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Bicycle Music

NOTE: I'm no longer cataloguing any odd song that happens to mention or even be about bicycles.  From here on out I'll only be adding those that really stand out.  So please send me songs only if they're worthy of inclusion.  Uninspiring folk songs that have nothing special about them won't make it, nor will a song that just mentions bicycles in passing.  Also, I need a web link to lyrics, a video, or an MP3 sample of whatever you submit.  With over 10,000 messages in my In Box, I don't have time to play detective about every idea someone wants to throw my way any more. Thanks for understanding.

B A N D S   &   A L B U M S

Tons of bike songs on YouTube

YouTube has tons of videos of bike songs.  It would take me forever to add them all here.  So maybe it's time for me to retire this page? (see the songs on YouTube)

Bicycle Music Festival

This San Francisco-based festival sounds impressive: "...the world's only 100% bicycle-based festival, with 30 volunteers, 15 bands, 7 festival stops, no prices, no permits, Critical Mass-style bicycle party caravans between the festival stops, a 600 Watt pedal-powered P/A system, and zero use of cars and trucks, San Francisco's Bicycle Music Festival may be the greenest music festival ever conceived." (check out the festival)

bicycle   An east coast band which tours by bike (except their equipment travels by automobile). Here's CNN's article on the band from May 25, 2000.

Bike Rock   Debut solo album by Attila Horvath, featuring songs like "Road Rage" and "Ride On". His website contains lyrics and samples. (added 12-05)

Hate Traffic   An Austin, TX hard rock band: "A pedestrian libation front sent here to destroy you and your SUV." Check their listing in the Austin Chronicle's Musicians Register, including a funny MP3 of their angry, self-titled song. (added 7-01)

Hit By a Car   An Austin, TX garage punk band. Check their listing in the Austin Chronicle's Musicians Register. (added 7-01)

Kids on Bikes   One of the principals of this Florida-based electronica group told me that they do nothing but bicycle songs. According to his MySpace page they've recorded 20 songs with a total of 71 planned, though as of this writing there are no samples online. The MySpace page does have a bike song ("Bike Violence") from another of his projects ("Verde"). The song is light electric guitars + vocals (no drums or bass). (added 2008.09)

Schwinntonation   A Chicago group using bicycles themselves as the instruments, using clever techniques to eek percussive sounds from chains, rims, spokes, and other bike parts. The first few tracks on their debut release are interesting only because of the novelty of the production, but if you stick it out you'll discover some of the later tracks stand on their own, regardless of how they were created. (e.g. San Francisco Blues) You can download MP3's of their entire first album for free on their website. (added June 2009)

Shake Your Peace   An American band which tours by bicycle, with NO support van! See their website. (added 11-06)

Song Cycles   A Toronto, Canadian choir which sings about bicycles and traffic. See their website. (added 9-01)

This Bike is a Pipebomb   A punk-folk band from Pensacola, FL. (Google search) (added 7-01)

B I C Y C L E    S O N G S

(This list doesn't include songs by the bands listed above).


"The Acoustic Motorbike" by LUKA BLOOM (from The Acoustic Motorbike, 1992)
Rolling Stone says: " Luka Bloom proves more successful at evoking moods than making incisive observations on his second album, The Acoustic Motorbike. ... One of Bloom's most affecting performances on Acoustic Motorbike, however, is an impassioned reading of L.L. Cool J's 'I Need Love'. The prospect of a folky Irish rocker covering a rap ballad may seem strange, but experimenting with different forms is precisely what keeps established traditions vital. That's not to imply, of course, that the folk-rock minstrel is in danger of extinction. The times may be a-changin', but as long as people play guitars, write songs and sing - and move others by doing so - this custom will evolve and endure." (MP3 at Amazon.com)

The day began with a rainbow in the sand
As I cycled into Kerry
Cattle grazing on a steep hillside
Looked well fed well balanced
Close to the edge

Chorus:
Pedal on, pedal on, pedal on for miles
Pedal on
Pedal on, pedal on, pedal on for miles
Pedal on

