My Wednesday night riders have been asking for lots of different genres… most recently a 70s ride. “Disco?” I asked. “Half disco,” was the response I got. So I started working on a 70s ride. The rule: every song had to come out in the 1970s. I checked each one on Wikipedia (and in fact, gnashed my teeth over losing a bunch of great tunes that inexplicably came out in 1968 or 1969 and in 1980.)
This ride is half disco, half rock ‘n roll. Each half features 11 minutes of rolling hills, separated by 9 minutes of (mostly) flat road in between.
Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles (4:14): We’ll start by warming up in 1979. This song will forever remind me of going to the roller arena and skating in circles, hoping the crush du moment would ask you to skate while a disco ball threw sparkles all over the rink. It cost $2 (most of my allowance) to get in each week but I went anyway. Pick up the pace by 10% during each chorus.
Mamma Mia – ABBA (3:31): I’d lose all credibility if I did a disco ride without ABBA. This one’s from 1975 and it starts us off on 11 minutes of rolling hills. Come on up out of the saddle and we’ll tweak the tension up/up/up/down/down/down (basically, I coach a resistance change every 15-60 seconds, with the challenge being to ride at a steady cadence over varying resistance.) Offer the option of a seated climb at any point.
Disco Inferno – The Trampps (3:39): More rolling hills. I used this song only grudgingly, as it reminds me of one of my first indoor cycling instructors. I went to her classes for more than a year. As far as I could tell, she had three CDs and simply rotated them. There was not one new song, or new profile, the entire year. (You’d never do that, right?) This song figured prominently on one of the CDs and I heard it enough for a lifetime back then.
YMCA – The Village People (3:45): See my comments above about having my street cred revoked if I didn’t work it into a 70s ride somewhere. This 70s anthem has survived as a wedding reception perennial.
Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees (4:46): Rolling Stone tapped this 1977 hit as #191 for the Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (#1? Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan. Really?!?) It’s perfect for 8-count jumps on a hill (resistance at 8/10).. if you’re badass, take it double-time at the choruses.
Does Your Mother Know – ABBA (3:17): I’m breaking all the rules including two songs by the same group and the funny thing is, I wasn’t even a fan of ABBA back in the 70s. (I was more into Billy Joel, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.) This one’s a fast, seated flat. It will feel really good after all that climbing.
We Will Rock You – Queen (2:02): We transition from disco to rock with another anthem. This is the seated climb in the middle, to Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals.
Crocodile Rock – Elton John (3:55): Back to 1973 for this cheerful ditty that featured in a wedding dance scene in one of my all-time favourite movies, Four Weddings and A Funeral. This is the other half of the seated flat that we started with ABBA.
Back in the USSR – The Beatles (2:42): This 1976 UK single starts off the second 11 minute segment of rolling hills. Once again, remind riders that they can choose a seated climb at any point.
You Really Got Me – Van Halen (2:39): Yes, yes, I know the Kinks did it first (1964) but that’s no good to me in a 70s ride, so I used the Van Halen version from 1978.
It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll) – AC/DC (5:02): Okay, the metal head in me loves that I worked some AC/DC into this ride. Bonus points for the title. This tune came out in 1975, only a couple of years after AC/DC formed. If you’re climbing and minding your own business and you think, “are those BAGPIPES?” yes, yes they are. According to Wikipedia, the band’s producer encouraged lead singer Bon Scott to take up the pipes for this song even though he’d never played a note on them. Scott used the pipes during live shows until the following year when he set them down too close to the edge of the stage and they were destroyed by fans. The band went with a tape recording after that.
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 – Pink Floyd (3:59): We leave the 11 minutes of hills behind and move into some more jumps on a hill, back up to 8/10 and 8 counts again for this anthem for disaffected youth.
Gallows Pole – Led Zeppelin (4:56): This one was for Ray, one of my regular riders. It offers 60 seconds of recovery, followed by an out of the saddle climb from 0:60 – 4:40 (or you could do a combo climb/surge, switching up every 45 or 60 seconds. He was beaming when we finished and I think he won some folks over as Led Zep fans.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band (3:44): Shamelessly cribbed this sprint-to-the-finish from a former colleague, Fabia, for whom it was a signature tune. Four seated sprints of 20/35/30/30 seconds at 0:56 – 1:17, 1:32 – 2:06, 2:18 – 2:46 and 3:07 – 3:40. Year? 1979. (Whew, that was close.)
Dust in the Wind – Kansas (3:26): This cool down song evokes powerful memories of my early years as a DJ for my high school radio station. The station didn’t have a lot of money (okay, any money) so we had to spin the same 20 albums over… and over… and over. I played Dust in the Wind dozens, maybe hundreds of times but it’s just as haunting a reminder of our mortality as it ever was.
