Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jessica, Layla, Runaway & Fortunate Son Took a Smooth Magic Carpet Ride

And now the final ten:

Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival: The last of the CCR songs. Great beginning, great lyrics, and a great tune. The song has it all.

Smooth - Santana: No one does solo guitar better than Santana, sorry Eric. The vocals by Rob Thomas adds a really good vibe to Santana's Latin guitar. When I hear this I can just close my eyes and see myself cruising down the highway.

Paint It Black- The Rolling Stones: The song has a bit of a sinister feel, but I like that. Besides the intro is one of the most recognizable in all of rock 'n roll.

Magic Carpet Ride - Steppin Wolf: I have always related the song to riding a motorcycle as the ultimate Magic Carpet Ride. Groovy 60s style guitar also makes the song fun to listen to.

Something Beautiful - Robbie Williams: All my American friends are now scratching their heads asking who the heck is Robbie Williams. He is a British pop star with a great voice and a great gift for interpreting songs. This one is one of my favorites by him and it's all about hope and finding something beautiful because you can’t manufacture a miracle.

Jessica (Single Version) - The Allman Brothers Band: One day on Twitter, @BeatlesLane and I were listing song titles that included a girl's name. As we threw suggestions at one another of songs to be included on the list this one came to mind. I've never heard the story behind it, or if there is one, but Jessica inspired a great instrumental song. It goes long, but in every note I can see the broken white lines passing underneath the wheels of my bike.

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen: Last of the born songs. All about getting out and going. I was never an early adopter of the Boss's music but this tune got me to listen to the rest of his library.

Layla - Eric Clapton: No one does solo guitar better than Eric Clapton, sorry Santana. This has to be one of the most recognizable songs in all of rock 'n roll and has one of the best guitar solos ever. This is not the unplugged version. Note: I actually like the cover version by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra better, but could not find it anywhere.

Runaway - Del Shannon: A song written in the storeroom of a carpet store in Battle Creek, Michigan that eventually became his first hit. He had three, so you can’t call Del a one-hit wonder. I first heard this song on a Boy Scout camping trip in my younger years. This was back whenyou had to rewind the tape to hear the same song over and over again. Before the weekend was out, we had worn the tape down to a nub.

The Motorcycle Song - Arlo Guthrie: You knew this would be here somewhere. The song has it all: motorcycles, Ray, pickles, and of course four-part harmony. The lyrics are light and easy, so feel free to sing along.

Well, that is my 50 best tunes for riding. I'm sure as spring comes along and I began riding down the highway listening to this list, I will come up with changes here and there, but this is the base set I will start with. Feel free to send me your suggestions but remember: if you want to put one on you have to figure out one to take off. It makes it harder than you would think.


I Wanna Do Bad Things With Sally, A Small-Town Girl, Who Was Flirtin' With Disaster

This 10 will make it over halfway; lots of good tunes yet to go.

Rockin' Down The Highway - Doobie Brothers: A happy song about being on the road. In fact the basis of this entire list is to get me rockin; down the highway.

Ghost Riders In The Sky - Spiderbait: One of two "riders"songs on the list. The movie Ghost Rider was only about average, but there was one scene in it that was very memorable. Towards the end of the movie was a scene where the hero went was prepping to go off and save the day. The old Ghost Rider mounted his skeletal horse that was engulfed in flames while the new Ghost Rider mounted his chopper that was also engulfed in flames. Then with the simple phrase "Let's ride" they took off across the desert to fight the bad guys with the Spiderbait version of this song in the background. Almost spiritual.

Freedom 90 - George Michaels: He has one of the better voices in rock 'n roll music, but some of his best stuff was kind of overlooked due to his personal life. Even though the song is really about the music industry, it is a song about doing things the way you want to do them -- -- freedom.

Flirtin' With Disaster - Molly Hatchet: Great Dixie Rock feel with a driving back rhythm. Heavy on the guitar and drums and lots of road rhythm. Just a great tune for hitting the road.

Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett: It is a song about a girl and a car without a motorcycle in sight; but it is a GREAT song about a girl and a car. Ride Sally ride.

Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast: No comments about the TV show, this is just about the song. This cover actually has more passion than the Journey version. The song itself about the city boy and the small-town girl catching the midnight train. Driving riffs and good harmony gets your blood pumping. Just a good traveling song,

Riders On the Storm - The Doors: The second "riders" song. Great introduction by the electronic organ sets the stage for a song that gives the listener visions of riders coming through a thunderstorm. I always saw this as being a group of motorcyclists coming over a hilltop at sunset as the storm rolls in.

Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band: I have always felt that this was a great matchup with Riders On the Storm even though they are from very different eras of music. They both have the same ethereal feel to them.

Bad Things (Club Mix) - Jace Everett: I am a big fan of ballads and this has some of the best primal lyrics of any love song I've heard in a while. "When you came in, the air went out". Great vocals and great rhythm. Spooky.

The Midnight Special - Creedence Clearwater Revival: A list like this could not exist without at least one song from CCR, this is the first of two. I like the bayou feel of the lyrics, and the opening bars of the song brings to mind rolling down some backcountry highway in the deep South.

Well, that's the first 30, 20 more to go.


Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm Willin' to Keep on Tryin', Even Though I Have a Touch of Gray

Here are the next 10 that will take us up to 40:

Rebel Yell - Billy Idol: It was a rough decision between this song and White Wedding. In the end, who can argue when she's yelling "More! More! More! " -- Who would want to?

Spirit in the Sky - Doctor & The Medics: Another one of those songs that really doesn't relate to riding, or traveling directly; but it has always meant road trip to me. I like this version better than the original by Norman Greenebaum, no offense.

Touch of Gray - Grateful Dead: I will freely admit that until the Grateful Dead did this song, I ignored most of their music. But after I heard this song I actually went back and got American Beauty and found there was a lot to like in their tunes. Touch of grey? Isn't that what this whole adventure is all about?

Ohio (Come Back to Texas) - Bowling for Soup: Boy meets girl, girl meets banker, and girl runs off to Ohio, boy pines for girl. Okay, no bikes there -- -- but I like the tune and it has a driving rhythm to it. And there is the constant reminder that the Mexican food sucks north of Texas anyway.

Willin' - Little Feat: There are so many different meanings that can be found in this song. But to me it is about a guy trying to make a little further down the road because he's willin' -- after all he's been from Tucson to Tocumcari. (I actually drove the 1100 miles from Los Angeles to Tocumcari once in a little over 11 hours, but that's another story)

Keep On Trying - Poco: This is one of the prettiest songs that Poco ever did, it is also one of those songs that is about going on and not giving up. Perfect for a road trip.

Slow Ride - Foghat: Driving guitar rhythms make this a good choice for the list. Even though I actually picture myself doing around 60 miles an hour while listening to it and not doing a slow ride.

Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd: Anyone of my age group knows why this song is here. I refuse to explain or justify it.

A Little Less Conversation [JXL Radio Edit Remix] - Elvis Presley: JXL took it a little known Elvis song and turned it into something fun. With upgraded base and electronic refs is a great song to get motivated and moving.

All Right Now - Free: An older song, that still makes me want to move and get moving. The lyrics are a little light, but man the music makes up for it.

Only 10 more to his left and then my list will be complete.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

He Had One More Silver Dollar and Smelled The Colitas as Maurice Pulled Into Nazareth

Well, the first tunes didn't cause too much hate or discontent. Most of the e-mail I got was why specific songs were chosen rather than something being left. So here are the next 10 which will take us to 20 total.

Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi: I will be honest I've never been a Bon Jovi fan, except for this song. There is a great line in there about "on a steel horse I ride". When you add that to the driving rhythms and great guitar work, it is a perfect song to include in this list.

Bad Company - Bad Company: This another of those tunes that when listened to I can just see myself on a bike heading down the highway, feet up in the highway pegs, and wind hitting my body as I roll the throttle.

