When I was younger and more idealistic, I might have crafted a 10,000-word essay this question. I don’t think I have that much idealism left, but I’ve got to ask anyway.
I got turned onto Steppenwolf as a little kid, thanks to the faux-live album with the snarling wolf on the cover. Their half dozen or so nasty rock classics were staples of AM radio, also bridging over to FM, when I finally got around to listening to FM radio. Their music was featured in Easy Rider, another key learning opportunity that my parents somehow turned me onto when I was about 7 years old. Steppenwolf was biker cool, man.
I still love listening to a Steppenwolf hit when it comes on the radio. Years ago, I tried listening to something other than the live album or their greatest hits. If you’ve been wondering if the deep cuts are worth the effort, trust me: they are not. That said, the band’s 5 or 6 killer singles retain their staying power.
OK, “Magic Carpet Ride” isn’t as mind-blowing as it was when I was 7, and “Born to Be Wild” has lost something thanks to overexposure, but “Hey, Lawdy Mama” came up on a playlist the other day, and I was as ready to pick a fight with a stranger as ever. That is possibly the most badass song ever. Some of those little guitar hooks could take down the best guitar hooks by the mighty Lynyrd Skynyrd.
And don’t get me started on “The Pusher.” It’s as ominous and unintentionally funny as ever.
We could be talking more often about the 5 or 6 great singles by Steppenwolf, but instead, we go on for days over T. Rex or lazy-ass Alex Chilton. Why?
I look forward to your thoughts.