BORN TO BE WILD | #AtoZCHALLENGE (B) #MusicalMemories

114 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2017, #MusicalMemories, Memoir, Music, Writing/Blogging
Musical Memories #AtoZChallenge 2017
Welcome everyone, to the #AtoZChallenge Blogging Extravaganza, where hundreds of bloggers publish 26 posts in 30 days, one for each letter of the alphabet, covering a myriad of topics! “Musical Memories” is my theme. Click HERE to see all posts and HERE to view the A to Z Blog. Please support our efforts by visiting, sharing and commenting. We have all worked long and hard on this project. Have fun and thanks for reading!
BORN TO BE WILD | #AtoZChallenge
Day 2, April 3

The time: early August 1969
The place: Bochum, Germany

BORN TO BE WILD | #AtoZChallenge

We had been living in Germany since 1965 (more details HERE) when my father (Canadian Army) received orders for a new posting back to Canada. After giving up our apartment, we moved in with my German mother’s parents until it was time to leave on August 15th (the weekend of the Woodstock Music Festival).


I had first heard “Born to be Wild” the previous fall, while away at school in Switzerland (Sept. ’68 – Jun. ’69). The sense of freedom it conveyed, combined with John Kay’s (Steppenwolf frontman) fabulous rock growl left a huge impression on me. My musical tastes were evolving from “teenybopper” pop music to harder edged stuff. Influences included The Rolling Stones, the “Summer of Love” (1967: ♫”If you’re going to San Francisco, wear some flowers in your hair.” ♫, The Monterey Music Festival, featuring Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) and now, Steppenwolf. During a spring school trip, my friends and I met an international group of bikers. That heady experience has stayed with me all these years.

Excerpt from “Confessions of a Boarding School Inmate.”
[a memoir stuck in re-write limbo]

BORN TO BE WILD | #AtoZChallenge, Motorcycle gangSwitzerland is a beautiful country and we had some pleasurable outings that spring. One of them included meeting a motorcycle gang. This was so exciting to a bunch of teenagers! Fortunately, not “Hell’s Angels” types, although they certainly looked the part, in denim and leather. We had just finished lunch and they were outside the café. One of them asked Fraulein Karin (our chaperone) where we were from and that got the conversation rolling. These were young to middle-aged men, from all over Europe, not just Switzerland. I remember flirting with a good-looking Brit named Will, who also spoke Italian and German. He even offered me a ride on his bike! That got vetoed, much to my disappointment. To this day, I’ve never been on a motorcycle. The desire to try it has passed, but I’m still in love with the idea of the open road.

The movie “Easy Rider” had debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May and went on to become the third-highest-grossing film that year. According to Wikipedia, it was added to the United States National Film Registry in 1998, having been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I was eager to see it, but the release date for Germany was still months away. As luck would have it, my aunt knew someone who was arranging a private showing downtown and managed to snag a couple of tickets. This movie had everything; humour, whimsey, pathos and best of all, a killer soundtrack!

“Heavy Metal Thunder”

The German-dubbed dialogue was a bit unnatural and even funny in places (I’m bilingual). Happily, I was able to see the movie again in English after we moved. Years later, I purchased the DVD and watch it occasionally, transporting myself back to the summer of ’69. (That’s a whole other song, though.)


More boarding school adventures on April 1st, 10th, 19th, 24th and 27th
Click HERE for sequential time line.

Where were you in 1969?
Have you seen “Easy Rider”? Did you like it?

Looking forward to your comments!

The Doglady’s Den #AtoZChallenge 2017 Youtube playlist:
(updated daily)

Linking to:
Blogging from A to Z / Blog Chatter / It’s All a Matter of Perspective


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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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114 thoughts on “BORN TO BE WILD | #AtoZCHALLENGE (B) #MusicalMemories

  1. Omg, friend D … so enjoyed that video … had all but 4gotten about easy rider … smiles and tears … Love, cat.

  2. Hi Deb,
    Wow, I didn’t realize you lived there back in 69. I was only 4. But I do love riding on the back of a motorcycle, I hope you get to experience that someday. It is fun 🙂
    I tried last summer to learn to ride one myself but was too nervous. I may try again….

    1. Hi Lisa; Thanks for visiting! 🙂 I wanted to ride a motorcycle for so many years, but now, I’d rather be in a comfortable car. Sounds like you enjoyed the experience, though.

