Madonna?
ABBA?
Hornsby?

Why do we like who we like?

Running?
Swimming?
Cycling?

Why do we do what we do?

And we do them all.
I suppose there is no figuring them,
Especially, the ABBA thing,
Although, as I found today,
I know a whole lot more Madonna
Than my masculine membership probably allows,
But then, again,

Why do we like what we like?

Hornsby…the home connection, the stories, the variety.

Why do we do what we do?

Running…it what I’ve always done.

A bad reason, I know,
But I’m not ready to claim
The others in my fitness calling.
Not really ready for Madonna or ABBA, either.

Music can make a mood,
Stoke a thought,
Change a feeling,
Make a moment.
My day started in darkness,
I emerged in a light
Full of memories,
Doused with creative energy,
Inspired to run, write, to be ridiculous.

This is how they played…

Just Like Heaven (1987), The Cure

Four-thirty in the morning,
Birds are chirping, they do that you know,
I’ve heard AC was built for that reason.
That little trick line
Took me way back to a time when high school
Was over, but the relationships were still strong,
Took me way back to a place where cheesy rose high
In a converted roller skating rink turned night club
Took me way back, when there was no showing of tricks,
And high school ended.
On this dark morning, thirty-something years later,
I could only smile,
Wondering how life would be different with a little more guile,
A little less ambition, and a better trick.

Magic (1984), The Cars

One big ass drop, two loops, and the status of mythical monsters,
That was The Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens,
A new roller coaster, loops, speed, balls out fun,
I’d meet college kids there,
Hanging with them making me feel cool,
Since high school,
Was at least another year from being done.
There was the track runner,
She was something.
There was the party dude,
He knew a lot about her,
But he had no magic with her.
In the blazing hot summer, he tried to start a fire,
She put it out like the cold air in the break room,
No problem, he accepted that his wallet wasn’t thick enough,
And headed to the LeMans cars.
In fact, we all did,
Trading in the lime green overalls,
For shorts and running shoes.
Maybe that got me to this morning
When a longish run
Was on the agenda.

The song ended.
Unfolding myself from the truck began.
Two minutes later
The real sleight of hand began,
Legs moving,
Heart beating,
Cobwebs shaken off,
Running.

Pretending (1989), Eric Clapton

West Philly, no AC, no birds chirping,
Buses, police cars, fire trucks spewing noise,
My apartment, spartan, poetry spitting from a dot matrix,
Me on my back wondering what I had done,
Leaving the Colonial Capital for the City of Brotherly Love,
Bound to duty and unwilling to break ranks,
While Clapton implored me to stop pretending.
I stayed making the most of things,
Thinking the path was true

It wasn’t.

Many years later
The gig was up.
Life would get better
Where no faking would be necessary
For truth in feeling, that soul massaging way
Got back to me.
Yes, Eric, no pretending.

Home By the Sea (1983), Genesis

Her parents weren’t home,
My friend’s girlfriend and her friend were alone.
He drove a Camero, earliest 80s vintage,
He drove fast, the Ironbound Express,
A blue blur flying through the night
His foot inspired by adolescent dreams.
Nobody talked, the windows were down,
Spring can get hot in Tidewater,
Since it is a home kind of close to the sea,
I’m not sure about seat belts,
The will to live is different at seventeen,
Death has no dominion then.
We made it safely.
We left safely.

The Lakers won that night.

Wicked Garden, (1992), Stone Temple Pilots

Rage, frustration, I don’t know with this one,
When it came out, I was mad,
Mad at a lot of stuff,
Mad because I was a chump.
I might still be,
I can’t claim to be an interpreter of song,
But this one gets the adrenaline pumping,
Motivation, aggression,
A soul taking, ankle-breaking mentality
Fit as a mid-day espresso.

The run was long past,
The sun was high in the sky,
The hurricane that my office fan stirs
Blew with Category Five ferocity and
When this song hit,
I was the eyewall, spinning in imagery,
Letting go of work’s never-ending frustration.

Music can make a mood,
Stoke a thought,
Change a feeling,
Make a moment.
My day started in darkness,
I emerged in a light
Full of memories,
Doused with creative energy,
Inspired to run, write, to be ridiculous.

