Friday, September 21, 2007

Squeeze Machine Secrets: 'Tandem Bike'

Inspiration for a tune can come out of nowhere, or right at you on a bike path. We had a day off in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and I was sitting at my laptop in my hotel room when I noticed Carri walking briskly across the parking lot. I thought for sure she must be headed to a store and decided to seize the moment and put in an order for a sandwich and a candy bar.

I slid open my window and asked her where she was going and she completely confounded me by replying that she was off to rent a bike. Then she asked me (demanded, actually) if I wanted to come along, claiming that as a band leader, I need to keep in shape, blah blah blah. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but before I knew it, I was pedaling down a bike path about 50 yards behind Carri, breathing dust and wondering how I could have let this happen.

The Stevens Point bike path is a loop, but at times it uses city streets, and somehow we managed to get lost. We stopped to check the map the bike-rental shop had given us, but we couldn't make any sense out of it. That's when an older couple came gliding serenely toward us on a tandem bike.

Now, I had always thought that a tandem bike is a sure recipe for divorce, but these folks looked like they were having a wonderful time. I waved them down and asked them for directions, and they came to a graceful, synchronous stop in front of us. The gentleman in front gave me directions and we exchanged a few pleasantries; then he proceeded to remount and pedal off.

Unfortunately, Carri was still engaged in deep conversation with his wife as the bike began to move away. The poor woman did her best to make a quick seating and get in step, but alas, they only made it about 5 feet before slowly careening down to the ground. I was truly shocked and fearful that they might be hurt, but they waved us off and said they were fine. The gentleman then mentioned that it was the first time they had gone down in 30 years. Carri and I both felt a little guilty about helping to break this streak, and we offered our most heartfelt apologies.

Well, sort of.

I must admit that as soon as I saw they were OK, my mind was headed on its own little tandem-bike adventure. "Tandem bike" -- it just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? How could you not write a song about this? I tried not to for about 10 minutes. This happens sometimes. You know you're going to write a song about something, but you are feeling lazy and try to put it off for as long as possible. But then the lines start coming, and as soon as I start to chuckle, I know I have to do it.

As we continued our ride I would occasionally catch up with Carri and sing a few lines. She got in the spirit and threw out a few of her own, and by the time we made it back to the rental shop, this little ditty was complete. I especially like the ending, which -- oddly enough -- came first!

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