  3. Ah ha, I’ve done something you haven’t! 🙂
    I loved motorcycles and my first boyfriend had one! I even learned to drive one. Cars and motorcycles were an early favorite. We hung out at the race track, drag racing! Love speed!
    And yes, 3 days in and I’m already behind! 🙂

    1. You’ve also lived in Alaska, so that’s at least two things, Yolanda. 🙂 I’m a speed demon too, but I prefer to be enclosed. You’re behind? I’m still answering ‘B’ comments and my ‘D’ post just went live! 😮 Feel better now? 😉

  4. Cool! Let’s see…in 1969 we were living in a part of Arizona so far out in the sticks it was still in the ’30s. As a result, I missed the 60s entirely, and the 70s came as a real shock when we moved in 1970 to a rather hippy-ish island near Seattle…

      1. You only need to add the Twitter handle once. WordPress and Blogger are quite different platforms, but we can figure it out. 🙂

  5. Loving your trip through history and I’m sorry you missed riding on that bike. I bet you would still love it. I love this song so much but guess what? I still have not seen this movie. I was 5 years old, living in the country on a sawmill:)

    1. I was really upset at the time, Birgit, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t be so great, now. I like to be comfortable in my old age. 🙂 The movie is probably not as meaningful to someone who didn’t experience the flavour of the times. Five is a bit young.

  6. In 1969, I was in high school in the Bronx, listening to Steppenwolf. I even was reading books by Hermann Hesse. No Easy Rider, though. I have never read it. I wasn’t born to be wild, either.

    1. Not only do we have similar names, I do believe we might be kindred spirits! 😀 John Kay is a remarkable man and underrated as a musician.

  7. I love your theme for the A to Z! Your memoire sounds interesting. I can’t believe how much detail you recall about the first time you heard a song! (I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday….) My theme this year is how mental health influences writing and creativity.

  8. This song never fails to spice up my mood! Can’t recall whether I’ve seen the movie (ruh roh), but did they tear out of Stonehenge in the beginning of the video? Good memories sprout with wearing flowers in your hair!

  9. There is recall, and there are things that seemingly never leave our day to day thought process.
    I get the feeling, reading this, that the times you speak of became part of the fabric of you.

  10. Great songs! My husband and I graduated high school in 1969, both had jobs right out of high school. He retired last year from that job. I retired after working at 8 different jobs at 3 different places. I’ve watched Easy Rider many times, love it!

  11. I’ve seen that movie and I do love it and all of the music to go along with it! 1969 we were back in the states. 🙂 (Army brat) – Hhhmm. You seem to have a thing for brits.. Lol..

    1. We army brats are a resilient lot, aren’t we, moving from place to place. 🙂 Yeah, two Brits in a row, yet, I married an Italian. He has a sexy accent, too. 🙂

  12. Born to be Wild is hands down my song. The thrill of adrenaline you feel when you listen. I have used it on a workout mix to speed me up on the treadmill. Good memories.

    1. It’s a great song, isn’t it? 😀 Your comment about the treadmill reminded me of this hilarious parody: (Kind of apropos for our age group. LOL)

  13. Some great memories here. Easy Rider sounds like it fit perfectly with your teen dreams.
    I loved the music when I got a little older.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Loving the “bat beat” of the Ancholi A Piece of Uganda

  14. When I was in 1st grade at St Louis Besancon Catholic school, the Nuns had a conference one afternoon and let the 8th graders “watch us”. They played the Born To Be Wild lp- including The Pusher. Prolly not what the nuns were hoping for…

  15. I was only 4yrs old in 1969, but I can still remember what I was doing then. We moved as well, although we were only moving from one small town to another in Idaho. I remember vividly arriving with my cousins and aunt and uncle at the new home and seeing my room for the first time. Mom had taken the time to put the room together before us younger kids showed up. It was a bit of a let down that I had to share the room with my sister, but I’ll never forget that tiny rocking chair that was ‘just my size’.
    Born to Be Wild brings back a lot of memories for me as well. Mostly related to one particular guy. Almost married that one, but he wasn’t ready to settle down yet, so I had to cut him loose. But we sure did have some good times before we called it quits.

  16. What a wonderful sstory, lovely to read. I do remember “Born To Be Wild”, in 1969 I was recovering from giving birth to my second son in late 68.
    Look forward to you “C” word.

  17. Oh Debbie, I simply LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your post!!!! Born to be Wild is the DH and mine all time favourite. I remember it used to be his phone ringtone when we got married. Though I wasn’t born in 1969, I feel this one’s a part of me. Thanks for sharing the Bryan Adams version. Never knew there was one. Though I love the original one any day better.
    Loved reading your blast with the blast. Coming back for more tomorrow. Cheers!