This was how they played…

Here goes again, the phone is off this time and I’m trying to write about the meaning of music as a life force, my son, and how a YouTube channel took advantage of my liquored up ways.

First, my son has a belief, as any decent musician might, that music and its rhythms are the truest embodiment of time and it serves as a life-force like no other. I suppose his idea could be debated, but I have little in the way of conflicting evidence, mostly because I just appreciate theories, unless of course, they serve to oppress people. I have no time for that. I’m willing to go along with my son’s idea since at every stressful turn in my life music has been there to comfort my ragged ass.

Insert: Hornsby, Neko Case, Wilco, Clapton, you see what I mean…

Truth is, I turn to music as therapy. Once, I tried to “make” music, but I quickly found that my understanding of the whole thing is not even on a scale of whatever it takes to make music. I would rather be inspired by the sounds that others make, taking their energy to my heart, to my soul, to my limbic brains, and doing with their output whatever the vibe provides.

I think that is my natural way.

After spending a morning with my son and debating whether music is life, I played devil’s advocate and claimed exercise (and physicality) as the true expression of who we are, I happened upon magic elixirs from Kentucky and Mexico. The spinning effects of hydration brought me to Flowstate just after my first time with “Playing for Change” on YouTube. It was crazy.

I’m a big Keb Mo’ fan and the sight of him playing in a video with a bunch of international musicians took me to another place. I was lost in the recuperation from marital discord and the more than balancing reverberation that was finding true love. I thought of all those nights when “Muddy Water” would allow me to sleep soundly in a downtrodden apartment wondering WTF was happening to my life only to awake to STP and the hope that I would get back to a “Wicked Garden” before I became the old guy at the bar.

I did!

Now, as I sit under the influence and free of the trappings of responsibility listening to a new artist, Twanguero, I am again feeling the weight of life. This time it is not heavy. It is content in a way that is motivational, emotional, and enriching. Seeing Keb and all those others singing “standards” took me somewhere I have not been in a long time.

To a rawness…
To vulnerability…
Just out there.

And it felt good. It’s so important to let go, to let the guard down, to just be. This day, with its heavy thinking, its distracting hydration, and its infusion of the life-force that music may or may not provide (running does the same thing, Kyle…) has been a welcome influence on this soul.

Enjoy!

Perspective is perplexing,
Music is relaxing,
Plenty of coffee is “Ex-laxing”
And I’m sitting in a convection oven office
Trying to make sense of
Moods,
Mayhem,
Mental incarceration, and
Any other mmm-mmm bad
Thing that might surf through my brain.

Take perspective,
A walk in the reality of one,
Since we all see things differently,
Through our lens,
In our time, with our emotional makeup,
Under the stresses of our lives.
It’s easy to see how we can be so confused
By the way we are supposed to be
Because the rules are made by those seeing
In way unique to them, foreign to us.

In these days of Rrrrrr,
Political discourse, career apathy,
Self-inflicted physical beatdowns,
The rundown nature of getting on
Tends to taint my outlook on how things are going.
Music soothes, takes on that edge,
With just a little hit on the boombox bong
I melted away without the need for psychoactive properties
Given a little bass, some familiar words, and
I zoomed away from the manstrating mood I found myself in.

Today, Joe Walsh’s, Life’s Been Good To Me, played, it’s
A teenage anthem that never fails to raise my spirit.
Coming through beat up desktop speakers, Joe helped me leave now
Allowing me to drift back to a community gathering where
Big Pioneer speakers added the soundtrack
For a night of shenanigans that
Started a summer adventure
Where for a few weeks
I’d understand the importance
Of patience, pacing, and accepting the impermanence of life.

Maybe the song was the inspiration
For my nostalgic trip back to York County.
Maybe it was the river of coffee that I’d been drinking
Due to the absence of anything stronger
During working hours.
Interestingly, the java didn’t loosen my bowels,
It relaxed my thoughts, allowing those good memories
To flood my present and wash away
The stodgy way of thinking I woke up with.
Perspective, music, and coffee. Ahh…

A run can be just a run,
It can also be something more.
The effort to keep breathing,
To keep legs moving
To keep the mind focused,
It’s a lot.
I’m finding a connection
That might be too ethereal for some,
Too new age for others,
But what do I care,
I’m the one running and
I do believe in the independence of a person’s
Soul, no matter where it ultimately resides.