Highway In the Wind - Arlo Guthrie: The title says motorcycle. The lyric about asking someone to escape with you into the unknown; it id another of those songs that just brings a vision of riding when you listen to it.

The Weight - The Band: I have heard that this song is actually featured in the movie Easy Rider, but I don't remember hearing it. That is okay, because of that rumor I actually took a listen and realized I knew the song but not the song's title. To me song brings a vision of cruising down a lonely blue highway somewhere out in middle of nowhere.

The Joker - Steve Miller Band: Just call me Maurice, this song brings back so many memories from high school and cruising the strip and my 62 Ford Fairlane. Why shouldn't it be there when I'm cruising on two wheels too?

Ramblin' Man - The Allman Brothers Band: I once heard a very dark joke about the Allman Brothers breaking up the group by attrition via motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles did prove devastating for the band but not before they produce some really outrageous tunes. This is another one of those wandering songs that matches up so well for a trip to nowhere in particular on a long weekend.

Born to Be Wild - Steppenwolf: One of the three songs on this list about what you were born to be or do. I defy anyone to listen to the beginning of this song and not see a motorcycle speeding down the highway. It gets my motor runin'.

Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen: The second of the born songs. Another one of those fist pumping hard driving tunes that just make you want to get up and go. The gravelly Boss's voice contributes to that feel of needing to hear something like this when riding.

Hotel California - The Eagles: the opening notes alone have always given me a vision of heading down a lonely stretch of highway just before sunset and seeing the lights up ahead and wondering what mysteries would be unveiled if I pulled them. Of course, the lyrics tell of a place somewhere between an episode of The Twilight Zone and slasher movie - so concentrate on the guitar solo instead..

Midnight Rider - Gregg Allman: This is the solo version of the song and not the one by the Allman Brothers Band. I like this one better because it is a little longer and has better musical interludes than the other. The lyrics tell a great tale and the music has really good road rhythm. No way this one was not going to be on my list.

More to come...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nobody Should Lose Their Virginity Listening to Carmina Burana

I have talked about the importance of music in my life. Like most folks I can relate specific significant events in my life to certain music. As a result of that, listening to the radio is always a treat because you can never be sure when a song with a really happy memory attached will be played. Of course, sometimes it is a song attached to a sad memory too.

When I was picking out my last car, I actually made a disc of songs and put them on a CD specifically geared toward inspiring the perfect test drive. It was a blend of blood racing and heart pumping rock that was to inspire me to press the car to the limits that I truly expected out of it.

So, as I prepare to start riding a bike; I started thinking about the types of music and specific songs that would heighten the enjoyment. Of course I first thought of songs that were about motorcycles, but there are not that many of them and not all of them are about the joys of road freedom. When I went through all of my music I found a lot of songs that made me feel like I do when I am riding and that would augment the feeling of joy that it brings me.

In the end, I picked 50 songs that were perfect for escaping into while hitting the road. To listen to all of them takes 3 hours and 45 minutes -- -- which is good enough for about a 120 mile round trip. I will eventually post the titles of all 50 songs here on the blog but I thought I would bring them out 10 at a time with a few words explaining why I picked each one. I think you'll be surprised by many of the choices and the variety of genres that the music comes from.

As always I solicit your feedback but please wait until all 50 songs are listed before saying that I left a song you felt was perfect off of the list. As with any favorites list, this is a living being and from time to time I may choose to add to it but I think I will limited to 50 total so if I had one I will also have to take off one which will lead to more thoughtful choices. Also, the list is posted in no particular order to include alphabetical. Without further ado here are the first 10

Running on Empty by Jackson Browne - I got turned onto this album while a freshman in college, and wore it out listening to it over and over again. This song in particular was the best for capturing the feel of cruising down the road. The lyrics are great.

Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealer's Wheel - Some songs I picked were based on what I can only describe as having "road rhythm". From the handclaps in the opening bars the song captures that spirit and makes you just want to go.

Roll Me Away by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - It just doesn't get any better. A perfect road song and it's even got a motorcycle. The lyrics talk about that longing about having to get away from your own voice to find out who you are -- -- wow.

