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Shifters and sugarcubes -- Happy Bicycle Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 19, 2013 03:53pm | Post a Comment
Albert Hofmann Bike Ride Blotter 1943

Today marks the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered the properties of LSD, on 16 April, 1943, and rode his bike home.

THE DISCOVERY OF LSD

Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)
Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)

Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in his Basel laboratory in 1938 working for Sandoz Laboratories whilst studying scilla and ergot in an attempt to purify and synthesize the active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.

siberian scilla
Siberian scilla (image source: Digging RI)

He set aside his discovery for five years at which point he accidentally absorbed a quality through his fingertips and reported feeling dizzy, intoxicated, stimulated and seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors when he closed his eyes.


HOFMANN'S TRIP AND BIKE RIDE

His curiosity piqued, on 19 April Hofmann intentionally took 250 micrograms. He began tripping and rode his bike home. At first the experience was unpleasant. He 
was convinced that a neighbor was a 
witch who had poisoned him. A doctor visited him and reported nothing unusual except for dilated pupils. Thus reassured, his trip became much more pleasant. He later wrote of the experience:

"... little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..."


LSD's IMPACT ON CULTURE

In the years that followed, acid (as LSD is commonly known) became used for a variety of scientific and recreational purposes. It was first criminalized in California, on 6 October, 1966. The rest of the US and UK quickly followed. Of course acid had already made its mark. In music, it was the catalyst for psychedelic rock, which had by then spread to both sides of the Atlantic, and its subgenre, acid rock. I don't intend to cram the entire cultural history of LSD on humankind into a blog but I'd like to bring it back to bikes... because this is Bicycle Day, remember? Long before the discovery of acid bicycles were the subjects of popular songs.


THE INVENTION OF AND EARLY SONGS ABOUT BICYCLES

Dandy Horse

Bicylces were invented in the 18th century. The bike's ancestor, the dandy horse, had been first introduced to the public in Mannheim in 1817. The French term bicyclette had been in use since 1847. In the Anglosphere, the commonly used term was velocipede. London's Daily News first printed the word "bicycle" in 1868 but it didn't completely catch on immediately.


The New Velocipede Velocipede Jimmy Geo. Cooper & Harry Miller's The Gay Velocipede


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century it was popular to sing about new inventions (see: "The Monsters of Megaphone"). In 1868, Henry Atkins led the pack with "Velocipede Galop." In 1869, he was followed by Carl Faust's "Le Velocipede Galopp," Geo. Cooper & Harry Miller's "The Gay Velocipede," E.H. Sherwood's "The New Velocipede - Galop," S. Low Coach's (John M. Dunfield) "The Unlucky Velocipedist - Galop," Frank Howard's "The Velocipede Song and Chorus," Wm. O. Fiske, "Velocipede (March)," Cha. Koppitz's "Velocipede Galop," G. Operti's "Velocipede Galop," Henry B. Hart's "Velocipede Galop," O.H. Harpel & Henry Atkins's "Velocipede Jimmy," Leander's "Velocipede Johnny," Louis Mösser's "Velocipede March," E. Mack's "Velocipede Polka," (unknown) "Velocipede Song," Leon's "Velocipede Waltz," and (unknown) "Velocipediania."


BICYCLE SONGS AND ADVANCES OF THE 1880s

The Bicycle Glide S. Conant Doster & Harry W. Sawyer's Mister Tobias Isaias Elias. A Bicycling Song, Chas. W. Nathan's Star Bicycle Galop

No known songs about bicycles were published in the 1870s but in the 1880s the charts were stormed a mob of bike songs that reflected "bicycle" having taken over "velocipede." W. Diederich's "Bicycle Glide," S. Conant Doster & Harry W. Sawyer's "Mister Tobias Isaias Elias. A Bicycling Song," and E.C. Phelps's "The Sailing Party" were published in 1880. Chas. W. Nathan's "Star Bicycle Galop" was published in 1882. Wm. H.A. Hall's "Bicycle Galop," James C. Bekel's "La Fete des Bicycles, Fantasia Charasteristic," and John Ford's "The Star Rider" and "The Wheelmen's Song," were published in 1883. W.J. Holding's "Knights of the Wheel Schottische," A.S. Andrew & C.D. Blake's "Bicycle Polka," and Conant Foster's "Wheel Songs" were published in 1884. J.J. Sawyer's Bicycle Waltz" and Walter A. Dolane's "Wheelmen Waltzes" were published in 1885. S. White Paine's "Gem of the Track - Bicycle Club Song" was published in 1886. John Young's "Wheelmen's Waltz" was published in 1889.

