Born to be Wild: Song of the Day for July 14
The movie “Easy Rider,” released July 14, 1969, was groundbreaking in so many ways.
It was a surprise hit at a time when the counterculture was becoming not so counter.
Peter Fonda conceived the idea and co-wrote it. Dennis Hopper starred in and directed it. And the film made Jack Nicholson a star.
Easy Rider cost $375,000 to make and brought in $60 million worldwide.
The movie opened Hollywood’s eyes to independent films and opened the floodgates for young directors and film writers.
The movie also changed the way directors looked at using music. “Easy Rider” became one of the first movies to use a soundtrack — with only existing songs — to drive the storyline, according to a 2019 story in the Los Angeles Times. They were called “jukebox scores” and are still popular today.
The choice wasn’t all artistic. Fonda and the producers couldn’t afford an orchestra. They selected 10 songs from about 200.
The album soundtrack became a gigantic hit. It reached number six on Billboard’s album chart.
Our Song of the Day, “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf, is the best-known song in the movie. It’s the second song in the movie, but it wasn’t even supposed to be in the movie. It was a placeholder until Fonda realized it fit perfectly.
Steppenwolf recorded “Born to Be Wild” in 1968. Mars Bonfire wrote the song and gave it to the group. He said he got the idea when he saw a poster with the words “Born to Ride” and a motorcycle bursting out of the ground.
The song reached number two on the Billboard 100 chart. Rolling Stone rates it #129 on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.
Song of the Day is a co-production of WGCU and Sheldon Zoldan. The audio was edited by Simon Dunham.