posted on June 07, 2007 03:00
"We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man! ... And we wanna get loaded. And we wanna have a good time. And that's what we are gonna do. We are gonna have a good time... We are gonna have a party." These immortal words, uttered by Peter Fonda in cult biker movie, "The Wild Angels", found a new lease of life when they appeared in an edited form at the start of the Primal Scream track, 'Loaded'. I was reminded of them recently when I read a report in 'Bicycling Magazine' concerning a leisure cycle along America's best road. The article contained a vignette about a group of the cyclists on the trip who spent their evenings watching 'Wild Angels' on DVD, drinking beer and playing their guitars into the early hours of dawn. The overall impression was of cycling as rock & roll, rebellion, freedom, sticking it to The Man, partying and the open road.
So, with a month to go before the start of the 2007 Tour De France it was interesting to do a short trawl of i-Tunes to see that a number of famous musicians have written songs about bicycles. There is, of course, Queen who sang how, "I don't wanna be a candidate for Vietnam or Watergate / Cause all I wanna do is / Bicycle bicycle bicycle". There is Pink Floyd who revealed that, "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." There is the elegiac 'Broken Bicycles' by Tom Waits that parallels a broken love affair with, "Broken bicycles / Old busted chains / With busted handle bars / Out in the rain." And there are also hymns to the simple velo by HAL, John Cale and the fragrant Katie Melua. Most importantly, there is Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France'.
If there is one cyclist that embodies all these diverse qualities then it is Lance Armstrong, a genuinely heroic athlete who fought off cancer to come to win Le Tour seven times, has since raised millions of dollars for cancer support and research, was briefly engaged to Sheryl Crow and, being a Texan, has a healthy streak of the rebel yell runing though his veins. So, to finish, I thought I would show you an advert he did for Nike that has a genuine touch of poetry to it and a soundtrack that tugs at your heart strings in the right way. Vive Le Tour, ride free or die.