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DTStudy: Motorcycle Song (Arlo Guthrie)

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Joe Offer 31 May 17 - 05:00 AM
Joe Offer 31 May 17 - 05:09 AM
Rob Naylor 31 May 17 - 05:12 AM
Joe Offer 31 May 17 - 05:27 AM
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Subject: DTStudy: Motorcycle Song (Arlo Guthrie)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 May 17 - 05:00 AM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

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I don't think most people give this song the respect this song deserves. Lots of people know the chorus, but they don't know what a great springboard it is for Arlo Guthrie's storytelling prowess.
Here are the words we have in the Digital Tradition:

MOTORCYCLE SONG
(Arlo Guthrie)

I don't want a pickle,
Just want to ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't want a tickle,
'Cause I'd rather ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't w[Am]ant to die,
Just want to ride on my motorcy--cle.

It was late last night the other day,
I thought I'd go up and see Ray.
So I went up and I say Ray--
There was only one thing Ray could say, was:

I don't want a pickle,
Just want to ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't want a tickle,
'Cause I'd rather ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't want to die,
Just want to ride on my motorcy--cle.

Copyright Arlo Guthrie
@motorcycle
filename[ MOTORCYC
DP
apr96

1967 Arlo Guthrie Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF_0iNiCFHw

1995 (?) Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vfj98FdcWc4


Song & 'Significance of the Pickle' Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn2hKqyGH6U

Lyrics from Rise Up Singing:


MOTORCYCLE SONG
(Arlo Guthrie)

I don't want a pickle,
Just want to ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't want to tickle,
'Cause I'd rather ride on my motorsickle.
And I don't want to die,
Just want to ride on my motorcy—cle.


Late last night the other day, I thought I'd go up and see Ray.
So I went up and I saw Ray, There was only one thing Ray could say, was: CHORUS


Late last week I was on my bike, run into a friend named Mike
I run into a friend named Mike, Mike no longer has a bike. He cries: CHORUS


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Subject: ADD: Motorcycle Song (Arlo Guthrie)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 May 17 - 05:09 AM

But Wait! There's more!
    MOTORCYCLE SONG
    (Arlo Guthrie)

    I don't want a pickle,
    Just want to ride on my motorsickle.
    And I don't want a tickle,
    'Cause I'd rather ride on my motorsickle.
    And I don't want to die,
    Just want to ride on my motorcy--cle.

    It was late last night the other day,
    I thought I'd go up and see Ray.
    So I went up and I say Ray--
    There was only one thing Ray could say, was:

    I don't want a pickle,
    Just want to ride on my motorsickle.
    And I don't want to tickle,
    I'd rather ride on my motorsickle.
    And I don't want to die,
    Just want to ride on my motorcy--cle.

    Late last night the other day
    I thought I'd go up and see Ray
    So I went up and I saw Ray
    There was only one thing Ray could say, was
    CHORUS

    (Talk) Everybody here ought to sing tonight.
    You don't have to sing.
    And if you're new here and don't know the words I'd even rather that you didn't sing. But it's not one of those difficult songs. Quite simply it goes: "I don't want a pickle, just want to ride on my motor-sickle." And anything that rhymes after that is groovy. So you don't have too much to sweat tonight. We'll try it now—four part harmony— here it is:

    CHORUS

    (Talk) That was great. It wasn't as enthusiastic as it should have been though. Because of that lack of enthusiasm I'm going to have to tell you about how I wrote the song. And maybe you'll get more enthusiastic about it.
    Maybe you won't.
    It was about the time that I was riding my motorcycle, going down a mountain road—at a hundred and fifty miles an hour—playing my guitar. On one side of the mountain road there was a mountain, and on the other side there was nothing. It was a cliff in the air.
    You know, when you're going down a mountain road at a hundred and fifty miles an hour you've got to be very careful. Especially if you're playing a guitar. Especially if that guitar is an acoustic guitar. Because if it's an acoustic guitar the wind pressure is greater on the box side than on the neck side. 'Cause there's more guitar on the box side. I wasn't paying attention. Luckily I didn't go into the mountain. I went over the cliff.

    I was going at a hundred and fifty miles an hour sideways and five hundred feet down at the same time. I knew it was the end. I looked down. I said, "Wow—some trip!"

    I thought it, well, I knew it was my last trip. And in my last remaining seconds in the world I decided to write one last farewell song to the world. I put a new ink cartridge in my pen. Took out a piece of paper. I sat back and I thought a while. Then I started writing: "I don't want a pickle. I just want to ride on my motorsickle. I don't want to tickle. I'd rather ride on my motorsickle. And I don't want to die. Just want to ride on my motorsie. . . cle."

    Well, I knew that it wasn't the best song I ever wrote. But I didn't have time to change it. I was coming down mighty fast. But as you all know—and as Fate would have it—I didn't die. I landed on the top of a police car. And he died.

    I drove away on the road that he was on. I came into town at a screaming hundred and seventy-five miles an hour, playing the motor- sickle song. I came into town and jumped off my bike. The bike went around the corner by itself, went up on the stand by itself, turned itself off.

    I went over to my friend. He was standing there eating pickles. I said, "Hi, what's happening." He looked at me in the eye and said, "Nothing."

    You've got to sing it with that kind of enthusiasm.
    Like you just squashed a cop.

    CHORUS

ADDITIONAL VERSE from Arlo's first album (Reprise RS 6267)
Late last week I was on my bike
Run into a friend named Mike
I run into a friend named Mike
Mike no longer has a bike, he cries

from Sing Out! Magazine, Volume 19, Number 1, April/May 1969, pp. 17-19


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Motorcycle Song (Arlo Guthrie)
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 31 May 17 - 05:12 AM

Makes me want to get out my old vinyl copy of "Alice's Restaurant". The song (and story) is on the B side, IIRC!


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Motorcycle Song (Arlo Guthrie)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 May 17 - 05:27 AM

Here 'tis, Rob: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn2hKqyGH6U

I like Arlo's singing, but he is an absolutely amazing storyteller. The Sing Out! transcription captured an earlier version of the story, before the pickle embellishment.

Here's a live performance (gee, he was young then): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA

Oh, and here's "Coming Into Los Angeles": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWfuQozpxSE

-Joe-


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