    Travel Epiphanies:
    Boisterous Fruit Bats

  18. What a wonderful story Debbie. In 1969 my youngest son was a year old. He was diagnosed with Epilepsy, which left him when he was 13. I was then diagnosed with it. I well remember the song. Look forward to letter “C”

    1. Not such a great memory fo you, Yvonne. I hope you were able to recover from the epilepsy as well. Thanks for dropping in. 🙂

  19. DEBBIE ~
    Unlike you, I am not particularly a Steppenwolf fan, but I do like ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, and I have always LOVED ‘BORN TO BE WILD’. That’s one of only a relatively small handful of Hard Rock songs from my youth that still greatly appeals to me.

    I’m not in a position to confirm this as necessarily factual (although perhaps it is), but I read many years ago that the lyric “heavy metal thunder” was actually the origin for the term “Heavy Metal” for that genre of music: fast, loud Rock with a heavy emphasis on electric guitar riffing.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Check out my new blog @
    (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews…

    1. ‘Born to be Wild’ is an anthem for us rebellious types who love the open road. 🙂 I think its appeal will go on for generations. You’re right; the song has been attributed as the first reference to ‘heavy metal’; one of my favourite genres. Thanks for dropping by, Stephen. Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. This challenge is killing me, already! 😮

  20. Hi Debbie,
    Welcome back to blogging! I loved your blast from the past. Exciting times! And the music was awesome.

    1. Hi Lauren; I’m glad you enjoy the series. 🙂 This is a tough challenge, though, posting every day. Sorry for the late response.

  21. I wasn’t around in 1969 quiet yet, but I do know the song. My favorite memory of it, isn’t the song so much as a very colorful character who haunted the local bar scene in the early 2000s. He would show up halfway through the night, yelling “Born to be Wild, baby” to anyone who would listen. I do wonder whatever happened to that guy.

    1. Funny story! I guess he went off into the wild. 😀 “Born to be Wild’ is not only a great movie, it’s a cultural catchphrase.

  22. Born to be wild makes me want to groove! I love this song but have’nt watched the movie. Thanks for sharing the video. 🙂

  23. Love your space! I love dogs and have watched Easy Rider and I agree! Plus you have it all. This is such an interesting theme for the challenge, and am looking forward to other posts down this month! 🙂

  24. Love this. In 1969, I had a chance to go to Woodstock–it was only a couple of hours away by car, but at the last minute, I chickened out. I did get to see Steppenwolf in concert a few years later. That son’s going to stay with me all day.

    1. So close and yet so far! I talk about Woodstock in the upcoming ‘L’ post. We were moving from Germany to Canada that very weekend, but my head was at Max Yasgur’s farm. John Kay is a fabulous entertainer, isn’t he? Still going strong all these years later, too. Do you ever regret not going to Woodstock?

  25. I was only a year old in 1969, but I know the song, and like it. I’ve seen Easy Rider. What’s not to like. Rightly called a classic. My A – Z theme is musical as well. I include some anecdotes of my journey from pop to the heavy side. I’m a metal head.

    1. Welcome to a fellow music lover! 🙂 I’ll be sure to check out your theme. You’re right! What’s not to like about Easy Rider? Thanks for dropping in.

  26. I returned home from two months in Europe on July 4. There was a letter waiting with a job offer. By August I was working for the City of Detroit. I have never seen Easy Rider and that music genre is not in my wheelhouse.

    1. Sounds like that was a great year for you, Denise. 🙂 I guess most of these songs aren’t in your ‘wheelhouse’, but I hope you’re enjoying the memoirs, anyway. Thanks for visiting!

  27. Debbie, What was wrong with Fraulein Karin? Was she not ever young? Maybe, that’s the problem, she was young once and knew the kind of troubles waiting for a young girl with an invitation to take a spin on a motorcycle. DH had a small motorcycle growing up but by the time we started dating he didn’t have it. However, I do recall one time his older brother let him borrow his bike to take me for a ride and honestly I didn’t care for it. This is coming from someone who also doesn’t like driving in a convertible top car, either. Yeah, I’m special like that. You gotta know me to love me, I reckon. 🙂 “Born To Be Wild” is a great classic rock tune and you don’t necessarily have to be a heavy metal fan to enjoy it. I haven’t seen the movie “Easy Rider”. BTW, is that Jack Nicholson riding with Peter? In 1969, I was 8-years old living in rural southern West Virginia no doubt playing with Barbies and had no notions of motorcycles or boys for that matter. Your memoirs through mewsic is a great series! Thanks for sharing these glimpses into your past and I invite your readers to stop by for more Art Sketching Through the Alphabet for today’s featured letter “B” (boys) and a side of Mewsic with Curious as a Cathy!