I take a break, I close my eyes
And I'm as happy as the Dolphin
In a quiet spot talking to myself
Talking about the rain
Talking about the rain
All this rain

(Chorus)

You see whenever I'm alone
I tend to brood
But when I'm out on my bike
It's a different mood
I leave my brain at home
Get up on the saddle
No hanging around
I don't diddle-daddle

I work my legs
I pump my thighs
Take in the scenery passing me by
The Kerry Mountains or the Wicklow Hills
The antidote to my emotional ills
A motion built upon human toil
Nuclear free needs no oil
But it makes me hot, makes me hard
I never thought I could have come this far
Through miles of mountains, valleys, streams
This is the right stuff filling my dreams
So come on, get up on your bike
Ah go on, get up on your bike

(Chorus)

Finally
With my face to that bitter wind
I bombed it into Killarney
Skin raw like a sushi dinner
And an appetite
That would eat the hind leg of the lamb of God
Even though you know I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing
Then settle down for a quiet night
Think about what I've seen and done
And wonder

There's no reason for this
Now is the time to speak of the problem troubling my mind
Sick of the traffic choking our towns
Freaking me out, bringing me down
Knock down houses, build more lanes
Once was a problem, now it's insane
My solution it's one that I like
It's Muddy
The Acoustic Motorbike
So come on, get up on your bike

(Chorus)

Ah go on, Ah go on
Get up on your bike
Get up on your bike



GREATEST HITS
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JAZZ
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"Bicycle Race" by QUEEN (from Jazz, 1978)
This is the quintessential bicycle song, opening with the several-part harmony chanting, "BI-cycle, BI-cycle, BI-cycle!", and continuing with, "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like." The album included a controversial fold-out poster of 55 nude women on bicycles preparing for a race. The race was held in England's Wimbledon stadium, and was organized for the sole purpose of providing the photograph for the album.
Aside from the chorus, the verses are puzzling, seeming to have nothing to do with bicycles. (" 'Jaws' was never my scene and I don't like 'Star Wars'," "You say Rolls, I say Royce," "I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein, or Superman.") Some have suggested that "bicycle" is really a euphemism for "bisexual," since Queen's leader (Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in the early 90s) was gay and perhaps bisexual, but there is little in the lyrics to suggest that alternate meaning.
The CD version of Jazz contains a bonus: Track #15 is a dance remix of "Bicycle Race" done by Junior Vasquez in 1991. I used the original "Bicycle Race" as the intro music on my "Bicycle Lane" program on KOOP Radio, and the dance remix of "Bicycle Race" as the closing music.


"Bicycle" by LIVINGSTON TAYLOR (from Bicycle, 1996)
A lounge jazz piece from the album of the same name by singer/songwriter Livingston Taylor and Maggie Taylor. Audio clips are available at Amazon. Excerpted lyrics: Pedal that bike, pedal that bike / That little old lady in the Dodge Diplomat / I don't think she sees me / I hope she don't teach me how to fly. / I wear Lycra, it fits really closely to my skin / White to purple is the place where it begins / I pad my butt and I'm careful / To stay out of ruts / Wrap around sunglasses, I'm an alien / Feel my heart go pit-a-pat / Hello big hill good-bye fat / Life goes by just like that / A forty something spree is / My bicycle and me.

"Bicycle, Bicycle, You are My Bicycle" by BE YOUR OWN PET (from self-titled debut, 2006) added 4/09
A raucous threat by a group that's either alt-rock or a garage band, depending on your perspective. The lyrics, and the video, are downright threatening: "We will come to your town / Burn your house down / Turn the sky brown / All because, all because, all because / We're on two wheels baby / We're on two wheels baby. / ... / No gears, no brakes, we'll break your face. / Have fun, and be safe with it. / Just kidding, fuck shit up / We ride bikes, cars are for idiots." I note with amusement that this song was suggested to me by a research assistant at the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence of a major university.


"The Bicycle Song" by DAVID ROVICS (from Make it So, undated, circa 1995?)
Contemporary folksinger David Rovics offers this simple, original folksong. From the liner notes: "When Bill Taylor told me he was forming a choir specifically for singing songs that promote bike riding, I was inspired to make this contribution to the cause."

