White Bike-Psych

The Sixties — more specifically the Summer of Love (1967) — produced some interesting art and music. To me, there’s something appealing about the whole psychedelic thing. Spirals, kaleidoscopes, vivid colors, and Indian-influenced music. Apparently the origin of psychedelic is supposed to mean “soul revealing” or “mind manifesting.” Whoa, man, that’s heavy. (For the record, the only acid I’ve ever “dropped” was the saclicylic kind — commonly known as Compound W — you know, plantar wart removal.)

In any event, I find it hard to separate the music and the imagery — maybe that’s because I enjoy them both. I thought about doing a list of my favorite or all-time best songs in this category, but decided to start with a hidden gem called “My White Bicycle” by a British band called Tomorrow.

The song has a definite trippy, Indian feel to it — thanks in part to the backwards instrumentation on it and the whispered echoes of “My White Bicycle.” (More about the origin of the song in a moment.) When you hear the words “white bicycle” you automatically get an image of one. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of the psychedelic thing, too — putting a trippy spin on something ordinary.

The first time I heard this song was riding in the car with my cousins at Lake of the Ozarks. It was on an 8-track tape with Nazareth’s harder rock version.

It’s a different interpretation from the original, but I’m living proof that Nazareth kept this song alive and spread it to the masses. Osage Beach, Missouri is a long way from Abbey Road (where Tomorrow originally recorded the song. Tomorrow featured a pre-Yes Steve Howe on guitar.)

Apparently the song was inspired by an Amsterdam anarchist outfit called The Provos. They wanted to alleviate traffic by leaving free, white bicycles at the disposal of their countrymen among other things.

If you don’t like the song or the psychedelic thing, hopefully, you’ll get a chuckle out of this novelty version featuring Neil the Hippie (Nigel Planer) from 1980s British TV comedy The Young Ones.

If you enjoy parody and/or psychedelia, you must seek out “Neil’s Heavy Concept Album.” Great title. “My White Bicycle” was written by Tomorrow band members Keith Hopkins and Ken Burgess. To put it into perspective, I even found pics of John and Yoko with a Provo White Bike.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

4 thoughts on “White Bike-Psych

  1. And I think I find off the beat songs sometimes…this is great. I like both versions…very different….but I’m partial to the Tomorrow version…
    The parody is cool…nicked the bicycles and painted them yellow…

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  2. I stumbled across the Neil the Hippie version on YouTube then went back and found the original.

    It’s interesting how the Indian instruments still pop up in songs today as an effect.

    There’s a 90s one hit wonder with some really cool backwards guitar on it. Have to find more info on it.

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  3. While recording on Cubase I’ve played with backwards guitar…it can be used to great effect and not sound spacey…but there is nothing wrong with sounding spacey.

    I love the sitar and anyone who still uses it. In the 80s I was happy to hear one…or close to one in Tom Petty’s Don’t Come Around Here No More.

    The original is cool…surprised I’ve never heard it.

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  4. The sitar/Indian thing is pretty wild. I heard it used as an effect on “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz yesterday on some Muzak. One of my favorite backwards guitar songs is called “Three Strange Days” by School of Fish. Very Sixtieis-ish!

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