Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild

Get your motor runningHead out on the highway

This song is iconic and known all over the world. I automatically think of motorcycles and bar bands. We played in a few bars that bikers were visitors…this song was a requirement if you wanted to continue breathing.

Born To Be Wild has been used in countless amounts of shows and movies…One request to use the song however was turned down in 2004. Paris Hilton wanted to use it as part of her reality show The Simple Life 2. Kay denied it, telling the Toronto Star, “There are certain things even a rock ‘n’ roller will not stoop to.”

After reading that…my respect for John Kay just took a giant leap!

The song was used in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, the counterculture classic. Another Steppenwolf song, “The Pusher,” was also used in the film.

When the movie was in production, this was simply a placeholder. Peter Fonda wanted Crosby, Stills, and Nash to do the soundtrack. It became clear that the song belonged in the movie, and it stayed. Being included in this movie cemented the song’s association with motorcycles… “Teach Your Children” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

This 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.”

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┬áThe Soft Machine, describing his character Uranian Willy as “the Heavy Metal Kid.”

The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #30 in the UK, and #32 in New Zealand in 1968.

Mars Bonfire (Writer): “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.”

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

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