Three minutes of effort,
One to recover,
What could I possibly think about
During that short running time?
It’s not like my mind can drift,
The Curve requires concentration,
I lost my balance and nearly fell once,
But my mind was ruthless in its wandering
So I let it go,
Thinking as much about the music as I could,
The rock GOATS Led Zeppelin,
The jam legends Phish,
Neither of whom I’ve seen,
But both clearly in my mind,
A picture of bands playing instruments
While their anthems blasted through my headphones
And my feet kept a simple pace for all of three minutes at a time.
For a few rounds, Tupac and Cube took over,
My mind locked in on their words,
Appropriate today, just as they were back then,
My mental image was MTV,
Not guys on stage shredding the air with instruments,
But dudes creating an image, crafting a message,
Selling the end of the rock and roll
That I grew up with.
I was into their styles,
The anger, the frustration, the calls to action,
And the minutes rolled on
One stride after another
One song after another,
One drop of sweat after another.

Put a Latin beat on a Marvin Gaye song
And you better be prepared.
Leave the tequila out the equation,
Keep the whiskey away,
All will be fine.
It’s like Cheap Trick says,
“They live inside of my head.”
The dreams, the suggestions, the memories.
They’re all there.
Teased out by a song,
By a shot,
By whatever.

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…