When you’ve got time to ride, does one song or another play in high rotation in your mind (or even emerge through voice) as you pedal? If so, please share your favourite tune(s).
It’s time for a crowd-participation request on RIDE Media and this time it’s personal. Allow me to explain… When I ride it usually puts me in a good mood. When I’m in a good mood I’m prone to whistling and, if there’s no one around, I may even opt to sing. No, it’s not even close to a performance, but it raises my spirits and adds a smile.
There’s a long list of songs that comes to mind but, frankly, I’m looking for a few more.
A few weeks ago, a friend also cracked because of the repetition of her mind’s selection and, as one does in modern times, she turned to social media for assistance. What do you listen to she asked. Can you please share a few of your favourite songs?
It’s an obvious question, and she got a great response and a wealth of interesting suggestions.
Of course, this kind of thing has been done many times before and now it’s my turn.
(Oh, by the way, after almost 30 years of doing stories related to bike riding and many thousands of articles, I’ve never done this before. Usually I write about cycling… and, until now, never about music so don’t expect this to be a recurring theme – certainly not on this site.)
I’m doing this because there are some songs in my selection that seem to be repeated on high rotation and it’d be great to get some variety.
Could you please offer a few suggestions on what plays in your mind as you ride?
No, the RIDE Media site doesn’t take comments, largely because there are already too many other things to consider/distract… but there are the usual social media options to turn to if you’d like to suggest a tune or two from your playlist.
Of course, there’s also the playlist you listen to while you’re pedalling on the home trainer and feel free to nominate some tunes you tend to gravitate to in that situation but, for me, it’s a different thing altogether.
There are, for example, a few lines that emerge often when I begin a ride and that may determine the song that gets repeated for the hours I’m on the bike. I’ve taken this chance to offer 12 examples of some songs I turn to when riding. (Nominating 10 is too predictable.)
Of course, once you start thinking about something like this, the challenge is to stop before you mention every song on Spotify. Yes, there are many more in my repertoire than the 12 referenced here but these came to mind while writing this article.
In my list, I explain some of the context of how and why they play in my head – or emerge in sound while I’m riding. (Note: I only sing if no one else is around, as I’ve got a rotten singing voice… so I’m often told. And I’m not offended. It just a fact.)
I’m going to encourage you to use your preferred social media channel and offer a suggestion or two and perhaps even a comment on why the song comes to you – if you’re feeling chatty, feel free to explain what the tunes means to you, and perhaps even the mood that they elicit?
Thanks in advance.
Songs to sing why riding
Here are a few examples (in no particular order) of some tunes that keep me company when I’m riding on my own.
- I Stopped To Fill My Car Up | Stereophonics
The third and fourth lines bring this one to the top of mind often: “I didn’t know where I was going, but it felt good for a change.” Great song. And Kelly Jones’ raspy voice is great fun to try and replicate. (As if I could…!) The storytelling is cool and although you’ve probably heard the tune before, have you ever listened – and paid attention to it all the way to the end? Nice punchline… so try it if you don’t know it.
- The River | Bruce Springsteen
Of course this is on the list! It could be the best song ever. It makes me happy and sad, in equal parts. It’s beautiful, timeless, and a tragedy. And this line gets me everytime: “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” Genius! There is a live version in which Bruce introduces The River with a yarn about him and his father. Find it, listen… and appreciate him for what he is: the most prolific songwriter of our time.
- It’s The End Of The World As We Know It | R.E.M.
In 1992, while on the obligatory, coming-of-age backpacking trip around Europe, I invested a good part of a day trying to write down all the words. (Yes kids, before the internet that’s how we learned lyrics.) I can get a fair way through the song while riding… but then I lose the lines and tend to go back to: “That’s great it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes…” and then it flows again. It’s a good game. Dare you to try it some time.
