Ever heard a song played and thought, “Man, if I had written that song, I’d be a wealthy dude.”?
This would be one of those songs. It’s been used countless (well maybe the publisher can count them) times in movies and on TV, as well as being played on the radio a zillion times.
Written by Mars Bonfire (stage name for Dennis Edmonton) for the group Steppenwolf back in 1968, reaching #2 on the charts (wonder what beat it out).
It’s been listed in the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time List” by Rolling Stone and in 2018 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (new category for singles). Ironically, Dennis wasn’t in the band but his brother was the drummer.
Though born in Canada, Dennis moved to LA and was inspired to write this song while driving his Ford Falcon in the mountains and deserts.
Apparently, one time he was caught in a terrible thunderstorm and had to pull over, but it inspired the line “I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder.” Funny that a song that invokes images of motorcycles was inspired in a Ford Falcon.
The great bass work was handled by Rushton Moreve, who later co-wrote their hit “Magic Carpet Ride.” Sadly, he died in a car accident in 1981.
As a bass player, you gotta love the bass lick around the 12 second mark of the intro. There are several pentatonic licks in this song that are played up high and you’ll want to steal these for other songs.
Like many bass parts, the key is the groove with the band. Don’t worry so much about being note perfect, but definitely be groove perfect.
Rushton...I salute you.
To the rest of you...get your motors runnin..