Bikin’ To A Great Truckin’ Song

You’d think this Cycle365 Monthly Challenge would be particularly easy for me since I’m the one who proposed it, and you’d probably assume I had already thought long and hard about it and had my ride and song ready to go.  While it’s true that I have thought long and hard about it, selecting a song has been much more difficult than I imagined.

Millions of songs have been written and recorded.  Luckily there are only about 10,000 of them that I like.  Yet, 10,000 is a pretty big number of songs to pick from for this project.  It’s almost like trying to narrow all the words in the dictionary to one single favorite word.  (Actually, that was a bad example because, in my case, the words “ME” and “MY” would easily make the top of the list.)  Let’s use this example instead:

 

TRYING TO SELECT A FAVORITE SONG FOR THIS CHALLENGE IS LIKE TRYING TO PICK A FAVORITE SNOWFLAKE IN A WHOLE FOOTBALL FIELD OF SNOW. IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

 

Well, March has arrived and a couple of people have already posted some rides for the Song Challenge.  That’s a little embarrassing.  I decided that if I expected to be a leader –not a follower — of my own challenge, I had better make some kind of commitment ASAP.  My solution was to go to Google Play where I’ve stored about 200 of my favorite albums.  I said to myself, “click on ‘SHUFFLE’ and the very first song that comes up will be my theme for the day.”

Oh yeah, it was a great idea in theory, but it didn’t work out.  The first song was Neil Young’s “Round and Round” (the version with CrazyHorse.)  I forwarded to the next one, Grateful Dead’s “Brokedown Palace.”  Then came “The Hook” by Stephen Malkmus.  I like all those songs but none of them connected with me at the time.  None of the next bunch of songs made an immediate impression either.  That’s when I decided I would keep forwarding through the playlist until I finally came to a song that reminded me of a very special place and time.

I clicked forward another 20 or 30 times until I came across a song that definitely fit my criteria.  I chose the one you’ll see below because, not only did it bring back a memory, but it’s also a pretty darn good song.

 

 

Wow, I just listened to the song again and I think I’ll have to get to the specific memory in the next paragraph.  Lowell George’s lyrics now resonate with me in ways I never thought about before.  For example, I too have been “warped by the rain, driven by the snow.”  And I consider myself a trucker, of sorts, because I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker.  Plus, The Feeshko’s real name is Alice and she really IS pretty (though I’ve never called her “Dallas Alice.”)  And, truth be told, I’ve used “weed, whites, and wine” in days gone by.  And when it comes to cycling, I AM “willin’ to be movin’.”  I admit I haven’t “driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made” and I haven’t “driven the backroads so I wouldn’t get weighed.”  But I HAVE driven quite a few bikes that have been made and I’ve driven the backroads so I wouldn’t get slayed (by a truck driver.)

I had fun adapting the lyrics to my own purposes, but here’s where the song immediately reminded me of a certain place and time.  After The Feeshko and I moved to the Minneapolis-St.Paul area, I re-connected with some college acquaintances who had moved here a couple years earlier and we are great friends to this day.  We saw many fine bands from the area in the early 1980’s.  We had some crazy, crazy times.

On the particular night I referred to earlier, we checked out The Mary Jane Alm Band — a cover band with a good local reputation thanks to the namesake lead singer.  I think it was on a cold winter night in early 1982 and the place was a now-defunct music venue called Mister Nibs. [*See Footnote]

Mary Jane Alm was mesmerizing in how she should easily alternate between a voice dripping with sweetness and a voice soaring with soul and power.  She was sort of a blonde Twin Cities version of Linda Ronstadt.  And that night she sang a very impressive version of “Willin’.”  In my opinion, it was her best song of the evening.

This morning I thought it would be cool to drive to Minneapolis and re-visit the area around Mr. Nibs with my bike.  Since I couldn’t remember exactly where Mr. Nibs was, I Googled the address and learned that the building had actually burned down a couple decades ago.  Even so, I wanted to check out the site.

 

THE PROPERTY HAS BEEN REBUILT AND, SAD TO SAY, IT LOOKS NOTHING LIKE I REMEMBER IT.  (AND I KNOW, GIVEN THE TRUCKIN’ THEME, THAT A PICTURE OF MY LONG HAUL TRUCKER WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE APPROPRIATE.  HOWEVER, THE RECKLESS MR. BING BONG IS AT THE PARK TOOL HEADQUARTERS, BEING PREPPED FOR MY UPCOMING BIKE TOUR.)

 

HERE’S A STOCK PHOTO OF HOW MR. NIBS LOOKED BACK IN THE DAY.

 

I RODE A COUPLE MILES TO WHISKEY JUNCTION. MY FREINDS AND I SAW A FEW BANDS HERE TOO.

 

JUST UP THE STREET IS THE CABOOZE. WE SAW THE ICONIC POST-PUNK BAND, THE REPLACEMENTS, HERE IN ONE OF THEIR FAMOUSLY DRUNKEN PERFORMANCES.

 

Most of the other venues we went to back then are located in downtown Minneapolis.  I didn’t feel like riding up there when the streets are still a little icy, so I backtracked and rode a few miles on the Midtown Greenway — one of America’s great urban bicycle commuter routes.

 

I LIKE THIS INTERSECTION WITH ITS SIGNAGE AND THE VIEW OF THE MINNEAPOLIS SKYLINE.

 

I know this post is getting pretty long — and maybe I should put an end to it right now — but in addition to Mary Jane Alm’s memorable performance, something else happened too.  If you’re bored, I grant you permission to stop reading.