"The Bicycle Song" by KATE BLOOM (1981-1984)
Annoying simple folk song with no production values and unrelated guitar noodling in the background. (epitonic)


"Bicycle Song" by ORBIT (from Libido Speedway, circa 1996)
An edgy song by a modern rock band. Only the first verse mentions bikes: "Kelsey won't you come out to play? I got my bicycle today. My father bought it for me. He said it cost him money. He's got a man in China, who said he gets them cheaply. It's got a magic handle, it's got a chromed-up fender, it's got a sprocket carbon(?), it's got some super powers. / What a pretty bicycle she said, I want one just like that."


 "The Bicycle Song" by RIC MENCK / THE SPRINGFIELDS (from The Ballad of Ric Menck 1996)
Unfortunately I couldn't find an MP3 or even the lyrics to this song. Here's a track listing of the album as well as more information about the artist.

"BicycleThieves" by SALOON (2002)
A pretty song from a Reading, England art-pop band. Unfortunately I can't really make out any of the lyrics. You can listen to the track on the website of their label, Darla.com. Here's also a review of the album it's from (What We Call Progress), and an interview with the band.


"Bike" by PINK FLOYD (from the re-release of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967)
The "Bike" song didn't appear on Pink Floyd's album when it was released in 1967, but it's included on the 1987 re-release. It was penned and sung by Syd Barrett. (This was before David Gilmour joined the band.) I'd say the song is fairly uninspiring, but hey, it's about a bike, right? "I've got a bike. / You can ride it if you like. / It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good. / I'd give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it." Here's an MP3 clip, courtesy of Cheap-CDs.com. You can order the CD here.


"Bike" by MAL WEBB (2000)
A bouncy congo-style number from a contemporary Australian musician, featuring thick harmonies and excellent production values. Full MP3 download on his site. Lyrics:
Push on a pedal, push on a pedal / Get your (gasp) heart started
Push on a pedal / Push it down and up again
Get on your bike, sit on the seat / Push your feet on the pedals
And ride it all around / Ride it all around
Oh, get that car out of my way / I want to ride my bike today
It keeps me fit and gets me there / And won't go stinking up the air
Leave behind the daily grind / And let your mind unwind
If it's life you tend to like / You'd better get yourself a bike
Oh, oh, get yourself a bike


"Bike Ride to the Moon" by DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR (from Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, 1987)
An up-tempo new wave tune by the alter ego of XTC. Part of the melody is straight out of "Bike" by Pink Floyd (see above), which can't be coincidence. Excerpt: Push me off to tart the fun, on a bike ride to the moon. Here are the lyrics, and a full recording on YouTube. (added Aug. 2009)


"The Bike Sorg" by THE GRAVE ARCHITECTS (2010)
Describes the love of learning to ride the first bike in childhood, and the dangers of urban cycling for adults.  Starts out as straight-ahead pop, and then shifts into some more aggressive hip-hop.  The video is very well-done, too.  By a popular Nottingham band.  A great example of bike love put to music and video. (see/hear it on YouTube) (added July 2010)


"The Critical Mass Song" by STEPHEN LA MARCA
Here's a page that lists the lyrics to the song. I don't know if there's music, or if it's ever been recorded.


"Cycling is Fun" by POOPIEHEAD (from Peek-A-Boo compilation, 1995)
A light-hearted, sing-songy tune celebrating the joys of cycling. The second verse is in Japanese, for no apparent reason. (See "Schwinn 24" above, for details on the Peek-A-Boo compilation.)
Bill Canfield points out that this is probably a cover of the Shonen Knife song from the album "Let's Knife."


"Funner than Cars" by RANDY NEUFELD & FRIENDS (2003)
An acapella original with several singers about the superiority of bikes over cars. Unfortunately fairly uninspiring. You can listen to an MP3 from the Chicago Bicycle Federation's website.


