Single: September 21, 1964 - US: #65 UK: #11
Album: All Summer Long - July 13, 1964 - US: #4 UK: N/A
OK fine, one more song about driving. This one’s different though, not just because it’s about a motorbike instead of a car, but because it’s about the ride itself instead of the machine or the culture around it. Sure the Honda’s built light and handles turns like a dream, but the point of counting up the gears on the chorus is to feel the acceleration, the wind whipping through your hair and your ragged old sweatshirt. It’s fun.
This, remember, was one of the songs that I couldn’t make sense of as a kid but still found myself drawn to. Group chants of “Honda-Honda go faster-faster!” have a way of subduing some of Mike’s lead lines. You hear him count the gears—it’s one of the catchiest two-note hooks I’ve ever heard—but the stuff in between like “it’s alright” and “hang on tight” come just as the rest of the guys are hitting their harmonic stride and can get a bit lost. “Little Honda” makes you lean in to hear the words. Or, if you don’t care much about words, it presents you with a blend of voices that can grab the ear individually but still wash over you as one collective movement. Pretentious as it may sound for a two minute ditty about cruising on a motorbike, this song is like a work of vocal, textural sculpture.