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The Wolf

Steppenwolf’s signature song, “Born to be Wild” shows up early and only very briefly in “Covered With Snow.” Released in 1968, BTBW had already become a huge part of pop culture by the time of the novel’s opening scene in June, 1970, after it was featured, the previous summer (1969), in the semi-psychedelic but dark, guys’-fantasy-road-trip film “Easy Rider,” starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

(The film came out a month before Woodstock. It’s hard to watch now, but instructive of the culture then. As a teen in the '70s, I enjoyed most of Steppenwolf's other songs too, several of which, like "Snowblind Friend," are poetic and thoughtful, wholly unlike the adrenaline-soaked, much more familiar BTBW.)

The band’s name, in turn, derives from the 1927 German novel Der Steppenwolf, (literally, the wolf of the steppes--i.e., barren places) by Hermann Hesse which (in very rough terms) paints a picture of an extreme “lone wolf” in spiritual-existential crisis. Steppenwolf’s members are Canadian, including Mars Bonfire, (aka Dennis Edmonton, aka Dennis Eugene McCrohan) who is primarily credited with writing it, after being inspired by a thunderstorm. Bonfire went on to become an extremely “prolific hiker” in California.

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