"Happy Cycling" by BOARDS OF CANADA (1998)
This is an electronica song that has nothing to do with cycling (and barely any lyrics of any kind at all). I'm listing it anyway only so that people don't keep suggesting it.


"I Like Bike" by LEX ZALETA (2005)
This is simply awful. It's a self-published MP3 with uninspired Dylanesque vocals on top of a cheap/annoying MIDI instrumentation. The chorus: Think of it as recycling / You're the environmental key. / Don't fret the next gas price hike. / Show 'em your sign / I like bike! / I like bike!


And I ride my bike, And I drive my car
I drive it all around just to take me back to you

And I comb my hair, And I wear dress
I wear it all around just to take me back to you

CHORUS:

I ride my bike, take me back to you
I drive my car, take me back to you
I ride my bike, I drive my car, take me to you
I ride my bike, I drive my car, take me to you

REPEAT VERSES 1 & 2

CHORUS

 

This is story about dog, dog
When I ride my bike
And my hair is blowing straight back
I think of you wearing that brown mohair sweater
Soft mounds of breasts underneath
Or better yet one of those squiggly aluminum lawn chairs
I'm putting sun tan lotion on your long legs
wearing broad rim straw hat
Pair of Mickey mouse sunglasses
Looking just like lolita, Looking just like lolita
White sheets hanging on the line
White sheets blowing in the wind
A satellite dish pointed straight up at the heavens
satellite dish pointing straight up at the heavens,

Isis! [repeat 14x]
Oh yeah! (Isis) arrrrrrrrrr

I ride my bike, I drive my car, to be with you.
[repeat 3x]

"I Ride My Bike" by CRACKER (1993)
A rather mixed bag. This is secret track #88 on Kerosene Hat.

 


"Jitensha" by OreSkaBand (2010)

An all-girl group from Japan called Ore Ska Band offers this striking number (in Japanese), whose chorus is nearly shouting "Jitensha!  Jitensha!  Jitensha!"  (Bicycle!  Bicycle!  Bicycle!)  Though not a children's song, it quickly became the closing theme of a popular kid's animation program on Japanese TV.  The video features bicycle-riding prominently. (added June 2010)



"The Kickstand Song" by Darren Hanlon (2002)

An Australian indie soft-rocker offers this ditty about a person who invents the kickstand. Sample lyrics: "Up until now my ideas have been latent / The cycling world will never be the same / But come first light I'll be taking out a patent / And from that day / If a bike be found lying on the ground again / I'm not to blame." Complete lyrics | Listen | Amazon album review page


"Lance is King" by (UNKNOWN)
In Jan. 2005 someone sent me this MP3 parody about Lance Armstrong to the tune of ABBA's "Dancing Queen". I don't know anything more about it. (Please don't try to steal my bandwidth by hot-linking directly to this file. It won't work, anyway.)


"Motorcrash" by THE SUGARCUBES (1988)
A typically enigmatic offering from Bjork's old band. It's apparently about a girl who gets a bicycle and then rescues/kidnaps motorists from auto crashes, nursing them back to health. See the lyrics



