So do you suppose this ‘magic carpet’ might be a drug reference? No, ya think? Ya gotta love the sixties! Everything was either a drug reference or sounded like it might be, pretentious literary references were all the rage, and it looked like the counterculture just might win. The counterculture didn’t win anything, the dream fell in on itself, the survivors moved on to more cynical pastures. But we sure got some damn good music out of it. Steppenwolf didn’t hold on very long, dissipating, like many bands and marriages do, through ego clashes and incompatible interests. They did produce at least three songs that stand as indelible symbols of their time. Born to be Wild has been hard-rocked into nearly hopeless cliche oblivion, but Magic Carpet Ride still feels fresh and rebellious.
Fun Fact: although Steppenwolf’s songs are specifically iconic symbols of American sixties counterculture, lead singer and songwriter John Kay is actually German. His real name is Joachim Fritz Krauledat, and he was born in 1944 in what was then East Prussia and is now Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. He emigrated to Canada as a teenager.