Toward the end of decade there were key advances in the bicycle industry and the music industry. Edison Phonograph Company formed in 1887 and in 1888 commercially introduced wax cylinders to the music-buying public. Also in 1887, John Dunlop developed the first practical pneumatic tire for his son's tricycle, tested it, and patented his invention in 1888. 


THE GOLDEN AGE OF BICYCLES AND THE SONGS THAT FOLLOWED 

A series of advances beginning with the introduction of the pneumatic tire in 1888 ushered in the Golden Age of Bicycles, the 1890s. There were also new music formats. Piano rolls were introduced in 1896. 

  

Chas. F. Escher, Jr’s “Wheelmen's March” was published in 1890. R.S. Peniston’s “Wheeling, A Bicycle Parade” and Chas. Brighton’s “A Job Lot. Comic Song” were published in 1891. Frank R. Gillis’s “Washington Cyclist's Military March,” Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell,” and Gerald Deane’s “Queen of the Wheel” were published in 1892. Walter I. Dolbeare’s “Massachusetts Bicycle Club,” Robert S. Gebhart’s “The Dayton Bicycle Club,” T.H. Rollinson’s “The Silent Steed - Galop Brillante,” Ch. Eustace’s “Véloce-Galop,” Oscar H. Gerber’s “Mercury March,” J.W. Alexander’s “The Bicycle Waltz,” Harry Wunderlich’s “Wheelmen's March,” Lucien Durand’s “Women En Bicyclette,” and Chas. K. Harris’s “Katie Rides a Wheel” were all published in 1893. J.A. Wallace’s “The Pretty Bicycle Girl,” Alice Irene Fairlie’s “East Orange Cyclers,” Anthony Lohmann’s “League Meet March,” Arnold Somylo’s “Pretty Girls in Bloomers,” O. Schrage & W. Potstock’s “The Bloomers,” Emmet Duffy’s “Mulrooney on a Bike,” Harry Dacre’s “Dorothe!,” Mildred McNeal & Hattie Thickens’s “Let Us Ride Together,” Roland Burke Hennessy’s “Ye Merry Cycle Song,” M.H. Bryant & Amy P. Foster’s “She Rides a Bike,” and Wm. Hogan’s “The Bicycle Girl” were published in 1894. M.A. Althouse’s “Penn Wheelmen March Two Step,” John Lloyd Whitney’s “The Century Run March,” A. Robarge’s “The Pittsfield Wheelmen,” M. Florence’s “Bloomer March - Two Step,” Samuel H. Speck’s “Hannah Go Hide Your Bloomers,” George J. Becker’s “The March of the Bloomers,” J.F. Davis’s “A Corker - Bicycle Song,” Margaret Rogers Knapp’s “Cycling Song,” R.W. Young’s “The Pike Belt March and Two Step,” Theo A. Metz’s “Get Your Lamps Lit,” F.E. Hutchings’s “The New Cycle Path March and Two-Step,” Charles Smith Tarbox’s “The United States Wheel March,” Harry J. Ballou’s “Climbing on My Golden Wheel,” David Reed, Jr.’s “Ridin' on de Golden Bike,” Gussie Davis’s “Since Hannah's Done Learned to Ride a Wheel,” O.A. Hoffmann’s “Have You a Wheel,” George Evans’s “Johannah, Is Your Heart Still,” Ward Sprague’s “Sparking on a Wheel,” Melvin Ward & Herman Perlêt’s “Sweetheart I Love None but You,” M. Stuart & Percy Gaunt’s “Spin 'Round,” Jess Danzig & Frank P. Banta’s “Wheeling, Wheeling or Love A-Wheel,” W. Murdoch Lind & George Rosey’s “You Don't Have to Marry the Girl,” Fred J. Hamill’s “A Romance of A Wheel,” Ray Brian’s “Keating Wheel March,” F.R. Gadd’s “On the Wheel - Mazurka-Waltz,” C.E. Stewart (Stuart)’s “The Bicycle Craze,” Frank R. Seltzer’s “The New Columbia March,” Alexander Crerar & A.H. Houghton’s “The Wheel,” Jas. L. Post & R.W. Edwards’s “Angel Grace and the Crimson Rim,” Joseph Louis MacEvoy’s “Mary Belle,” William Mulligan & Roy L. Burtch’s “Rosie Steel,” George A. Watts’s “The Bicycle Belle March,” Nettie M. Wagner & J. Carroll Chandler’s “The Bicycle Girl,” Fraser Grant & Geo. J. Southwick’s “The Cycling Maid or The Maid's the Thing,” Frank P. Banta’s “Wheelman's Patrol,” and Harrison E. Ruhe’s “Allen Wheelmen March and Two Step” were published in 1895. W.J. McIntyre’s “Brooklyn Bicycle Club March,” Theodore E. Brun’s “Cyclopia March,” C.E. Vandersloot’s “L.A.W. Waltzes,” W.L. Metz’s “Mercury Wheelmen March,” Olaf E. Pedersen’s “Turner Wheel Club March Two-Step,” S.G. Kiesling’s “The Black Diamond,” Grace L. Catlin’s “The Cycling Club March,” L.B. Smith’s “What Will the Girls Do Next?,” Leonard B. Marshall’s “Bicycle Song,” T.W. Connor’s “At My Time O’ Life,” Mrs. Harold A. Lee’s “Bicycle Parade March – Two-Step,” Henry Vaughn & Paul Rodney’s “Cycling Song,” Brandon Thomas & Edgar Thornton’s “The Wheel Galop” and “Speed the Wheel,” Billy Vassar & Will H. Friday’s “Under the Trees On The Cycle,” Cornelius Higgins’s “M'kinley and Hobart's Bicycle,” Chas. Quinn’s “Happy Little Coons,” Bruce M. Priddy’s “Cycler’s March,” T.J. Donoghue & Geo. E. Schaller’s “Give Me the Girl That Rides the Wheel,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Little Zulu Lu, A Congo Elopement,” Frank Dun’s “Making Love on a Wheel,” E.T. Paull’s “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step,”  Adam Craig & John Quinn’s “Wheeling Together,” August Argauer’s “Wiener Volks Radfahrer,” J.M. Cody’s “Ben Hur March,” Fred W. Edgecomb’s “Frontenac Two-Step,” Tho. W. Jaquith & Otto Funk’s “He’s Got a Wheel,” Fred L. Moreland’s “The Cycle King,” Mrs. Geo. S. Hall’s “The Patee Bicycle March – (TwoStep),” Michl. F. Hayes & Mary Agnes Hayes’s “The Scorcher,” Walter B. Rogers’s “The Yellow Fever – Two-Step,” J.J. Alexander’s “Upa Tree March,” C. Ormsbee-Gregory’s “Bicycle Galop,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Julienne,” Jas. S. Burdett/Geo. W. Day & Wm. H. Nelson’s “Mary Ann O’Grady and Her Bike,” Geo. K. Barrett & John Quinn’s “My Silent Steed,” Willie Younge & Eugene Barnett’s “Rhoda Rode a Roaster,” Lena R. Hulett’s “The Bicycle Girl,” T.P. Brooke’s “The Cycle Queen – Two Step for the Piano,” Eben E. Rexford & Bertram Harriot’s “The Cycler’s Song – ‘My Wheel for a Comrade’,” John J. McIntyre & Francis M. Paine’s “When You Teach a Pretty Girl to Ride a Bike,” and F. A. Wood & Joseph Knecht’s “When You’re Riding a Bike” were published in 1896. George J. Becker’s “Chain and Sprocket Club March,” M.A. Althouse’s “Electric Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” Abe Wilsky’s “Fairhill Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” L.O. De Witt’s “The Hobo – March and Two-Step,” Theo. J. Tinnette’s “Wheelmen’s Parade March,” Ramonda A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “When the Boys and Girls go Wheeling,” Frederick J. Strachan’s “Winthrop Cycle Club – March and Two Step,” Myrtle R. Davis’s “Bicycle Race,” Eduard Holst’s “Bicycle Race Galop,” George Maywood’s “The Cyclists National Grand March and Two-Step,” F.A. Mills’s “The Pacers Two Step,” Harry B. Parker’s “White