Order a copy
"My White Bicycle" by TOMORROW (1968)
"In the early days of British psychedelia, three bands were consistently cited as first-generation figureheads of the London-based underground sound: Pink Floyd, the Soft Machine, and Tomorrow. Pink Floyd became superstars and the Soft Machine influential cult legends, but Tomorrow is mostly remembered (if at all) for featuring Steve Howe as their lead guitarist in his pre-Yes days. Actually, Tomorrow was nearly the equal of the two more celebrated outfits. Along with the early Floyd and Soft Machine, they shared a propensity for flower-power whimsy. Though they were less recklessly innovative and imaginative, their songwriting was accomplished, with adroit harmonies, psychedelic guitar work, and adventurous structures and tempo changes. They never succumbed to mindless indulgence or jamming; indeed, their tracks were rather short and tightly woven in comparison with most psychedelic bands. A couple singles (especially "My White Bicycle") were underground favorites, but the group only managed to record one album before breaking up in 1968. Lead singer Keith West, even before the breakup, had a number two British hit with "Excerpt From a Teenage Opera," which helped inspire Pete Townshend's Tommy. Drummer Twink joined the Pretty Things and, later, the Pink Fairies." ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
John C. Alder of Tomorrow writes:
"My White Bicycle" was written out of what was actually going on in Amsterdam. One of the owners of Granny Takes a Trip, Nigel Weymouth, had gone there and come back with a Provos badge which he gave to me. They were kind of like a student anarchist group that believed everything should be free. In fact, they had white bicycles in Amsterdam and they used to leave them around the town. And if you were going somewhere and you needed to use a bike, you'd just take the bike and you'd go somewhere and just leave it. Whoever needed the bikes would take them and leave them when they were done.
Nigel told me about this and I told Keith West (lead singer) this and a bit later we went to Amsterdam and he wrote a song about it. So "My White Bicycle" comes out of that Provo thing.
The main guitar theme of "My White Bicycle" comes from what we were listening to at the time. We were listening to Ravi Shankar and Gabor Zarbo at the time. So our influences were Indian mainly. Steve may have picked up on that with the riff or he may have just pulled it out of the air, I don't know. It's like a droning sitar sound.
We recorded the album at Abbey Road Studios starting in the Spring of 1967. The Beatles were working on ST. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. Our album was released in early 1968.
The song has been covered by Nazareth, and appears on a solo album by Steve Howe (a member of Tomorrow). The San Francisco Art Lab sells a promotional poster for this song for $50.

 


"Pedal Revolution" by JENNY HOYTON (2006)

A minamalist rock song (no drums or bass, just electric guitar, vocals, and a little percussion) from an all-women San Francisco-based trio. The lyrics are so sparse I can print them all here: "i don't watch the price of gases / and every car i pass says "look at that bicycle - it doesn't use much oil" / my right cuff is all rolled up / breeze by the traffic hold-up / look at this bicycle - it doesn't use much oil / i freestyle when i'm riding / i'm pedaling in rhythm / look at this bicycle - it doesn't use much oil / and this sucks for the Bushes Jr. and Sr. / look at this bicycle - it doesn't need your oil" [added February 2008]


"The Pushbike Song" by THE MIXTURES (1971)

This song is by The Mixtures, though it's often mistakenly attributed to Mungo Jerry. That's understandable. The Mixtures first hit it big by covering Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime", and their follow-up, "The Pushbike Song", is reputed to be very Mungo Jerry-esque. Oddly enough, The Mixtures also have a song called "Henry Ford" on the same album as "The Pushbike Song". "The Pushbike Song" made the Top 10 in the U.K. and Australia in 1971, and the lyrics are charming: "Riding along my pushbike honey / When I noticed you / Riding down town in a hurry honey / Down South Avenue / You looked so pretty / As you were riding along..." 


"Riding on My Bike" by MADNESS (1982)

From UBL: "Along with the Specials, Madness were one of the leading bands of the ska revival of the late '70s and early '80s. As their career progressed, Madness branched away from their trademark "nutty sound" and incorporated large elements of Motown, soul, and British pop. Although the band managed one crossover American hit in 1983, the band remained a British phenomenon..." (more) An excerpt of the lyrics: "I've had my fill of petrol fumes / Attached myself to big balloons / And pumped them full of precious air / The traffic jam looks with despair."


"Side by Side"? by KERMIT & MISS PIGGY (from The Great Muppet Caper movie, 1981)

The Muppet Movie in 1979 delighted audiences with a short scene of Kermit riding a bicycle -- being no easy feat to film a puppet riding a bike, especially in the era before computer-generated graphics! The sequel, 1981's The Great Muppet Caper, tops that with a long scene of Kermit and Miss Piggy riding bikes side by side through a park, singing to each other, "Pretty day, sunny sky, lovely pictures dance in your eyes. It all seems so right. It all feels so rare. Summer song, sudden breeze, watch the wind play tags in the trees. The world is so right, so perfectly fair. Why couldn't we fly? I know we'd get by. Sunny sky, pretty day, just a push and we're on the way. Yes, couldn't we ride, side by side?"


