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Song: Riding to New York by Passenger

Passenger - Riding to New York

Motorcycles and music go hand in hand. Often we think of rockin’ jams from Seger or Steppenwolf, but in this song from Passenger, we’ve found a soft and somber telling of a tale where a motorcycle has a key role in experiencing life. Watch the simple, pond-side performance of “Riding to New York” and see Michael Rosenberg‘s lyrics below…then go hug someone you love.

Absorb the song in quietness and let Rosenberg’s imagery paint the picture in your mind. Or, read along to the lyrics below:

Well, I met him in Minnesota,
 He was dark and overcast.
 With long, grey hair and eyes that stared
 Through me like I was glass.
 I asked “Where are you going to?”
 He said, “I’m the wind I’m just blowing through.”
 He lit up a cigarette and began to talk.
 Said, “the doctors told me that my body won’t hold me,
 My lungs are turning black.
 Been a Lucky Strike’s fool since I was at school and there ain’t no turning back.
 They can’t tell me how long I’ve got,
 Maybe months but maybe not,
 So I’m taking this bike and riding to New York.
 ‘Cause I wanna see my grand-daughter one last time,
 Wanna hold her close and feel her tiny heartbeat next to mine.
 Wanna see my son and the man he’s become,
 Tell him I’m sorry for the things I’ve done,
 And I’d do it if I had to walk.
 Oh, I’m taking this bike and riding to New York
 Through the forests of Wisconsin that I knew as a boy,
 Past the skyline of Chicago,
 Round the lakes of Illinois.
 I lay my head in a motel bed where my back is sore and my eyes turn red,
 Listen to the trucks roll past my door.
 Through the fields of Ohio as the sunshine paints them gold.
 I run just like a river runs, rapid, quick and cold.
 And fly through Pennsylvania and the Jersey turnpike tolls.
 And I won’t stop ’till I get to New York.
 ‘Cause I wanna see my grand-son one last time.
 Wanna see his eyes sparkling and stare back into mine.
 Now my time is shorter,
 I wanna see my daughter,
 Tell her all the things I should’ve told her
 And I’d do it if I had to walk.
 Oh, I’m taking this bike and riding to New York.
 And I’d go up to the churchyard one last time,
 Lay flowers down for the woman who gave me the best years of my life,
 And I’d do it if I had to walk.
 Yeah, I’d do it if I had to walk.
 I’m taking this bike and riding to New York.”

We’ve all been wowed by musicians who are clearly ‘all in’ when performing their art. Impressed with how they emote and project their honed talents in what looks like an effortless performance. People enjoy being entertained by heroes of the charts. But with this particular song, we loved being told a story by someone who happens to be a musician. The encounter he sings about is the hero, the music merely the vehicle. Rosenberg’s ability to make the delivery beautiful and polished engages his audience and sets up a meaningful “hey, I just met an interesting guy” story with a sobering moral.

As motorcyclists, we appreciate the subject’s desire to squeeze more life out of life as time runs out. We understand what riding a motorcycle does to the psyche, whether it’s accelerating you out of a funk or distracting you from the inevitable.

Learn more about Passenger’s music here:

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