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On A Cloud of Sound

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Steppenwolf 'The Second' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

Steppenwolf‘s second album came out in October 1968 and the band decided to release as the lead single from the album the infectious and instantly recognisable, ‘Magic Carpet Ride. It was written by John Kay and Rushton Moreve from the band and it made the US chart on 5 October, later peaking at No. 3 in the US, and staying in the charts for 16 weeks, longer than any other Steppenwolf song. Its popularity was also helped when it was used in the film, Easy Rider.

The single differs noticeably from the album version with a different vocal take by John Kay for the first verse of the song and a slightly different instrumental mix throughout. The single version is also much shorter than the album version, with a running time of 2 minutes and 55 seconds, perfect for All-Hit radio in America, whereas the album version is 4 minutes and 25 seconds long.

The lyric, “I like to dream, right between my sound machine” was written by Kay and he was inspired by a new hi-fi stereo system that he bought with royalties from the band’s first album. In 1988, the band re-recorded the song with Grandmaster Flash and it appeared on Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s reunion album, On the Strength.

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then

There’s also another lyrical inspiration. In the same way that Steppenwolf’s, ‘Born To Be Wild’ spooned the term, “Heavy Metal Thunder”, ‘Magic Carpet ride’ may also have played a part in a more recent technological innovation. The second line of the song, following on from, “I like to dream, right between my sound machine” is, “On a cloud of sound I drift into the night.” Could this have played a part in inspiring the people that developed, ‘SoundCloud’? Draw your own conclusions…

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  1. Steve Carter

    October 31, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I had the privilege of seeing there concert in 1982 in Colorado Springs, Co. it was AWESOME and AMAZING Great show.

    • Nigel in Canada

      April 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      Yes ! I too, had the priviledge to see
      John Kay and His band perform at Arizona Bikeweek!! what am excellent performance!! nothing like LIVE !!

  2. neil wilson

    December 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    still a great band, better than the stones, as good as deep purple cheerrs

  3. Mark

    February 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Not wishing to appear as a fact driven nerd, but Magic Carpet Ride didn’t appear in the film Easy Rider. The film contained two other Steppenwolf songs, The Pusher and Born to be Wild. I feel much better now.

    • Bill

      February 9, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      you are correct
      the song title was great

  4. Grey Hippie

    February 9, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Mark is right; Magic Carpet Ride was used alongside Ringo Starr’s solo acting debut in 1968’s “Candy”, described on Wiki as a ‘sex farce’ by French director Christian Marquand.

  5. Steven Lind

    February 9, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I saw them at Randall’s Island Downing Stadium (after John Sebastian and Grand Funk but before Jethro Tull and Jimi Hendrix) and they were LEGENDARY. Not only is Magic Carpet Ride one of the most beautiful and memorable and timeless hit singles ever made but Monster-Suicide-America was one of the most lyrically and musically compelling REVOLUTIONARY songs ever made. And Born to be Wild is the KING of Heavy Metal Thunder. Before it ever even had a name Steppenwolf did it first.

    • Bill

      February 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      What a concert to have seen. Sure wish a Randall’s Island set would come our on video.

  6. Steven Lind

    February 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    For those of you who care enough to explore the door to the Twilight Zone….From the same (Awesome!) album as Magic Carpet Ride …the 1st song is “Faster than the Speed of Life” written by Mars Bonfire (who also wrote “Born to be Wild) and …as BTBW is written in the keys of ADE Faster is written in EDA. So if you were to play them like that they would be much like the wings of a Butterfly. A Heavy Metal Steppenwolf (Room Full of Mirrors) Butterfly.

  7. Lucky

    February 10, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Correct. And the lyrics “…heavy metal thunder…” was from Born to be Wild.

  8. Lucky

    February 10, 2015 at 3:06 am

    * “were” from

    Sometimes it’s okay to be a fact driven nerd, when the facts are important enough. There is so little information about Steppenwolf on the internet, we need to keep straight what little there is.

    I still keep Monster in regular rotation. So political, but still relevant.

  9. Jay

    February 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Oh how I miss those days. Muscle cars and 8 tracks with Steppenwolf playing over and over going down the road. I remember buying Monster and being one of the first to have it. What a unique rock sound Steppenwolf played. I enjoy Slacker Radio taking me back.

  10. Phil

    March 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Saw the original band at the Cincinnati gardens in ’69; anyone else there? They were late; showed up at midnight; I would have waited forever. An afroed goldy pounding the b-3 hammond and the snarling sunglassed john are images I”ll never forget.

  11. Paul Barnes

    November 5, 2015 at 12:19 am

    I still have the 8 track tape! I was in the 6th grade! 🙂

  12. Dale Chamberlain

    March 20, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Magic Carpet Ride was used in Star Trek First Contact. Very cool to hear it during humanity’s first warp experience!

  13. Keno

    March 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    It doesnt make you a nerd to know a lot of facts in my opinion. In most cases, that would be a fan if your facts are correct. Thats flattering as well as important to them. I, too have a bit of factual information about the song Magic Carpet Ride along with many other inside details about the band. The song was written by Moreve, I cant say Kay didnt wrlte any part of it but I was told it was Moreve who actually wrote the song and I do know that Moreve sued Kay over the rights and was later awarded somewhere in the area of a quarter million dollars before he died. According to Moreve his inspiration for writing the song came during a walk on the beach where he overheard a guitar lick which he wrote the song to. That song as we all know it today became Magic Carpet Ride. This came directly from Moreve when asked what inspired him to write the song.

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The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
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