As we were leaving Mr. Nibs, a very short woman with long dark hair, Native American I think, tried to pick me up.  She was very aggressive about it, grabbing me, rubbing her frontal area against me, and whispering unintelligible words in my ear.  She was very drunk . . . or high on drugs . . . or maybe both.  She might have even been a prostitute.  I tried to discourage her by telling her my girlfriend probably wouldn’t appreciate me bringing her home.  My friends and I left and, as we walked up the street laughing and joking, I remember also feeling very sorry for that girl.

 

[*Footnote:]  I must give credit to my friend Al.  I could not remember the name of the music venue, so I texted him last night to see if he remembered it.  Of course he did!  He was a drummer in the Marquette, Michigan musical underground before moving to Minneapolis, where he became, and continues to be, a big fan of local live music.  He’s still drumming and has played in several Mpls. bands and local jam sessions.  He also remembered a few other details from that night at Mr. Nibs which I had completely forgotten about.  I don’t think I’ll get into that right now.]

 

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

11 response to "Bikin’ To A Great Truckin’ Song"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: March 2, 2020

    An excellent choice in music! I have at least three different versions on vinyl, including Little Feat (and Linda Ronstadt). I can see how it resonates with you.

    You know this line: “I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah….” Not too long ago, I realized I’ve been to all four of those places, which seemed like a strange and amazing accomplishment. On the other hand, I can make no claim to matching Johnny Cash with “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

    Anyway, great choice in music and great stories. And good Challenge for the month.

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 3, 2020

      If you’ve been to Tucson, Tucumcari, Tahachapi, and Tonopah, you’ve been ALMOST everywhere, man. Certainly everywhere that begins with a “T,” man.

  2. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: March 2, 2020

    Interesting story and photos — liked the music as well.

    At one time we had several taverns downtown and one nearby across the tracks. After hopping the Main Street establishments I understand they would then say “Lets go to the other place” — the one across the tracks. And at one point that became its Official name. (Very rough crowd in there, Very!)

    Cabooze is a cool name!

    I have a trucking song in mind, but for now will keep it under wraps.
    (At first I was almost sure it was the one you had selected.)

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 3, 2020

      I’ve seen bars in a few towns that were named The Other Place. There used to be one in Cedar Falls, IA that was a divey college bar. Most people just called it the O.P. Come to think of it, I believe any bar named The Other Place has to be kind of a dive.

      I have a feeling I might know the trucking song you are keeping under wraps.

  3. By: Lah Posted: March 2, 2020

    Wow! I assumed it was only women who had to watch out for advances from the opposite sex. That bike path looks like a great place to ride. I love riding in and around cities…Paris and Copenhagen were my favorites. Been to Minneapolis/St. Paul, but never had the opportunity to ride my bike while visiting. My last trip’s goal was to see the spoon and cherry. Loved that little outdoor art gallery.

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 3, 2020

      No, I guess those advances can happen to guys too, but certainly less commonly. I’m not exactly Brad Pitt or Paul McCartney, so thank goodness that was my one and only experience with sexual harassment.

      Yes, I like riding around big cities too, though I’ve never been to those European capitols. Someday I’d like to. And yes, “Spoon Bridge and Cherry” is probably the most significant symbol of Minneapolis’ hipness — along with First Avenue.

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: March 3, 2020

    Ah, Whiskey Junction – so that is what it looks like! Minneapolis has produced soooooooooooooooo many great artists and bands over the years. You could spend the whole month riding around to the places they performed, where they lived and worked, etc. Loved reading your story of memories while playing that song on youtube at the same time.
    I’ve fallen in love with another Minneapolis artist of late. He has an amazing back story, narrowly missed out on a Grammy to Keb Mo this year and has a voice that just resonates deep inside me somewhere. He is playing in St Paul next Friday! Check out JS Ondara, if you haven’t already come across him.
    I particularly like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeAUlVzcL7I

    • By: Bill Stone Posted: March 3, 2020

      Two thumbs up to JS Ondara. I was driving back from a bike ride last August when his “Lebanon” came on the radio. Wow! Soon as I got home, had to investigate his music. “Saying Goodbye,” which you pointed to, is also a favorite.

      Here’s “Lebanon” (which in this case seems to be the name of a woman): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJFWEUN6uQM

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 3, 2020

      Just as I was about to respond that I wasn’t previously familiar with JS Ondara, and that I listened to the music you linked and found his voice to be very unique and expressive, and that I looked up some fascinating info on his immigration from Kenya to Minneapolis, and that I was going to have to check out some more of his music, I saw Bill’s Two Thumbs Up review. His link made it easy for me to find a little more of his music, and it made me wonder: “Why is everybody talking about Lizzo and Dessa?” They’re both pretty good in their own way, I guess, but J.S. is something pretty special.

      One more thing: Your video was recorded in the studios of The Current–98.3 on my FM dial. It was one of the first public radio stations of it’s kind, playing an eclectic mix of cool new stuff as well as music from almost every imaginable genre. Very appropriate for the Twin Cities, whose musical heritage you correctly acknowledged.

      • By: The Navigator Posted: March 4, 2020

        Yes, I knew JS Ondara had a video for my fav song of his from The Current and grabbed that one especially for you, knowing you would appreciate it. I actually subscribe to The Current on youtube. I also subscribe to the KEXP channel from Seattle and the Bing lounge (Portland). I’ve discovered quite a few artists through subscribing to those three. One of my fav live Grant Hart performances was on The Current from about a year before he died.

  5. By: Hopkins Escapades Posted: March 3, 2020

    Super post, Greg! Enjoyed listening to the song while I read your write-up to Hopkins. I much prefer the look of Mr. Nibs to the new brick & mortar building it’s become. Also like the photo of the bike trail signage with the Minneapolis skyline behind. Really like the theme of music for this month’s challenge. Great suggestion by you. Cheers & happy pedaling.

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