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"So you wanna be a bird?" The Magic Carpet Ride, featuring Steppenwolf's Goldy McJohn, plays Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe on April 30.
When I

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God Damn the Pusher Man!

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"So you wanna be a bird?" The Magic Carpet Ride, featuring Steppenwolf's Goldy McJohn, plays Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe on April 30.
When I was thirteen years old, I got a hold of an 8-track tape of the Easy Rider motion picture soundtrack. This is the music from the legendary counterculture film starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Not that this mattered at the time I obtained the music cartridge gizmo. My brother and others around the same age thought the tune "The Pusher" from Steppenwolf was way cool. We'd crank that song up and revel in oft repeated the lyric "goddamn". We would crank it so loud I'm sure the whole block could hear! We couldn't listen to the song without cranking it up. After a while, this annoyed my father enough that he took it out of the player and crushed the cartridge with his heel. Goodbye the pusher man! (My dad was actually cool about us listening to music we wanted to hear.)

As a young adult, I took to collecting records instead of 8-tracks. At that time, this tape technology was on the way out - being supplanted by the cassette. I easily picked up a used copy of the Easy Rider soundtrack on vinyl from the bins. What really got my attention about the song was the wicked rhythm and lead guitar. The bass is way cool, too. This song is dripping with cool. I now could understand the lyrics - which are not so anti-drug as much as anti-heroin. I also realized that the "Pusher" was written by Hoyt Axton.

The band does a really trippy version on an obscure live album titled Early Steppenwolf. It starts out totally abstract - or zonked out - for like 10 minutes, until those opening chords come in and you know it's "The Pusher". If you really want to chase another version of this tune down, check out the great twist Blind Melon do to it on their record, Nico.

 
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