- Just Like Heaven | The Cure
Actually, I could list almost the entire catalogue of The Cure – and this isn’t my favourite song of theirs (that prize could go to The Forest, or Primary, or Disintegration, or Shake Dog Shake, or Fascination Street or… well, so many others) but I’m going with Just Like Heaven because it springs to mind often when looking for something to cheer me up. There are so many lines by Robert Smith that prompt me to sing, but this is a great one: “I opened up my eyes, and found myself alone, alone, alone above a raging sea…”
- Big Time Sensuality | Björk
Oh come on, who doesn’t have fun belting this out when no one is watching?! Short, fun… loud voice! “It takes courage to enjoy it.” Love it. Great for riding. Don’t hold back. Sing it with a grin, and you know you will enjoy it.
- Fais Tes Comptes | Jul
Yep, gotta add a bit of French rap to the mix… this one is included for a couple of reasons: it’s outta left-field, it’s great fun to listen to, and I’m challenging myself to try and learn the lyrics and match the pace of Jul… “Ça porte les couilles des gens, ca se prend pour la relève…” Oh yeah, and the chatter at the end always makes me giggle.
- Cool Thing | Sonic Youth
Admit it, once you start this, you can’t stop… it gets you in and before you know it, you’re asking: “I just want to know, what are you gonna do for me?” Kim Gordon simply rocks…! I love all of the Goo album. When it comes up on shuffle, it always makes me happy. Feedback anyone…! (I’m talking noise, not commentary.)
- Good Riddance | Green Day
“For what it’s worth it was worth all the while…” You know it. Green Day have so many other great songs, plenty of which are appropriate for this list. But ask yourself: do you ever hit ‘skip’ when this comes on? Nah, no way. You can’t. Even the interrupted beginning lures you in and then Billie Joe starts to sing (after the “Oh f***”) and the words flow fantastically well. “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go…” and then it’s in your head and you’re off. You can sing it on repeat for hours.
- Let Me Down Easy | Gang Of Youths
This is new to me this year: it came up once and it’s perfect for riding. Great lyrics, good melody, and it’s easy to use the tune and substitute words of your own as they spring to mind… and somehow you can make anything rhyme. (Yeah, except ‘orange’. I know.) Love this one: “I got solipsism, baby, and I brought lemonade.” But every line of this song is golden.
- Hurt | Johnny Cash
For something that starts: “I hurt myself today, to see if I could feel…” this is, believe it or not, quite an uplifting song. That’s how I see it at least, for it concludes: “I will keep myself. I would find a way.” Totally brilliant. And, with my voice, I’m not shy about singing this one… deep, dark, brilliant. And easy to sing on repeat.
- Lightning Crashes | Live
I never really knew the words. I kinda make ’em up as I ride along. But I tend to repeat this line often: “Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind.” And on it goes in my mind. Over and over and over again… with ease, often making up words to suit the mood I’m in. Had a great ride recently that lasted around five hours and this was the only song in my head.
- Flame Trees | Cold Chisel
This is just fantastic. Second best song ever? Maybe. Oddly, I’ve never owned a Cold Chisel album… but you can’t escape their work. The story of this song, the genius of the lines, and the reality of it makes me smile and cry. I could write a 5,000-word essay on the emotions that Flame Trees conjure. But, for some reason, this line gets me every time: “And there’s a girl falling in love near where the pianola stands, with a young local factory out-of-worker just holding hands…” (Some lyrics sites suggest it is ‘local factory auto worker‘, but I’m going with what I’ve written… as that’s how I hear it.) This is true favourite of mine, I love everything about this song.
* * * * *
Okay. That’s my list. It’s not my “Top 12” as I don’t think I could ever list my favourite songs (that is just too difficult to do). But I sing (or whistle) all of these song because of various reasons. They come to mind when I ride and I’d really like to know what other people sing when they’re on the bike.
Let me know if you have one or two suggestions… there is no need for 12 because, as you see, it turns a simple request into quite a list of explanations.
I look forward to any new tunes, or perhaps a reminder of ones I’ve long forgotten. Hope you can help.
Cheers. – Rob
PS. No, I never ride on the road with headphones. I’d love to, but… you know, traffic and stuff? It’s just not worth the risk.
PPS. There have been occasions when, on a remote trails, I’ve switched on the iPhone speaker and allowed myself the indulgence of music… but only if there’s no one else around. My playlist is my playlist and it doesn’t have to interrupt anyone else.
Again, thanks for any suggestions you may have. Variety, they say, is the spice of life.