Flyer Two-Step,” W.H. Hodgins’s “Olive Waltzes,” Raymond A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “Before She Went Back Home Again,” T.W. Connor’s “I’m Going to Ride a Bicycle,” Thomas W. Russell & Roy L. Burtch’s “Mike’s Got Wheels in His Head,” Matthews and Bulger’s “Willie’s Misfit Pants,” Ludwig André’s “Vorwärts - Voran! - Bicycle-Galop,” H.H. Godfrey’s “On Wings of Steel,” G.E. Conterno’s “The Bike Intermezzo,” D.W. Reeves’s “The Cycler’s March,” F. Ibach’s “The Neverout March – Two-Step,” J.S. Duss’s “Up To Date,” Jos. B. Carey’s “Melissy,” Chas. K. Champlin’s “My Little May,” Frank Banta’s “The Chaser – Two-Step,” Frederick Solomon’s “The Kid That Knows It All,” Harry LeRoy’s “When Riding Out with Nellie On My Bike,” Glendron Mfg. Co.’s “Glendron Bicycle Two-Step,” Geo. Maywood’s “King Klondike,” Fred Neddermeyer’s “The Columbus Bicycle March,” S.B. Alexander & Summit L. Hecht’s “The Roof-Garden Cycle Party,” Geo. L. Magill’s “Windsor Wheel Waltzes,” C.G. Cotes & Felix McGlennon’s “A Nice Situation for a Girl,” J.M. Richards’s “Bicycle Episode or The Pleasures of Wheeling ,” A. Tregina’s “Camille the Queen of the Wheel,” Nellie Burt’s “Dora Brown,” W.H. Gardner & Otto Langey’s “Queen of the Bicycle Girls,” George Rosey’s “Rosey’s Scorcher,” Raymond A Brown & Charles Coleman’s “The Jolly Girl from Gay Paree,” David Reed Jr. & George Rosey’s “The Pretty Little Scorcher,” and Jos. W. Stern & Co.’s “The Scorcher (March and TwoStep)” were published in 1897. A.R. Cunha’s “Bay City March – (Two-Step),” Frederick T. Strachan’s “Berkeley Cycle Club Two-Step,” Herbert F. Estes’s “C.B.C. March,” Harry E. Jeroy’s “The A.W.C. March,” John G. Schuler’s “The Crackajack March,” J.J. Scull’s “The Lebanon Bicycle Club – March Two Step,” James E. Hough’s “Off to the Races March and TwoStep,” Ludwig Mendelssohn’s “ Radelin (Bicycling),” Albert Hall & Orlando Powell’s “Dear Old Uncle Charlie,” Carl Howard & George Everard’s “I Knew,” D. Frank Tully’s “Coasting in the Moonlight,” Paul Webster Eaton & Minnie Boyd Upperman’s “Lily Crow,” Edmund Braham’s “The Winner – Two Step or Cake Walk for Piano,” Harry F. Sanders’s “Side by Side Two Step,” Gendron Mfg. Co.’s “Lizzy Hogan on Gendron Wheel,” Harry D. Laycock’s “While Riding My Wheel,” Frank Abbott & Henry Norman’s “Mary Ellen Simpkins’ Bike,” Harry B. Marshall’s “Rosie and Mamie,” L.E. West’s “The Cyclone March and TwoStep,” Theo A. Metz’s “The Scorcher – Galop Brilliante” and Manuel Klein’s “White Heather Two-Step” were published in 1898. Anth. J. Dick’s “The Cycle Race March,” Adam Geibel’s “Bicycle Waltz,” Lydia Avery & Jessie L. Gaynor’s “My Bicycle,” Samuel Speck’s “An Easy Mark Two Step,” Wallace Moody & Lee B. Grabbe’s “The Wench That Rides a Wheel,” John P. Harrington & Orlando Powell’s “We All Went Following On,” T.H. Ervin’s “American Wheelmen's March Two-Step,” George Wm. Needham’s “Good Roads Two Step March,” Harry Clay Tacy’s “L.A.W. March and Two-Step,” F.T. McGrath’s “A Breeze from Blackville - Cake Walk and Two Step,” W. Hedemann-Gade’s “I Mot - Och Medvind,” Ellis Brooks’s “A Florida Cracker,” and Arthur J. Lamb & Geo. Schleiffarth’s “When the Band Plays in the Park” were all published in 1899 -- to name but a few.


