Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Long distance runner, what you standing there for?"

Heavy metal is not the soundtrack to long distance running. It might power you around a track or get you amped and angry before a game, but for a long, grueling run, my mind/soul needs something more expansive. Something that can charge or carry me through the valleys.

Not to knock heavy metal music. Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, were formative musical influences for me, ultimately dropping me on the door step of the hardcore and punk, from Bad Brains, the Clash, 7Seconds, Sick of it All, that would be the soundtrack of my skateboarding teens. And I still dig and listen to all of them.

It started in sixth grade, trading cassette tapes back and forth with my friend Nate. Priest and Maiden and Motley Crue, Quiet Riot and even Deep Purple. Nate put a Grateful Dead tape in my hand, the artwork looking a bit like the Maiden covers, and proceeded to sing Casey Jones like it was an Alice Cooper song. I took it home to give a listen. It didn't fit with the screaming and power chords I was after, but wasn't bad.

I don't think you can dig old jazz and blues and not be pulled in with what the Dead, Phish and the jam bands have done with the improvisational, free-form vibe. Saying that, the unencumbered "space" of some of the live jam bands has always been a turn-off for me. The best of all of it keys a balance between structure and improv.

When I want to go out and plug in to the iPod for a long run, the Dead, moe., Strangefolk, Umphrey's McGee have given me that mojo of making my mind and body want to dance, want to float, making the soul smile and heavy legs lighter. That can be more valuable on some days. It can be what laces your shoes up.

Long distance runner, what you standing there for? Get up, get off, get out of the door.

Fire on the Mountain has a prominent spot on a number of running playlists. Towards that expansive state of mind where the runner, and the run, and the road or trail are all the same. And it carries over into the rest of the day, where Robin and I are driving with the girls and dogs to Tuckahoe State Park and both singing along together to New Speedway Boogie, with the road winding under the wheels...


Karen Taylor said...

Ha! Fire on the Mountain is on my running playlist!! As is Box of Rain and Friend of the Devil for the part where I hit the beach..seems in fitting with the ocean for some reason.
I also have most of the tracks from Phish's Billy Breathes album (my absolute favourite)... kinda pushes you through the hurt in a great way!

Karen Taylor said...

P.S The Cheese String Incident are also a solid on my playlist - have you heard them before? If not... make it so....!!

Michael Valliant said...

Hey Karen - all great stuff! Phish's Run Like an Antelope and Runaway Jim are a couple favorite running tunes of mine.

I really like what I've heard of The String Cheese Incident, though admittedly don't have enough in my song library. I will have to remedy that :)