Sunday, September 24, 2017

Now hear this: 5 musical lessons learned on the great Upstate New York Motorbike Tour

LULLABY FOR A HARLEY: It's gettin' on. Sometimes it needs a nap. Now.
When my twin daughters Ev and Ria were tiny babies, my father Tom, who lived 300 km north in our hometown of Sudbury, called them the "tough girls from Toronto."

Tom died before Ria and Ev were even able to walk, but I know he would be thrilled that this past August, I and one of those tough girls, Ev, took a five-day motorbike trip around northern New York State; she on her 2002 BMW 650 GS and me on my aging but still reliable 1993 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. The trip was unforgettable and as I mentioned to my neighbour Pierre only yesterday, sometimes, just recalling certain moments of our week make me feel good inside.
EARS LOOKIN' AT YOU KID: Earbuds took biking to a whole new level.

Among the grace notes: the soundtracks. 

During much of the ride, Ev and I wore earbuds and motorcycled to carefully compiled playlists. (Ev helped build mine, which led to quite a few wonderful surprises.)

Cruising around well-paved winding two-lane roads to music you love is a magical transcendent experience and it just occurred to me that I've never used the word transcendent before so I must have been subconsciously saving it up for a special occasion and this is it.

While I won't bore you with a play-by-play (get it?) account,  I want to share five musical highlights. In ascending order of emotion.

5)  Not sure whether it was Ev or me that added AC/DC's Thunderstruck to my mp3 player. And I'd never listened to the song closely before but here's what I learned on the bike.  Remember Pierre from a few paragraphs ago? Turns out, when his family's dog, Junior, fetches a ball, he makes a sound that is a lot like the growling noise you hear in the first few bars of Thunderstruck,  Turn up your speakers and here's Junior, fetchingAnd here's  "Thunderstruck." 

4)  One of the pieces I downloaded was the "William Tell Overture"; a.k.a. "Theme from the Lone Ranger and some Bugs Bunny shows, too."  What I didn't know was that you don't get to the Lone Ranger part until about 8.5 minutes into the 12-minute piece but leading up to it is some simply breathtaking meandering meadow-driving-past music. Lesson being, not every motorcycle song has to sound like Thunderstruck.

3) Which brings us to John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and it was on our trip that I first noticed that he sings the following heartfelt sentiment to his girlfriend: "All those times I've fooled around; they don't mean a thing."  I wonder if she was like, "Okay John. Since you put it that way."

2) Is a twofer: Two of the finest road songs are both called "On The Road Again;" One by Willie Nelson; another by Canned Heat.  I can't decide which is better. So it's a tie.

1)  Finally, I still remember which stretch of New York highway we were on when--moved by the scenery, the joy of being with Ev, the thrill of the bike, and well, hearing for the very first time this song that Ev managed to sneak on to my playlist, I started, well, crying. Behind my visor, real salty tears. Just a-streamin.'

Ev might be a tough biker girl from Toronto but she sure knows where her old man's soft-spots are. The song, which has stuff about biking with her dad, is performed by Beyonce and the Dixie Chicks; is called  "Daddy Lessons"  ; and  I hope I keep on learning them until I die.  


  1. Your story brings beautiful memories I enjoyed with my offspring

    1. Thanks Tom. Best thing about memories is that we can keep on making them. In some cases, up.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you.. Really appreciate your reading and commenting! Have a good day sir

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