"Schwinn 24" by TEEN TITANS (from Peek-A-Boo compilation, 1995)
In 1995, now defunct Austin record label Peek-A-Boo Records put out an album (vinyl at least, maybe also CD, long out of print regardless) of local punk and semi-punk bands doing songs about bicycles. I was able to borrow a copy of the record, but the offerings were disappointing -- the lyrics were unintelligible on most tracks. One track was done in Spanish, and the band recording that number (Happy Family) told the record producer that the song was about bicycles, but it wasn't. There are a few decent tracks, though, Schwinn 24 being one of them. There's definitely some punk distortion (even on the verse vocals), but that's broken by a charming chanting harmony leading to the chorus "peddle-peddle-peddle-peddle / peddle-peddle-peddle peddle...", and then puncuated by the screaming right before the chorus, "Peddle UP, peddle DOWN, peddle ALL around town, on my Schwin 24."


"South Carolina" by JOHN LINNELL (of "They Might Be Giants" fame; from the album State Songs, 1999)
John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants) delivers 16 songs, each based on a different U.S. state. South Carolina is about a bike crash, but there's a creepy overtone about crashing intentionally to try to collect insurance money. Here's an excerpt:
The other day my neighbor has a dented bike
Second day he called me from intensive care
Says he needs a picture of the dented bike
For the evidence of what a wreck he had

Accident, Accident

Lift that fork, eat that snail
Garcon summoned, have a new cocktail
Lift that fork, eat that snail
Garcon summoned, have a new cocktail

Crash my bicycle, Crash my bicycle
In a big South Carolina wreck
I crash my bicyle, Crash my bicycle, Crash my bicycle
In a big South Carolina wreck
I crash my bicyle

And I won some damages and they were punitive
By which I mean the punishment was damaging
It crushed my head, It crushed my head
Garcon, where's my drink?

See the full lyrics (misattributed to They Might Be Giants), or listen to a sample.


"Tour de France" by KRAFTWERK (1983)
An offering from the German synth/dance band. The lyrics are brief and uninspiring. (English translation: "...Final sprint at the finish. Flat tire on the paving stones. The bicycle is repaired quickly. The peloton is regrouped. Comrades and friendship." See the complete lyrics in French & English or German, or listen to an MP3, download a MIDI version, or read more than you ever cared to know about this song.


"Training Wheel Rag" by ASYLUM STREET SPANKERS (from Mommy Says No!, 2007)
A bouncy old-school jazz number from a very popular Austin-based band, about someone complaining that his bike still has its training wheels. The "Rag" in the title refers to the piece being a ragtime song, not to cloth rag to wipe the wheel with. Listen to MP3 at Last.fm. (added 8/09)


"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" by THE BEATLES (from The Beatles ["white album"], 1968)
Sure, it wasn't supposed to be about bicycles, but you can certainly see that it works that way. Just like the Beatles' "I'll Get You" wasn't supposed to be about sex. ("It's not like me, to pretend, but I'll get you, I'll get you in the end. Yes I will, I'll get you in the end. Oh yeah, oh yeah.")


Rewritten lyrics on BIKE JOURNAL
There's a thread on the Bike Journal forums where readers have submitted lyrics to popular songs, rewritten to be about bicycles. Note: You have to go through the (cumbersome) free registration process in order to view this thread.

 

A N T I - C A R    M U S I C

"Car Pigs" by JUDAS IGLESIAS (rewritten lyrics for Black Sabbath's "War Pigs")

After seeing this web page, a reader sent in his version of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", rewritten to be about the end of the car culture.
Drivers gathered in their masses / Sitting on their bloated asses
Lazy minds that cause obstruction
/ Source of more and more destruction
In the streets the engines burning
/ As the car machine keeps turning
Death and hatred in their eyes
/ Poisoning the rain and skies
(Oh Lord yeah!)
 
