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Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf's Motorcycle Anthem



With the line "heavy metal thunder," this became the first popular song to use the phrase "heavy metal," which became a term for hard rock. William Burroughs is credited with coining the phrase, as he used it in his 1961 novel The Soft Machine, describing his character Uranian Willy as "the Heavy Metal Kid." Burroughs told The Paris Review: "I felt that heavy metal was sort of the ultimate expression of addiction, that there's something actually metallic in addiction, that the final stage reached is not so much vegetable as mineral."

This was used in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, a counterculture classic starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda as bikers who ride from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Another Steppenwolf song, "The Pusher," was also used in the film. When the movie was in production, this was simply a placeholder, since Fonda wanted Crosby, Stills and Nash to do the soundtrack. It became clear that the song belonged in the movie, and it stayed. Partly because of it's use in Easy Rider, this has become the song most associated with motorcycles.

"Born to be wild" was written by Mars Bonfire, which is the stage name of Dennis Edmonton. He wasn't a member of Steppenwolf, but his brother Jerry was the band's drummer. Bonfire wrote a few other songs for Steppenwolf as well, including "Ride With Me" and "Tenderness." Explaining how he came up with the song, Bonfire said:

"I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard one day and saw a poster in a window saying 'Born to Ride' with a picture of a motorcycle erupting out of the earth like a volcano with all this fire around it. Around this time I had just purchased my first car, a little secondhand Ford Falcon. So all this came together lyrically: the idea of the motorcycle coming out along with the freedom and joy I felt in having my first car and being able to drive myself around whenever I wanted. 'Born To Be Wild' didn't stand out initially. Even the publishers at Leeds Music didn't take it as the first or second song I gave them. They got it only because I signed as a staff writer. Luckily, it stood out for Steppenwolf. It's like a fluke rather than an achievement, though."


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

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