I’m a Believer – Neil Diamond (2:43): Taking it back to 1971 for the stretching and goodbye music. I didn’t appreciate Diamond’s genius as a songwriter until I heard other people covering his songs, which are enormously popular even now in the bars of my home town. This one has a special place in my heart because I was a giant Monkees fan in the 70s and while Diamond did well with this song, The Monkees knocked it out of the park. It was the #1 hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling record of 1967, one of fewer than 40 singles to have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
I had fun with this ride and it was great to hear the biggest hits of the decade in one place. Honestly, has any decade since produced songs with this kind of longevity?
I didn’t quite manage a song from each year – you’ll notice 1972 and 1974 are missing. Why’d I put disco first? My first draft had the rock first but I really wanted to finish up with The Devil Went Down to Georgia and I didn’t want to mix up disco and rock (though a disco v. rock ride would be fun, too). My next mission? Another regular rider asked me for 90s boy bands. (I don’t know if my male regulars would tolerate an entire class of 90s boy bands. I have no idea what I’d have to do to make amends for that.) I trolled through iTunes for an hour last week and while there are tons of hits from these bands, few of them work for cycling. Just gonna have to keep looking. Got any ideas?
Great playlist. Always love your music. But I’m pretty sure the Beatles broke up in 1970 and Back in the USSR was from around 1968.
Thanks Brian! Folks, I stand corrected: Brian is absolutely right. Paul McCartney filed for dissolution of the Beatles partnership in December 1970. Back in the USSR was originally released in 1968 and re-released as a single in 1976. You can read the history of The Beatles on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles and the entry on Back in the USSR here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_in_the_ussr .
Funny, I’ve been talking with my fellow professors about how we Gen X teachers have to update our pop culture references because the current crop of 20-something students don’t know Monty Python, The Brady Bunch, or even The Simpsons (“I wasn’t allowed to watch it,” one explained to me later). And then I go and fall into the same hole with Back in the USSR.
I love cycling. I can not ride a bike for several hours, because my health is not good. Your info is very helpful for me. Thank!
I have been visiting your blog for a solid year and am regularly energized by your playlists. This last one had all of my cyclists smiling from ear to ear and for many it was there favorite ride so far that I have taught. I appreciate your profiles and am glad to have stumbled upon your site.
Hey Erin, I have been getting great feedback about this ride, too. It’s funny – I am self-conscious about veering away from the latest music for fear that riders might think I’m out of touch, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Folks like hearing new music in my classes but I get positive feedback from other rides as well – especially hard rock, 70s and 90s.
Thank you so much for your playlists and notes. I teach at a hospital owned wellness center in North Carolina and I think they are gong to love this list. I might in a little blondie, one way or another, too!
I definitely approve of adding some Blondie – One Way or Another or Call Me would be great cycling tunes.
i had a request for a Nkotb class.. I had to go onto soundcloud and youtube to find some remixes and also increased the bpm’s in order to get the right tempo for some songs. A little more work but it was fun. The men in my class didnt seem to mind but they didn’t really remember the songs either. There are a lot of hip hop boy bands from the 90’s that were fun too! Remixes are always great. Also a fun class is one hit wonders :)
Thanks Jessica. Do you have a One Hit Wonder playlist you could contribute? (My rider who asked for boy bands is on mat leave, so I am waiting until she comes back – when she does I am going to surprise her).
Hi there Cynthia! I just found your blog and I’m really liking it. Most of the time, I’m too lazy to find good songs or make my own playlist. Thanks for all your great posts. If you have time, can you shoot me an email? :) I’d like to be a resource for you.
Thanks Ryan. So far, I don’t have commercial relationships or link to commercial sites, but I see you’ve posted a link to your site in your comment and I am happy to let readers explore it.
I did this 70’s ride this morning I did change a couple of songs they just aren’t me but I tell you what it was a blast…. My class loved it !!!!
Thanks Stacy. Which songs did you sub in? (I often get more mileage from playlists by subbing out two to four songs – freshens them up).
This looks really fun Cynthia! (Although my Beatles fan hubby takes exception to including Back in the USSR.) I’ll load it onto Spotify and try it out when I return from vacation. I always wish I had a disco ball to hang when I do rides like this :-).
I have a disco ball from the dollar store – I think I will look around to see where I might hang it next time. BTW, I totally blew Back in the USSR – released 1968 (re-released 1976, post-breakup) – didn’t read the Wikipedia entry closely enough.
Thanks for another great post Cynthia. Just STARRED The DWDTG on Spotify…looking forward to the sprint track!
Have a great weekend.
(About the 90’s…I did a 90 minute ride with all 90’s tracks earlier this year, but not one boy band track: http://stevespinlist.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/readytogo/)
What an iconic playlist, Steve! Thanks for sharing it. That was the music of my university days and early career. I love that you used Two Princes, which was on heavy rotation for me when it was new. And Blue is still making the rounds as a dance tune. I’d been thinking about using Two Princes in class but couldn’t figure out exactly how. Also love that (1) you get to do 90 minute classes – the longest classes at my gym were 75 min and they dropped them, so the max is now 55 min; and (2) you bring out 20 riders at 5:15 a.m. Yes!