Politicians hide themselves away / Build another overpass
Why should they go out to drive?
/ Leave it to the middle class
Time will tell on their power minds
/ Making roads just for fun
Cramming people into metal cans
/ Wait til the judgement day comes (Yeah!)
Now in darkness cars stop turning / Ashes where the engines burning
No more car pigs have the power
/ Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgement, no more oil
/ On their feet the car pigs toil
Begging mercy for their sins
/ Satan laughing spreads his wings

"CARS" by GARY NUMAN (from The Pleasure Principle, 1979)

The idea of this piece seems to be that the car is a tool of alienation. But did the songwriter think that was a bad thing when he penned the lyrics? Numan reportedly had an "unabashed admiration of wealth" and the band Yes teased him with their 1980 song "White Car", about Numan driving around London in the vehicle a record label gave him. Numan has also noted that as someone with Asperger's Syndrome (a mild form of autism) he tends not to be very socially and prefers machines to people, and in that light, it's possible that he meant his song of isolation to be practical for his preferences, rather than a song of sadness. [added Feb. 2008]

THE DEPAVERS (circa 2000)

Their website says: "As heard on National Public Radio and as seen on CNN International, from the Kyoto Climate Change Conference of the U.N. Songs include Have a Global Warming Day, The Legend of Dana Lyons, This 408, Love Remains, and 14 other tunes including: Green is the Shelter, Answer Man, Mother Earth First, Tearin' Up the Roads, It's The Beatles, and Schoolmaster. Also Freedom Says dedicated to Gypsy, forest defender. Featuring Jan and Spring on vocals with Jan on guitar, Tofu and Lee on drums, Rick, Chuck & Jeannie on basses.

"Fast Cars" by THE BUZZCOCKS (from Another Music in a Different Kitchen, 1978)

Who better to rebel against the mainstream love of cars than an early punk band -- since punks railed against mainstream everything. 
They're nice and precise, each one begins and ends
They may win you admirers, but they'll never earn you friends
Fast cars, fast cars
Fast cars, I hate fast cars
 
They're so depressing going 'round and 'round
Ooh, they make me dizzy, oh fast cars they run me down
Fast cars, fast cars,
Fast cars, I hate fast cars
 
Sooner or later, you're gonna listen to Ralph Nader
I don't wanna cause a fuss, but fast cars are so dangerous
Fast cars, fast cars
Fast cars, I hate fast cars, fast cars
Fat cars, fast cars
I hate fast cars
 

"Henry Ford was a Fascist" by DAVID ROVICS (from We Just Want the World, 1998)

Another offering from contemporary folksinger David Rovics, also the author of "The Bicycle Song" (see above). From the liner notes: "Henry Ford was an openly anti-semitic, greed-driven capitalist who used Jewish slave labor in Germany to help the Nazis kill American soldiers and many, many other people. History is rarely as clearcut as it appears in the capitalist American ("mainstream") press, and WWII was no exception." 

"Idiot Driver" by STRETFORD (from Peek-A-Boo compilation, 1995)

A short song by an Austin-area alterna-rock band. The lyrics are largely unintelligible, except for the part about driving in the bike lane, and the chorus of "Idiot Driver, Idiot Driver..." (See "Schwinn 24" above, for details on the Peek-A-Boo compilation.) 

When you buy a car, do you realize
Your money pays for things you probably despise
Like oil spills covering Alaskan land
Cash in a crooked politician's hand
Children dead on desert sand
So wouldn't it be nice if cars were banned?

Chorus:
Wouldn't it be nice if cars were banned?
Trees could grow upon the land
No more smog up in the sky
Let's make it happen by and by

Wouldn't it be great if streets were quiet
No car horns and engines to make a riot
Think of all the time you spend in traffic jams
Wouldn't it be great if they were banned?
Think of all the tax money that you owe
To pay for wild land to be covered up with road
And for hospitals for people hit by cars
Wouldn't it be great if they were barred?

