Welcome to American singer/songwriter David Wilcox's blog!
David has released 16 folk albums over the course of his career. His newest CD, Reverie, will be released this fall. We hope you enjoy what you find here. davidwilcox.com
You couldn’t see the engine at all. The seat was way too comfortable. There were no hot exhaust pipes to burn your leg on. It was super quiet and it didn’t vibrate. It would run forever with no maintenance, so you didn’t even have to know how to work on it. The only person who would want a bike like that was someone who wasn’t even a biker. Like maybe if you just wanted to go down to the beach one summer day with your girlfriend and she just wanted to wear her bathing suit. Cognitive dissonance. What’s wrong with that? Well, everything’s wrong with that! It will bring down the whole industry. Motorcycles are in danger of losing their motorcycle-ness. It must be stopped. And it was. Nobody bought the pc800 and it went out of production. I have a white 1989 pc800 that I have enjoyed for twenty years, and when I rode it to the top of Mount Mitchell yesterday, people were still commenting that it looked futuristic. “Is that new?” they asked. “No,” I said, “I’ve got a lot of miles on it.”
When Nance and I go to the farmers’ market on Saturday morning, we take the old pc800 Honda. We gather four bags of fresh veggies and eggs and honey and whatever else, and we walk back over the the motorcycle. Somebody always says: “How you gonna get all that home?” And I turn the key and open the trunk. The pc800 has a big waterproof trunk that can hold four bags of groceries. The rear seat just hinges up with the top of the trunk and then folds back down again. Sounds more like a hatchback car. In fact, it has the same nitrogen filled shock absorber that lifts the lid. Motorcycling should never be this easy. I mean, there should be laws. Concerned citizens should be calling their senators. What’s at stake is the sacred covenant between man and machine. Every good biker knows that the machine makes the man. It should to be difficult to start. You have to know the trick. Its should be very loud. It should require protective clothing because of the exposed whirling belts and chains and hot metal. Primitive machinery for the primitive man. Everything about it should say: “Damn the practical and convenient! I am the brave explorer risking everything for adventure!” Which would be great if you were using the bike for adventure instead of using it to look like an adventurer. I need to revive my song about target marketing non conformers.
I’m ashamed to say that the quirky motorcycle I ride is an 800cc called a Pacific Coast or PC. As in PCH, the twisty road along the west coast. Or, as in Coasting along Peacefully. Now, I’ve had other bikes. Until I was 18 and started into guitar, motorcycles defined me. Motocross was the most exciting thing I knew about. Later, I had street bikes too. There were four in the garage at one time, and most of them I was proud to talk about. And then there was the pc. Not cool. Body by Tupperware. It is so not a motorcycle. All it does is get you where you’re going quickly and smoothly without drawing attention to itself. What good is that? Wouldn’t that ruin America? If people start accepting practical solutions to logical problems, we could lose our tribal identity. We might forget what sets us apart. And then we would be in danger of seeing what we have in common with everyone else. I know that I’m extrapolating philosophy from motorcycle design, but some people say that the way you do anything is the way you do everything. And the anger that was elicited in the biker community by the PC’s practical utilitarian design is telling. It’s as if it were the breakdown of everything. Two decades ago, the pc800 was shunned into oblivion. We knew back then that in America, motorcycles should be about where we come from, not where we are going. The classic American motorcycle is a primitive design that shakes and barks when it’s running, and leaks oil the rest of the time. Imagine the guy sitting on his bad-ass chopper just talking to his buddies. He’s been there for hours, parked outside the bar. It’s as if his bumper sticker reads: “We’re not going anywhere! We’re America!”