I am often guilty of keeping my running mixes way too long. So this fall, I’ve got a new mix to get me to 500 miles for 2014, the goal I set every year. (NOT that we are having a fall this year, it just went STRAIGHT to winter. THANKS OBAMA! errr– Mother Nature?!). So anyway, given that I’ve had a few injuries this year, closing in on 500 is always tough in November and December due to light, work schedule cold, etc. New Running Mix to the Rescue!
The mood this time of year is reflective as fall always is. The mix is about an hour as I run from 4-7 miles at a clip at around 9:30 per mile. Here goes, in no particular order…
DIRTY PAWS ACOUSTIC – Monsters and Men
I love the vocals on this band, (Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, Ragnar þórhallsson), acoustically, even more so. Since I am mostly a trail runner, it’s quite inspirational thinking about the forest and paws all around me when this one comes on. I also like songs that start really slow and then pick up– keeps my paws moving.
CALLING YOU — Blue October
A friend put this one on my radar a few years back, apologies if they are one those “Nickelback” type bands that people make fun of? I know nothing other than it reminds me of my friend. The song is about smiles and me and the friend that put this on my radar, we share crooked ones. We also share the ability to make smiles out of frowns for each other, no matter how many days, weeks, months, even years go by between talks. Songs like that keep the feet moving in the right direction.
MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW — Soggy Bottom Boys
This one has a nice steady slowish pace, just like me on some runs. I love Coen brothers movies and many runs are workmanlike endeavors that you just have to keep on keepin’ on. We’ve all got sorrows. I leave mine on the running trail when this one comes on the shuffle.
EASY — Faith No More
“This one’s for the ladies in the house…” One of my favorite covers of all time. I was not that huge of a Faith No More fan, but that a band known for rocking that hard, could tenderly cover a Commodores classic, and cover it really well? That was a relatively new idea to me when this came out. In the song he almost makes fun that they are covering it, but that’s just rocker guy bravado as other parts of the song you KNOW he is totally feeling his inner Lionel Richie Jheri Curl— So am I when this one comes on. Especially on Sunday which is a big running day for me.
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE — Fiona Apple
With Fiona’s beautiful voice and Lennon/McCartney’s beautiful lyrics as birds, bees, flowers and trees are passing to my left and right on the running trail, I could literally listen to this song on repeat the whole run. It’s hypnotizing me. The trail I run has been my stomping ground since my elementary school Diamond Back BMX bike days– it’s my little part of the Universe and “nothing’s gonna change my world” when this one comes on shuffle. Even though my knees, back and ankles threaten to shut running down all the time.
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER — Fiona Apple and Johnny Cash
Speaking of the things that “shut us down,” this song is about the things that pick me up and is an amazingly inspirational running song for me. Especially this version. It’s the tail end of Cash’s career, he died less than a year later, and literally he could not get to the end of that song without Fiona to pick up his vocals. This song is about those pick me ups we all need. I think about the people that are my “bridges’ when this one comes on, those that inspire me, and help me along the trail.
FRANK MILLS — The Lemonheads
This song is pretty silly and really random. I think i heard it as a kid when I stayed up late to watch nude ladies in “Hair” on a movie channel thing called “Prism” in the Philadelphia Market. Then I forgot all about it– then the Lemonheads covered at just the right time to put it back on my radar at sometime in the 90s. It’s got a George Harrison reference that makes me laugh, and an Angela reference that makes me nostalgic about me and my cousin. Everyone has a BFF cousin, she’s mine and we share tons of weird quirky stuff in common.
YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE — Norman Blake
This one snuck on the mix when I added “Man of Constant Sorrow” I didn’t pick it… but maybe it picked me. Everyone knows this song, but this version has a weak and lilting southern twang like my Gram’s family. Blake sings like they sang and talked. My mom and my gram used to sing this one to me as a real little kid– so when it comes on I think about my family and how much they help and continue to help keep me moving. Not just those two, but all my family. I also think about how I help them back.
