Do I want to ride a bicycle? Yes! Fun! Do I want to ride an elephant? Yes, if the elephant is OK with it. That would be awesome!
When you ride, you get to move with more speed and power, subject to interesting strict conditions. You have a favorable working relationship with something or someone. You can attend to your ride’s powers, to your own riding power, to your changed relations with things around you; you can revel in the whole action.
Actually and marvelously, human life is full of riding. You ride the bus, and you ride the city; you ride in your car and you ride a whole continent. You ride light and sound, the air and the ground; you ride your own body, and–such is self-consciousness–you even ride your mind. You ride language and (careful!) you ride your relationships.
Riding music can be fun, like with a bicycle (“What I Like About You”), or awesome, like with an elephant (Mahler’s Ninth Symphony), but it’s always a stimulating way of riding your life. You can hardly not enjoy your own actions while clasping the music’s movement.
Any expression that unspools in time is a ride. If it’s artistic, it’s meant to be a great ride. However, there is normally a balance between enjoying the ride of a musical experience and listening to it as expression, submitting to the command of someone’s voice and meaning. To pay all your attention to the ride would be . . . gross. If riding were the main thing, “Slow Ride” (Foghat, 1975) might be our main song.
The most beautiful riding song is Rickie Lee Jones’s “The Horses” (1989). A mother imagines for a little daughter how to overcome separation: We’ll be riding on the horses . . . way up in the sky. The voice and meaning are enchanting. And horses are amazingly supportive. What’s great about the actual ride of the song is partly the surging rhythm of the early-arriving chord changes in the chorus (surging like when you have to let a horse pick its own way up a slope) but even more its program of smooth little hitches between the song’s main segments (at 0:39, 0:50, and 1:10 the first time through), kind of like smoothly getting up on your ride. It gives you an optimism about the whole life of riding.