CYCLING SONGS IN THE AUTOMOBILE AGE

After the end of the Golden Age of Bicycles, the songs about cycling slowed down. There was Harry Leighton & George’s “So I'll NeverRide Again,” (unknown) “Mexico Alegre Polka,” James F. Rider & Wilson Georges’s “My Kola Girl,” and George L. Spaulding’s “Pretty Jessie Moore – Waltz” (all 1900); James H. Austin’s “Pan-American - March and TwoStep” and Louis A. Lesure’s “The Century Annual - March TwoStep” (both 1901); Barrington L. Brannan’s “The Norsemen,” and Laurent J. Tonnele’s “Dare Devil March and Two Step” (both 1902); Eugene Ellsworth’s “Mr. Dike from Pike” (1904); Castling and Mills’s “For My Corn Began to Shoot!,” Arthur Trevelyan’s “Starring in an Aeroplane,” and John L. Golden’s “Wheels,” (all 1907);  William W. Francisco’s “Loop the Loop March” (1908);  Jack Drislane & Henry Frantzen’s “Motor King” (1910); Paul E. Glaze’s “Bob Bon Lane” and Adrian Ross & Hugo Felix’s “A Tandem” (both 1912); P. Tesio’s Lo Sport March (1913); Marcus M Blum’s “Jose March Two-Step” (1915); August J. Koehl’s “The Royal Arcanum Wheelmen March – Song & Two-Step” (1917); François Lemaitre’s “Keep Going - One-step” (1921); and Ernest Longstaffe’s “The Great White Road” (1935). One of the last songs of the pre-Rock ‘n’ Roll era, Ronals Frankau & Monte Crick’s “Remember the Cyclists” (1943) suggested that cycling was a craze from a bygone era. Indeed, the song often viewed as the first Rock 'n' Roll song, "Rocket '88'" (1951) (credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats -- who were actually Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm) was about an Oldsmobile


PSYCHEDELIC BICYCLES

However, in the peak years of psychedelia, people were again multi-modal, taking trips through their minds or into space with the aid of a variety of modes. A couple of of classic songs about bikes and inspired by LSD appeared on the scene, Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" and Pink Floyd's "Bike." Perhaps neither song directly references Hofman's ride but maybe it could be that they were tapping into what Carl Jung called the "collective unconscious." One song that does seem likely to have been inspired by Hofman's ride is Bruce Cockburn's "The Bicycle Trip" from his eponymous, 1970 debut




TOMORROW



Tomorrow formed in 1967, with roots were in two earlier bands, The In Crowd and Four Plus One. Singer/lyricist Keith West and guitarist Steve Howe had been members of both. On 21 September 1967 they recorded the first Peel Session. Their first single, "My White Bicycle" b/w "Claramount Lake" (the A-side was later covered by Nazareth and The Young Ones' Neil the Hippy), was released in 12, May 1967. According to drummer John "Twink" Alder the song was inspired by the Dutch anarchist Provos, who instigated a bicycle sharing system in The Netherlands. The Tomorrow broke up in 1968. Steve Howe went on to co-found Yes. Twink went on to join The Pretty Things, record a solo record, Think Pink, and found The Pink Fairies with Steve Peregrine Took of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Mick Farren of The Deviants, as well as Stars, The Fallen Angels, and other groups.


THE PINK FLOYD



Pink Floyd hopefully need no introduction. However; Pink Floyd was formed in 1965 Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. Their psychedelic/musique concrète song "Bike" was recorded 21 May, 1967 (about a week after the release of Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle" -- although it dated back to 1965) for their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in August. It is an absolute masterpiece, as was almost everything Barrett was involved with. Barrett and the band parted ways in April, 1968. I won't attempt to sum up the rest of Barrett's life in one sentence but the towering genius sadly passed away on 7 July, 2006, aged just 60 years old. The rest of the band made a few interesting records before getting bloated and boring and (predictably) massively popular.


POST-PSYCHEDELIC BIKE SONGS



There've been other songs about bikes: Yves Montand's "La Bicyclette," (1968), Engelbert Humperdinck's "Les bicyclettes de Belsize" (1968), Kraftwerk's "Tour de France" (1983), and Pulp's "I Spy" (1995) although they seem less obviously influenced by acid. Queen's "Bicycle Race" seems to have some other subtext entirely. Anyway, I've never taken acid myself but if you do, I suppose I'd rather you do so on whilst riding a bicycle (slowly) than, say, driving a car! Perhaps I'll take Cream Soda out of the stable, listen to some psychedelia, and look at the world with kaleidoscope eyes.

Thanks to The Wheelmen, whose research was quite helpful

*****

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1890s (11), Albert Hofmann (1), Pink Floyd (20), Tomorrow (1), Psychedelia (12), 1960s (43), Bicycles (1), Lsd (5), Bicycle Day (1), 1880s (4)