    1. Actually, Fraulein Karin was the youngest housemother; late 20s, I believe. This school had strict standards, though, and she likely would have been fired if something bad happened on her watch. I wouldn’t like the wind in hair thing now either but at the time…Good eye! That is indeed a young Jack Nicholson. ‘Easy Rider’ was his first big acting break. I’m glad you’re enjoying the series. Thanks for your support. 🙂 Your sketches are very good!

  28. Another wonderful edition of Musical Memories. I remember listening to Born to be Wild without really knowing what the lyrics meant. The summer of 69 was particularly traumatic for me because I learnt how to swim that year…… activity I still dread

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 That’s the greatest part of the A to Z Challenge, isn’t it? Meeting different people from all over the world? I’ve been learning a lot about India, Bahrain, Thailand, Australia, etc. Travelling without leaving my chair!

  29. I am loving these tidbits about your younger self. I love bike rides. Fell down once trying to learn 😀 but at least I enjoy sitting on the pillion.

  30. In 1969, my mum was 9 years old 😛 So she was probably climbing trees somewhere in her backyard…. i have not heard the song before neither seen the movie… for someone who has grown up on a diet of bollywood music, this is so different from my taste…

    1. That’s five years younger than I was. 😮 I’m too old for this crowd! LOL Yes, this is much different from Bollywood music.

  31. I was not born in 1969. Havent seen the movie though have heard the song. My colleague is an adventure freak and he believes that this song is his anthem. So one can listen to this song in his car every now and then.

    1. It seems I’m older than most people here. 😛 ‘Born to Be Wild’ is a perennial rock classic. I’m thrilled to know it has lived on beyond its original time.

  32. Hollywood/English films only entered my life after 72 I think, my first film must have been around 1969, and that was a children’s film in Bengali, my mother tongue. Have heard about Easy Rider, but haven’t watched it. Would it be any good on a TV screen I wonder? Prefer the big screen, especially for films shot in open spaces, can’t get that same sense of vastness sitting in the home theatre however sophisticated, and the popcorn tastes different too somehow 🙂

    1. Easy Rider enjoyed worldwide popularity in its day. 🙂 I agree, a home screen can’t match a movie theatre one, but at least today’s TV’s are much better than the previous style.

  33. Nope, haven’t seen it, but I have heard the song and I like it.
    Been on motorbikes several times, although not at those reckless speeds portrayed in English movies.

    1. It must be fun to ride a motorcycle! 🙂 As a car driver, they can be annoying though, the way they dart in and out of traffic. Thanks for dropping in.

  34. In 1969 I had yet to be born by three years and I’m afraid I have not seen Easy Rider, however, I do know the song. I’m not sure when I first heard it. Such an iconic sound. This is where I show my true ingnorance and have to admit I did not know the song came from the film.
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Shapeshifters and Werewolves

    1. Actually, the song came before the film. 🙂 It was already a hit in 1968. It seems that most people here are a lot younger than me. LOL

  35. That song had a big influence on me. I was thinking just yesterday about pulling my copy of Easy Rider off the DVD shelf and watching it. Too much stuff to watch. I’d rather be watching the scenery go past we while I was on a road trip.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  36. I haven’t seen the movie but have heard the song. As for motorbikes, I’ve been on plenty and even belonged to a biker group. My favorite memories are of making off with (not making out) one of our gang’s bikes. The guy was so possessive of his bike it would get on my nerves and one day, during the time he was recouping from a broken leg, I stole his keys and enjoyed a fabulous ride late at night. Funnily enough, later, I was just as possessive about my own two-wheeler and never allowed anyone to ride it, except, most reluctantly, the service mechanic, much to his amusement.

    Sub-titles are invariably funny when you know the language. Hugs, Debbie! Enjoying yourseries.

    1. I can just picture you flying down the road on your motorbike, Vidya! 😀 There were no subtitles in the German version of the movie. The dialogue was recorded by German actors and dubbed in. The mouth movements didn’t match the words and some of the phrasing was amusingly awkward. Hugs to you too! I’m glad you like the series.

  37. Love this song – but LOVE Bryan Adams and Summer of ’69 even more so. I think Bryan Adams would be in my top 10 all time male singers (there’s just something about his voice!)

        1. I see. Thanks for the info, Debbie. I was just wondering if maybe its his version I got to hear as in 1969, I wasn’t even yet a spec in my parents’ imagination as they hadn’t married yet (probably hadn’t even met yet).

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