(chorus)

Cars give us jobs, you may say
And they're just the good old American way
But GM doesn't care about American jobs.
They send 'em where they're cheaper, the greedy slobs
Imagine if kids could play without fear
That drivers'll hit them while drinking beer
And if you weren't stuck inside a metal cage
Running people down with your road rage

(chorus)

Shell Oil doesn't seem to care
If they poisoned the water or pollute the air
But if you're in Nigeria and mention that
They're going to execute you in no time flat*
We're drilling Alaskan wilderness
So gallons can be five cents less
And the Saudi royals got rich quick
And give money to terrorist lunatics

(chorus)

Greenhouse gasses fill the sky
And 40 thousand people a year will run over and die...
None of these problems would be there
If people had cars that they would share
If buses trains and bikes were everywhere.
This song could go on without any end
Until you realize that your car is not your friend
We're all car addicts, let's just say no,
And then those cars will have to go.

(chorus)

But we can change things, watch and see
(slower) We will have to, eventually
So let's get together, we'll work all day
To make those cars all go away

Last Chorus:
Won't it be nice when cars are banned
Trees could grow upon the land
No more smog up in the sky
It's gonna have to happen, by and by.

*refers to Ken Sero-Wiwa, a Nigerian activist
who was executed for protesting Shell Oil's
destruction of native lands

"If Cars Were Banned" by HEATHER LEV (2003)

A sweet, cheerful ode to the possibilities of life without the auto, by a cute NY-based folksinger. Her site has the full MP3 download of this song as well as others.

"London Traffic" by THE JAM (from This is the Modern World, 1977)

All Music Guide says, "The legacy of [punk band] The Jam is apparent in nearly every British guitar pop band of the '80s and '90s, from the Smiths to Blur and Oasis. More than any other group, The Jam kept the tradition of three-minute, hook-driven British guitar pop alive through the '70s and '80s, providing a blueprint for generations of bands to come."

London traffic (state of confusion) / London traffic (blocking the streets)
London traffic (going nowhere) / London traffic (polluting the air)
Drive round London in a car / Don't really want to go far
So many cars fill the streets / Wonder why we bother at all
London traffic is a problem / London traffic too many cars
One way systems look very neat / Coloured signs direct the streets
No one knows the answer / No one seems to care
Take a look at our city / Take the traffic elsewhere
Leave the city free from traffic / Give the place a chance to survive
Dirt and filth cover London / Give it a chance to breath again

My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law
And on Sundays I elude the eyes
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits

Jump to the ground
As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline
Run like the wind
As excitement shivers up and down my spine
Down in his barn
My uncle preserved for me an old machine
For fifty odd years
To keep it as new has been his dearest dream

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car
A brilliant red Barchetta
From a better vanished time
I fire up the willing engine
Responding with a roar
Tires spitting gravel
I commit my weekly crime

Wind / In my hair / Shifting and drifting
Mechanical music / Adrenaline surge...

Well-weathered leather / Hot metal and oil
The scented country air / Sunlight on chrome
The blur of the landscape / Every nerve aware

Suddenly ahead of me
Across the mountainside
A gleaming alloy air car
Shoots towards me, two lanes wide
I spin around with shrieking tires
To run the deadly race
Go screaming through the valley
As another joins the chase

Drive like the wind
Straining the limits of machine and man
Laughing out loud with fear and hope
I've got a desperate plan
At the one-lane bridge
I leave the giants stranded at the riverside
Race back to the farm
To dream with my uncle at the fireside

"Red Barchetta" by RUSH (from Moving Pictures, 1981)

This Canadian power-rock trio made waves with their highly technical arrangements and impressive proficiency with their instruments. Their heyday was the early 80's but they've been putting out music consistently from the 70's to the present. (I'm writing this in 2004.) "Red Barchetta", from their 1981 album Moving Pictures is a future fiction song about a time when cars have been banned, and the protagonist sneaks away on weekends to drive his uncle's secret Red Barchetta. Most reads see it as a celebration of the love of the automobile, or at least the resistance against government regulation, and these were the likely motivators behind the song, but there's another take: This poor slob has to go sneak out to the farm to get his jollies now that driving is illegal. How pathetic!


 Last Update: July 2010

 


Another site by Michael Bluejay...

Framed Wedding Invitations. The ultimate wedding gift: The wedding invitation beautifully mounted in an elegant frame and surrounded with real, pressed flowers.

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