Long Run Soundtrack by Mark Stone
September 2012. A friend asked me recently what's in my play list and why for music that I listen to on my long runs. I'm very particular about what goes into that mix, but I confess I'd never really stepped back to consider exactly why I pick what I do until she asked. So here's a quick reflection on where the mix comes from.
First of all, every song has to have a strong, consistent beat. No jazz or classical in the mix for me; frequent tempo changes would just mess me up. Beyond that, everything seems to fall into one of five categories:
- Something soulful. The long run is a very solitary experience, and songs with a bluesy, mournful sound often seem to fit that solitary mood.
- Something fun. At the same time, you don't want a sound track that's depressing. So you have to mix it up with a few songs that just can't be taken too seriously, and are there strictly for fun.
- Something inspirational. When you're grinding through a tough stretch on a long run, having an inspirational song come up in the mix can be just the uplift you're looking for; something to motivate you through the hardest miles.
- Something anthemic. Similar to inspiriational. I grew up in the era of the rock anthem, and so there are always a few such songs in my mix to really get the blood flowing.
- Something that rocks. Sometimes you just need something that flat out rocks, something to which it is impossible to run slow.
My current play list is about 3 hours long, so I won't bore you with the whole thing. But here are some examples of each of these types.
- Fever, Bruce Springsteen. I jumped on the Springsteen bandwagon as a teenager with the release of Born to Run, and there's still nobody better at laying down a long, soulful track.
- Runner up - Have You Ever Loved a Woman, Derek and the Dominoes. Eric Clapton at his most anguished; George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd is the title "woman".
- Relax, Frank Goes to Hollywood. A classic one hit wonder, and a song guaranteed to make you smile.
- Runner up - Walk This Way, Aerosmith. This song was probably played at every high school dance for my class, much to the chagrin of chaperons and teachers.
- One Country, Midnight Oil. This group came to my attention about the time I was finishing graduate school. As is often the case, the album's best songs are not the ones that got played on the radio.
- Runner up - Its My Life, Bon Jovi. While I was never a huge Bon Jovi fan back in the day, I was always impressed that the band had greater longevity and quality than the typical forgettable 80s hair band. When I married Karen, my perspective changed. She's a total 80s girl, a big Bon Jovi fan, and really turned me on to some of the great tracks like this one.
- Achilles Last Stand, Led Zeppelin. From the masters of the rock anthem, but from one of their most overlooked albums. This has always been among my favorite Led Zeppelin songs.
- Runner up - Hells Bells, AC/DC. Completely over the top, but still a really energizing song. AC/DC may not have a lot of versatility, but they do what they do well.
- Runner up - Fire Woman, the Cult. I was a couple of years out of grad school when Sonic Temple was released, but the whole album just blew me away. It still does.
- Roll It Over, Derek and the Dominoes, from the album Live at the Fillmore. When my junior year roommate showed me this album I thought (a) who knew there was another Derek and the Dominoes album besides Layla, and (b) why would I listen to Derek and the Dominoes without Duane Allman? In fact, this album showcases some of the very best work that Eric Clapton has ever done, and this track in particular flat out rocks like no other.