The sunshine has inspired the We Buy Any Bike team to listen to some songs about motorcycles. Whilst doing this, we thought we’d write down our top 10 and do some research on what really makes them a ‘motorbike song’. Let’s find out together!
Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf.
Written by mars bonfire, brother of Steppenwolf drummer; ‘Born to be Wild’ is one of the most iconic songs from the 20th century. Many recognize this song to be very recognizable in the motorcycle industry. When it was first written, Bonfire was inspired by his first car, a Ford Falcon. During one of his first drives, he saw a poster saying ‘Born to Ride’ he instantly recognized the freedom of having a car, and the rest was history.
The song was first released in 1968. The first time people recognized it in motorcycling was the following year when it was introduced with the film ‘Easy Rider’. Whilst we’re here, you can check out some more motorcycle-related films here!
Bat out of Hell – Meat Loaf
Now, I have to say I ain’t the biggest Meat Loaf fan, so all the research on this one was a complete surprise to me. When songwriter Jim Steinmann wrote Bat out of Hell, he had the story of Peter Pan set as his inspiration. As well as this, he wanted a ‘rock and roll’ influence, which is where the bikes come in.
During the song, you’ll hear a bike… or what you might think is a bike. This is actually a guitar piece produced by Todd Rungdren, it later puzzled many fans over the world.
Bad to the Bone – George Thorogood & The Destroyers
Statistics show that this hit from George Thorogood & The Destroyers has shown to be the most popular song for motorcyclists in 2021 so far. Although the song isn’t directly about motorbikes, George Thorogood produced it taking influence from The Rolling Stones. He set out to write the song after going on tour with them and basically wanting to better his own band to be like theirs!
Girls Girls Girls – Mötley Crüe
This is always one I forget about. However, it came on the radio recently so I had to include it! At the beginning of this song, you will hear motorcycles revving. Unlike Rungdren’s artificial engine sounds, these ones are the real deal; produced by two of the band members’ Harleys. Now, we ain’t about to go into the inspiration for this one – you can look that up on your favourite search engine.
However, what we can tell you is that the members reportedly travelled from and to the music video scenes on their Harleys! This song was simply down to creative writing.
Hell Bent for Leather – Judas Priest
This song is very much inspired by bikes. The lead singer, Rob Halford even goes as far as to ride his personal Harley-Davidson on stage just for this song!
The story of the song itself is based around the idea that a biker appears out of nowhere, and they quickly become the fastest rider in the world! Following the release of this 1978 hit became a new trend that would grow and still be at large today. This trend, being the ‘leather and studs’ craze.
Little Honda by The Beach Boys
Toning it down a bit, next up we have this 1964 hit by The Beach Boys. Granted, it isn’t the biggest hit by the boys, but it was soon picked up by a familiar band, The Hondells. Little Honda is an appreciation song if anything for the Honda Supercub. In the song we can hear a reference to Matchless motorcycles in the following lyric:
“It climbs the hills like a Matchless”
Matchless first made its name in the industry back in 1899, they continued to produce motorcycles until 1966. Here’s another fun fact for you: Honda actually gifted songwriter and frontman, Brian Wilson a 60cc motorcycle as a thank you for producing the song!
Ride by Lana Del Rey
This song isn’t strictly about a bike in particular; more so about the concept of riding and being free. That’s where Lana got her inspiration for this song, anyway! Although she doesn’t have a licence at the moment, it’s rumoured to still be on the cards for the New York-Based Singer-Songwriter.
Highway To Hell – AC/DC
There’s just something about this song… I can’t listen to it on a rainy day, it’s got to be a hot one. However, that’s pretty difficult to come by here in England. Especially when the song is written based on what is believed to be the most dangerous road in Australia; The Canning Highway. The Raffles Bar and Hotel is also said to be an inspiration towards the end of the song. Songwriter Bon Scott was said to have loved this bar in his early adulthood before he passed away at the age of 33.
1952 Vincent Black Lightning – Richard Thompson
Believe it or not, this song isn’t just about a motorcycle. Richard Thompson failed to mention his girlfriend (theoretical or not) in the title of this one. It’s a bit of a sad story is this one; although beautifully written. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning tells of a bike-loving girl called ‘Red Molly’ who longs for a motorcycle of her own.
Years later her boyfriend, James; also the ‘singer’ in this instance (except it’s not). Anyway, James gets into a road accident and on his death bed he hands Red Molly the keys to his Vincent… she got what she wanted in the end!
Unknown Legend – Neil Young
This song tells the tale of a mother of 2 who worked in a diner and owned a Harley-Davidson. It is said that this song is inspired by Neil’s late wife, Pegi Morton-Young, who worked at a diner in her younger years. The pair had 2 children together; Amber, and her brother Ben. Ben suffers from Cerebal Palsy along with his half-brother Zeke from his dad’s side.
The Harley bit is believed to be a homage to Pegi’s life before Neil when she enjoyed travelling. We’re still not sure if she actually owned a bike though… but we like to believe she did.
What are your favourite songs about motorcycles?
So here were We Buy Any Bike’s top 10 songs about motorbikes. Let us know some fun facts about your favourite songs below!