I’M FREE — The Who
When this one comes on, I am a shaggy-haired Roger Daltry. Great running song. If you don’t feel free when you are running, you are not doing it right.
BUBBLEGOOSE — Wyclef Jean Featuring Stan, Kyle and Cartman from South Park
I love South Park and believe it or not, as funny as this song is? It’s inspirational to me. South Park started as a dopey cult show that I loved with my group of friends, but when Chef Aid came out and Wyclef agreed to be on it, among others, I felt a kinship for a dopey show that i really thought was some private joke between me and my buddies.
LOVE LETTER — Yellowman
Every running mix should have some Reggae. Old Reggae is the best. I was a great letter writer. I was an even better Love Letter writer. Email, text, etc– not the same. Yellowman brings you right back to a time before the art of the letter was lost.
WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN — June Carter Cash/ Johnny Cash
This song is a Gospel hymn. Weird for a running mix. But not for a reflective fall mix. No one really remembers who wrote this originally, but it gets attributed to the Carter family of country music fame a lot. The song is about family, it’s sung in a collaborative style and it can’t help but remind me of my own family. I still live where so many of them have lived for a hundred plus years, and when this one comes on shuffle, I feel the spirit of my family that are gone but not forgotten all around me.
GODS & MONSTERS — Lana Del Ray
We all have a light side. And a dark side. And while the light is overwhelmingly winning this mix, without dark, light cannot exist. This track speaks to my dark side. So many metaphors in this one– beautiful and haunting, wrapped up in the theme of “innocence lost.” This song keeps me moving on the trail for different reasons. Jessica Lange covers this one in American Horror Story. Lana is controversial, but I like her.
VIDEO GAMES — Lana Del Ray
Every mix needs a love song. I can’t stomach the Air Supply, Styx, Reo SpeedWagon genre of love song– but I can stomach this one. She paints beautiful portraits with her lyrics of really common not sexy things, like video games. I’ve liked the “bad girl honey” from way back and this song is a reminder on the trail.
CLOSING TIME — Semi-Sonic
This song reminds me of the last year I lived in New Brunswick after the end of college. So many great memories, but I had to keep moving… Fits really well in the fall mix as fall is a “closing time” too. So many great memories in a year– but you have to keep moving.
HALLELUJAH — Rufus Wainwright
Once upon a time I was on “my trail” running at the time of great crossroads in my life. A major decision loomed and running is how I do my best thinking. On both sides of the decision was both opportunity and loss. No right answer, no wrong– just change. Sometimes I get paralyzed with decisions like that. As that run began there was a light drizzle, on a hot day. I love a light drizzle on a hot day. As I hit the longest part of the trail that leads home, the iPod shuffled to this song. And the drizzle turned to downpour. And it poured. And I ran. And ran. The harder it rained the harder I ran. As Rufus sang the Cohen lyrics, a kind of downpour started inside me as well. All the anxiety and stress, let go– I couldn’t tell where the rain stopped and the tears began, but the rain and the run cleansed my soul. As i finished the run the sun came back up to culminate one of the most beautiful and moving experiences I ever had running. I was exhausted but found a clarity that had eluded me. I was not longer fearful of the decision I had to make, but excited about where the choice would take me. I don’t know what aligns the song to scenery and the weather in the sky to the “whethers” in our minds — but something much bigger than me was at play.
Ever since then? Sorry Berlin Park, to me, you’re the Hallelujah Trail now.
So there it is. The Fall 2014 Running Mix. There is an inch of show on the ground so Winter Mix will be here sooner than I want. Until then this contemplative collection of tracks will be with me on runs as I give thanks to the places I’ve been, the place I am at and the places I will go– and of course thanks to all those that keep me moving on the trail. That’s kinda what running is for me and where my mind goes. Thanksgiving is every day that I run.