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Bicycles and Music

There have been many records that have been produced about riding bicycles and there is something about the natural rhythm of riding a bike that goes so well with music. This isn’t a modern trend and composers have been writing music about the bicycle since it first appeared at the end of the 20th century.

The original cover for “Daisy Bell”

In 1892 the British song writer Harry Dacre wrote “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)”. The song was inspired by Daisy Greville who was one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII and was sung for many years in music halls up and down the country. The image of cycling in the countryside was painted by the 1968 French song “a Bicyclette” that told the story of a boy and a girl cycling away from the centre of town. The pair would then travel through corn fields and this picture reflected the freedom associated with riding a bicycle.

The release of “Bicycle” by Mark Olsen and Gary Louris in 2008 attempted to reflect a person’s passage through life. The lyrics “On your bicycle at night / no lights to guide” was referring to some peoples journey as they progressed through their lives. In other words, some people experienced times when their lives were coming off the rails.

Sometimes singing about a bicycle can be a suggestion that someone has to ride a bike as they simply cannot afford a car. In 1961 Fats Domino released “Rockin Bicycle” with the implication being that despite not being able to afford a large Cadillac, the boy and his girlfriend are happy enough travelling around on their bicycle that is made for two. Some of the greatest selling artists have sung about bicycles. Rod Stewart was the lead singer of the Faces when in 1971 they released the single “Had Me a Real Good Time”. It told the story of a poor boy on a bike meeting an upper glass girl. Despite the differences in social class they end up resulting in being together.

The controversial video for “Bicycle Race”

Queen were another popular band who wrote a song about a bike. The release of their single “Bicycle Race” in 1978 was renowned for the release of the accompanying video which showed 65 nude women riding bikes around Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. It was banned in several countries with the song being inspired when the group caught a glimpse of the 1978 Tour de France passing their recording studio in Montreux.

There are certain countries around the world where cycling is more popular than in other regions. In 2005 Katie Melua released “Nine Million Bicycles”. In the song Melua insinuated that the fact that there were definitely nine million bikes in Beijing, was as certain as the fact that the love for her man would never die.

The bike has been used in records to represent freedom and love. It has also shown that despite the bike having an image of being a cheap method of transport, those who use the bike are often enriched by the experience of doing so.