charts there for nearly half a year. From the LP, Denim and Leather, Saxon’s Midnight Rider could be construed as motorcycle song. The group posed with the bikes on the album jacket.
Redline – King Of The Mountain
There’s no mistaking that Redline is singing about the Isle Of Man in their song King of the Mountain from the 2008 album Ignition. “BAFTA award winners, North One Television have licensed the rights to use Redline’s acclaimed song King Of The Mountain as the closing music for all broadcasts of the Isle Of Man TT Road Races,” reads the band’s website. “The track has certainly become a bit of an anthem, and not too surprising really as it is written specifically about the TT,” says Gerard Lane, Isle Of Man TT Races series producer for North One Television. Mikenc1515 is the TT fan responsible for delivering this post.
Julian Cope – East Easy Rider
Returning for the final song of the evening is fastfreddie and his request for Julian Cope’s, East Easy Rider. Not nearly as thrash as his earlier Motorhead suggestion, but easily more esoteric and equally British. At least this song is about motorcycling. However, both songs are more lyrically shallow than the wheels on the bus going round and round. In fact, East Easy Rider is basically composed of four repeated lines (but we still like the song):
“Well it’s a bruising shattering ride
But I cannot deny myself this luxury
East easy rider
Easy ride inside of you”