185. Ode to A Tandem Bicycle

DAY ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE

This is Karen Poleshuck and her dad. This is the freakin' awesomest picture. Is this 1984? Or Williamsburgh 2010?

Today, Karen Poleshuck, the co-writer of this song, has written about this song (see below!). I met Karen at SUNY Purchase a few years ago, and since then I’ve seen her go through roommates, occupations, hamsters, and finally settling on a really cute dog.

Karen is the Executive Director of Academic Music Seminars, and they are holding several Saturday brunch-time benefit concerts in July.  I will be performing on July 31st in support of this great non-profit.  About AMS:

Founded in 2008 by musician and educator Karen Poleshuck, we are passionately committed to the belief that music can be a transformative power in children’s lives, both in improving their education and test scores, and in helping them gain a greater appreciation of artistry and creative expression.  It is our goal to offer expanded educational opportunities that does both of these things to schools throughout Northern Manhattan.

At the show on July 31st, I will be playing a bunch of my songs, but also playing this song that Karen and I wrote.  There will be kids there and homemade maracas (that the kids will make themselves), so Karen and I wanted to write a song that would encompass an important educational tool: literacy.  We decided to compose an ode.  (Karen will talk a little bit more about why we chose a tandem bicycle).

Here we go!
But you know what this song needs?   A little celloness… oh, and a full brass band, but you get the idea…

Ode to a Tandem Bicycle


I ride my bike around the town
I ride my bike without a frown
I ride my bike all day you see
Except the days when you’re with me
We ride our
Tandem bike!
Just the two of us
Tandem bike!
We don’t take the bus
It’s a treat, you’ll see
Cause when we ride our bike
It’s just you and me
The wind in our face
We leave the world behind
I’ll pedal fast
You pedal fast
We pedal fast
With one bike for two
One direction we must choose
I’ll pedal fast
You pedal fast
We pedal fast
I’ll pedal fast
You pedal fast
We pedal fast
I’ll pedal fast
You pedal fast
We pedal fast on our…
Tandem bike!
Just the two of us
Tandem bike!
We don’t take the bus
It’s a treat, you’ll see
Cause when we ride our bike
It’s just you and me

A Note from Karen

It looks like I’m about 4 or 5 in this picture, so it was probably closer to 1987-88. Although, I suppose it’s cool that this is your 184th song, so feel free to leave it up as is 🙂

I know that I’m not alone when I say that I fell in love with Emily Hope Price the very moment I first heard her play. I’m honored to share today’s entry with her and I hope that you continue to follow her on this incredible journey she’s taking. Emily and I became close friends right around the time she started doing her first open mic shows in NYC and I was first conceptualizing Academic Music Seminars. We both have come very far with these endeavors in the last few years and I know that for me at least, it is in large part due to her incredible friendship and endless support. When she first told me of her plans for this blog I was thrilled about the possible collaboration opportunities to come because of the seamless connections to be made with Academic Music Seminars. To me, my favorite part of this blog is not just hearing her fantastic music (I get to see her live all the time), it’s the way she gives us a peek into her process. Why did she choose a particular word or how did she come up with a concept for a song? Everything is laid out for you to read.

Today we discussed many options for a song. The main goal was to have it coincide with the AMS curriculum for somewhat of a shameless plug. The mission of Academic Music Seminars is to provide a high quality interdisciplinary music education program that builds literacy, math, science and history skills through the exploration of art, movement and music to the underserved public elementary school students of Northern Manhattan. One idea we played with was to talk about recycling and how it’s a useful tool in music as well. How many awesome covers have we heard Emily do over the year? It’s important to me that the connections are organic, and we just weren’t in the mood for it, so we moved to literacy pretty quickly. This is a very compressed version of a few lessons we would do in a classroom in which we would talk about what an Ode is, play our version, and have the kids write their own as well.

What is an Ode? According to Wikipedia, an ode is typically a lyrical verse written in praise of, or dedicated to someone or something which captures the poet’s interest or serves as an inspiration for the ode.

One of the most famous Odes is Ode to Joy, made famous by Ludwig van Beethoven. The melody is taught to beginners on almost every instrument, but it is rare that they are told what the melody is about. Ode To Joy (German: An die Freude) is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, celebrating the ideal of unity and brotherhood of all mankind. (Translation of the full poem here: http://www.raptusassociation.org/ode1785.html). It is best known for its musical setting by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony (completed in 1824), a choral symphony for orchestra, four solo voices, and choir. The Beethoven setting is the official anthem of the European Union.

(Great clip that came up when I searched for Ode to Joy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpcUxwpOQ_A

What do you think is worthy of an ode? We played with a few ideas, but we both felt that we needed to be equally in love with it if we were to write the song together. Our cellos were the first obvious choice, but I think we thought it would be a little too easy (and cheesy?). We both love our dogs, and swimming. We thought money was worthy of an ode, but didn’t want to get depressed with our lack of it. I don’t remember who first came up with biking, but it was the first thing that came up that we both love and were excited to write a song about. The bike didn’t become a tandem until after Emily sang through the whole intro, and I told her it was how I first learned how to ride a bike, as you can see in the picture above. We talked about why we love biking. Emily loves the speed, I love the feel of the wind in my face, we both love the escape of it. We really wanted to work into the song something silly about how we had to agree on where to go. I’m really happy with what we came up with, and I’m excited to play with the instrumentation for the upcoming concert.

Speaking of this upcoming concert, if you love Emily Hope Price, her show on July 31st at 11am at the Jumel Mansion is going to be a fantastic place to see her play outside of a bar setting. Like she said there will be activities for kids, but it will also be a fantastic time for adults as well. She’ll be playing some songs that we know well and a few songs from her 365 Project.  Bring a picnic blanket, food, drinks, dogs are welcome on leashes too! Check out our event page to see more details and find out about the two previous concerts at the same venue. Thanks for listening!

5 thoughts on “185. Ode to A Tandem Bicycle

  1. It was 100 times better live. I say that completely without emotion.

    With emotion, my tears are flowing with love and gratitude and respect for my daughter’s friend and her art.

    Thank you again.

    Karen’s dad

  2. I don’t know how to describe my reaction. I know I will not do it well.

    I have a tremendoous outpouring of love and pride for both my daughter and for you Emily, deep personal pride and great love of the music. And of course, love of the bicycle.

    Thanks,
    Dad

  3. Girl you can always make me smile! I love this song – I am a sucker for any song that gives tribute to my two wheeled friend.

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