Fifty Years of ‘Born To Be Wild’ – Celebrating A Rebel Anthem

‘Get your motor runnin, head out on the highway.’

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted January 29th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

I was at a birthday party for one of my high school classmates in 1968 where we were each received a gift of thanks for attending.

I can’t remember what I was given but a friend of mine got a copy of record album with a five pretty wild and hairy looking guys on the cover.

The album was called ‘Steppenwolf’, which was also the name of the band  responsible for the 11 tracks of music inside, and of a very popular novel at the time by German author Hermann Hesse that this Canadian-based – previously known as ‘The Sparrows’ – renamed itself after.

The album had barely been released when my friend got it so we had never heard this music before, but when we put it on and finally got to a song called Born To Be Wild, which opened with what sounded like an air hammer coming down with a double hit on a snare drum, followed by a power chord lead in to a shout out destined to capture the free spirit in almost everyone who was a fan of rock music at the time.

“Get your motor running, head out on the highway,” belted out the band’s lead singer John Kay. “Lookin for adventure, and whatever comes our way.”

The album and the song barely scratched the charts at first, but by spring and summer, Born To Be Wild was scorching up the playlists of virtually every DJ on a rock station across North America, and became one of the biggest hits of all time for a rock band from Canada.

A year later, it was featured as a theme song in ‘Easy Rider’, a movie that quickly became a cult classic starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson in one of his very first movie roles. Written by Ottawa-native Dennis Edmonton (stage name Mars Bonfire), it has since been used in literally dozens of other movies, TV shows and commercials since, and it still grips young ears just as it did mine, the first time I heard it 50 years ago.

Steppenwolf’s first album, featuring ‘Born To Be Wild’ and another highlight from the soundtrack of  Easy Rider – a song demining drug dealers called ‘The Pusher’ – was released 50 years ago this January 29th, 2018, and remains a classic in the history of rock music.

When it comes to rebel anthems, there are as few songs that come as close to reaching the core as Born To Be Wild to this day.

On a cold January day, just had to get that little tribute to a song out there, and here are the lyrics –  

“Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under

Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild”

To listen to the song in its soundtrack role in the 1969 cult classic film, Easy Rider, click on

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

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