Munich. I am realizing it is a giant village with a superb international art and music scene rather than a bustling city…and I love it. It was tough adjusting to my new home at first; still is on some days. My lowest moments find me longing for family and friends in the States until it physically hurts. Good days far outweigh the bad ones, though; otherwise I wouldn’t still be here. Changes, even those I have control over, are comprised of both loss and gain.
One of the winningest bits I have been pondering recently is my ability to cruise around this city-village on my totally awesome Hartje Salerno without being ground into a crimson stain on the road by a speeding automobile. Here’s the kicker: I can do this while listening to music. Most streets and sidewalks throughout my city-village are flanked by a glorious bicycle lane, sans autos, freeing up my senses just enough to allow me the freedom and safety to have music in my ears (at a low volume, of course). Pedestrians and motorists both yield to bicyclists. Though it was attempting to become more bicycle-friendly, you couldn’t catch me dead biking on a DC street unless it was ultra suburban. Wait, maybe you would catch me dead. Anyway.
My teenaged brain housed quite the romantic relationship between bicycles and music/music culture. It absolutely had to be born in this video. 20 years, 3 pairs of oxblood Docs and a Belle & Sebastian phase later, however, I still find an obtuse connection between the two. Long before me, my sister and my best friend were transportation (rather than sport-only) bicyclists. They still are. They’re also huge music nerds. A few Christmases ago it seemed fitting then to gift them both a copy of David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. Well intended, my besty didn’t get his until the following October. Incidentally, that window of time gave me a chance to read it myself (sorry, Ian).
Byrne is a huge supporter of transforming cities into bicycle-friendly havens and has used a bicycle as his main mode of transport for the last 25+ years. This book details his experiences all over the world as seen upon the wheels of his trusty steed(s). Of course, he writes of more than meeting musicians and going to shows. Politics, geography and history as connected to his bicycle journeys are discussed as well. That said, Byrne is a musician (not a historian or politician) so his chronicles are an integral part of my mind’s connection between music and bikes.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention hipster imagery as a sizable part of my seemingly unorthodox marriage of sound and spoke. As much as one may dislike the label (or the people), it holds on tightly to the handlebars of a fixie. Take it for face value: a largely music-minded and fashion forward culture of young people single-speeding it around city centers and spending their money on records. Am I pigeonholing? Of course I am. Does it make sense? I think so. Do I run the risk of some of my readers getting annoyed by my stereotyping? Sure. They’ll probably never forget. Like riding a bike.