The blizzards in New York and Chicago might have moved on, but the streets are nowhere close to being cleared of snow. Looking out the window of the Flavorpill offices, we’re suddenly nostalgic for times when a constant blur of bicycles would whiz by below, delivery boys and commuters alike pedaling freely toward their destination.
Taking a recommendation from our @flavorpill Twitter followers, we’ve compiled a playlist of the best songs about bicycling, perfect for a commute, reminding you to get out and ride once the big melt is over. Or use it as fodder for imagining Anthony Kiedis or Tom Waits cruising along on a ten speed. Either way.
TV On The Radio – “Bicycles Are Red Hot”
A hilarious gem off of the first release from the Brooklyn band, when humor trumped sonic variation. It’s difficult to tell what exactly the guys are talking about here, but hey! Bicycles are red-hot. Especially in Brooklyn.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Bicycle Song”
Anthony Kiedis assures us in the chorus that the bicycle is a good invention. It truly must be if he feels strongly enough about that fact to include it in a song that otherwise includes gratuitous references to oral sex.
The Beach Boys – “It’s A Beautiful Day”
A surfy B-side, this slice of sun and propulsive piano imagines an L.A. where the freeways are jammed with bicycles instead of cars. Idealistic, yes, but something tells us that freeway bikers and L.A. drivers would be a dangerous combination
Tom Waits – “Broken Bicycles”
Wait’s voice is as grizzled as the road you ride on. Here, he uses bicycles as a metaphor for love lost, refusing to give up painful memories no matter how tangled or twisted they might be.
Danny Elfman – “Theme from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure“
This fantastic theme fits perfectly with the whimsical, classic tale of a boy and his bike. Madcap and iconic work by Danny Elfman for anyone who ever truly loved their bike as a best friend.
Pink Floyd – “Bike”
The track begins with a clanging bell, and slowly devolves in to a psychedelic miasma that characterized so much of Pink Floyd’s work during the Syd Barrett-era. Slightly creepy but very straightforward in bicycle love, refusing to lend out the machine.
Kraftwerk – “Tour De France”
Members of Kraftwerk are renowned cycling fanatics, puportedly delaying the release of albums to accomodate their attention to the sport. We’re lucky that they took the time to make this scratchy electro ode to the roads, with thick German lyrics that translate to descriptions of the actual Tour de France route, with a dose of competitive intrigue
Flobots – “Handlebars”
The song seems satirical, extolling aspects of life that might be important but aren’t necessarily awesome (Splitting the atom of a molecule? Have fun with that.). That said, have you ever tried riding a bike with no handlebars? Surprisingly difficult, so that is the one authentically realistic accomplishment for Flobots as opposed to their claims of nuclear holocaust capabilities.
Madness – “Riding On My Bike”
First it was their house, now it’s their bike. The song tells the story of a cyclist biking for charity, with ominous background vocals suggesting opponents trailing close behind.
Queen – “Bicycle Race”
As if there was ever any doubt, this song is the ultimate in cycling glorification. Freddie Mercury and Co. repeat “bicycle” 41 times and ringing bike bells act as the bridge. A reminder that bikes are way more important than Peter Pan, Frankenstein, Superman, and the presidency.
Honorable mentions: “Narrow Your Eyes” by They Might Be Giants; “This Charming Man” by The Smiths; “Pretty Good Year” by Tori Amos; “Midnight Bicycle Mystery” by Deerhoof; “Slow Bicycle” by múm; “Tony’s Theme” by Pixies; “Apology Song” by The Decemberists.