Higher Ground by Red Hot Chili Peppers - Another of those songs with great road rhythm. This remake of Stevie Wonder's song is great because of the heavy bass line in it that just makes you want to move.

Call Me the Breeze by Lynyrd Skynyrd - One of my favorite bands with a happy song about going down the road. I know some folks consider this bubble gum – but listen it is deeper than that.

Click Click Boom by Saliva - I actually got turned on to this song at work. Somebody had used it as a soundtrack for a slideshow. Driving rhythm and out of control vocals. Click click boom -- -- indeed.

This Life by Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers - Even though this is the theme from Sons of Anarchy it doesn't relate directly to motorcycles but it does have a great beat and driving force behind it. The lyrics also give you things to ponder.

La Grange by ZZ Top - As far as I know this is the only top 40 song Leon Redbone was ever part of. I hear this song and I can just picture myself straddling my bike rolling throttle forward and hitting it.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals - I think it is because I see riding as such an escape that this song made my list. Even though my life is very good there times when I just got to get out of this place -- for a little while.

Toccata - Carpimus Noctem by Trans-Siberian Orchestra -This entry is one of those that will probably surprise. Listen to the first few notes and you will know why. As the song goes from the pipe organ to heavy metal guitar I can see the road rushing by on either side of me and feel the wind.  By the way, TSO did do a mean version of Carmina Burana on their Night Castle album,  but it still ain't the right soundtrack for losing your virginity.

Well, that is the first 10, only 40 more to go.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

PJ O'Rourke Taught Me How to Drive Fast While Getting My Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill My Drink

When I was in Junior high school, I was given a copy of National Lampoon. If you are not familiar with the publication, it is a lot like Saturday Night Live in printed format. There is a lot of satire, sexual innuendo, and general silliness all of which is perfect for the pre-adolescent or adolescent teenage male. Among my favorite writers was a guy by the name of PJ O'Rourke.

I like PJ's writing style but what hooked me were the titles of his stories. Many times they actually had something to do with what the story was about, but on some occasions, I could never figure out the connection between the title and the actual story. What the titles did do was to pique my interest enough to read what he had written. And I did.

PJ is one of few authors who I looked for whenever I got a new copy of the magazine; I wanted to see what words of wisdom he was going to pass on that month. Many of these articles formed the basis of opinions that I would later solidify with my own beliefs. I recall that one of the first articles of his that I ever read by him was How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink. That article was how PJ earned my gratitude -- because later in life I did drive fast and even though I never did drugs, I did get my wing-wang squeezed and managed not spill my drink. It might not be the kind of thing that get you nominated for a Nobel Prize, but it is the sort of stuff that keeps life interesting.

As I got older, I stopped reading National Lampoon and moved on to other periodicals and books. I would catch the occasional article by PJ O'Rourke that was published in Esquire, Rolling Stone or other magazines. As he got older and a little less wild and more conservative, so did I. He recently released Driving Like Crazy: Thirty Years of Vehicular Hell-bending, Celebrating America the Way It's Supposed To Be which includes the story I mentioned above as well as many other reprints and some new words as well, including How to Drive Fast When the Drugs Are Mostly Lipitor, the Wing-Wang Needs More Squeezing Than It Used to Before It Gets the Idea, and Spilling Your Drink Is No Problem If You Keep the Sippy Cups from When Your Kids Were Toddlers and Leave the Baby Seat in the Back Seat so that When You Get Pulled Over You Look Like a Perfectly Innocent Grandparent. Very enjoyable. There are even a couple of tales about motorcycles.

So why do I bring a PJ O'Rourke at this point in my blog? Well, it's because I get e-mails. Most of the e-mails either mention or are about the titles of my entries and what I am trying to do by making them less than a boring. I am simply showing off a lesson that I learned many years ago from an author I will never meet named PJ O'Rourke. If it hadn't been for his titles, I might never have discovered his humor. For that lesson, I say thanks PJ. (BTW I don't think I will ever use the words wing-wang ever again in this blog.)