I kind of see running as a “Going Steady” lesson,
One where the girl and the boy
Wrestle with what it means to date.
In the 1950s the video teased with entendre,
“Have their way with you…”
“All the way…”
And as I hobble along with a balking calf muscle
I’m ready to get back to going steady with my runs,
All the way…
Just the way I like it…

So this morning,

As I went once around the block,
No more, no less,
And headed from the wide open love of the road
To the less risky, more laboratory confines
Of a sixteen lap to the mile track,
I fully intended to go slow
With my recovery.

Yeah, right.
My new playlist,
Inspired by American Pickers, the Ralph Stanley episode,
Looked to be the answer to the NASCAR perpetual left turn run
I was preparing to endure.

(Two laps-stretch-repeat for two miles)

Thoughts from some of the songs follow…

Sunshine Reggae (Laid Back)

Not being sure,
Is an absolute way to make a mistake.
Sunshine Reggae, more techno than Jamaican,
Sent an electronic vibe with a message of letting go.
The first few steps to the ganja synth
Were delicate, precise, full of fear,
But all was good,
No tension, no pain.

Leave a Tender Moment Alone (Lee Roy Parnell)

Heading to Nashville, by way of Stephenville, TX,
My old home before the move to the Old Dominion,
Was a reminder to go slow,
Not to push the pace,
Not to abuse my body just for the sake of being tough,
But there was a phantom pain, and
I’ve been burned by the idea
That opening up is good.
Going too fast can hurt,
Leave it alone.

Vertigo (U2)

Uh-oh, when Bono started counting,
My adrenals start pumping
And in that slightly euphoric pre-runners high,
Kind of like that feeling when the first drink or two hits,
Where the inhibitions are lost,
Socializing is easier,
And none of the bad decision making has arrived yet,
I was under extreme musically inspired peer pressure.
Two laps became three, stretching became less persistent
And my commitment to conservatism was gone.
My legs tied into my lungs and off I went
Like a train leaving the shed for the last time
I had resigned myself from the constraints tracks can
Put on a man.

Possession Over Judgment Day (Eric Clapton)

There are artists who inspire,
There are songs that stop me,
In Eric Clapton and his version of this song,
I was in the graces of inspiration and at least today,
Stopped in the pursuit of my cautious and easy jaunt.
The guitars, the gravely voice, the Vertigo inspired high,
All conspired to let me go
Where no injured runner should go,
All out.
The first few laps were a breeze,
I was flying around the track
Feet barely touching the ground,
Ego tempting the gods of remorse.

“You are cured, Effer,” I thought and pushed the pace.

Little did I know, but the Landlord comes calling
To those who do not respect time,

Those who think they can manipulate nature,
Those who get overly enamored with themselves.

Which is where I was
When the rent came due.

There was just a twitch,
A little telegraph sent from my Achilles to my gastroc,
A message saying, “Dumbass, you aren’t ready.”
I played the conductor, slamming on the breaks,
Sliding around the no grade curve above the basketball court
With a panic, I know too well,
It’s one of those feelings like being caught in a conversation
That you have no idea how to get out of,
One that only time can end.

At that point, I judged my run over
And me the idiot
For losing patience,
For too much hubris,
For not listening to my legs.

So endeth the playlist…

And the running for today.

If it’s true
That a run is not just a run,
What have I learned?
I’ve got a long way to go
My ability to be patient,
And evidently a patient,
Is still a weakness.
Better to go slow,
Listen to my body over my plan,
And stay healthy
Because recovery can be it’s own
Marathon.

Rushing memories,
Fleeting emotions,
Songs of a cold basement,
Signs of the bad
And worse
Of times.

Rays of brightness
Slow a running mind with
Cooling thoughts and
Songs of enlightenment,
Signs of the most exciting
And frightening
Of times.

A brilliant dimness,
The perfect antidote
To the ups and downs,
A song of truth and love,
Signs of eternal commitment
And security
Within these times.