Sunday, September 21, 2008


I think the Ipod I received for my fiftieth birthday was the best gift I've ever received. Certainly without it I would not have been able to lose all this weight -- 52 and a half pounds at last weigh-in, 171 down from 223.5 -- because I would not have been able to do all the workouts without the music to inspire me -- and not just the music; I love listening to podcasts like "This American Life" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" while I walk, and maybe something fitness-related like "The Fitcast" while lifting weights.
But mostly it's the music. And the rekindling of my love for that art form "the least disagreeable of all noises". I used to live for the music and even now something from the Ramones or David Bowie or Grand Funk Railroad can send me back in time quicker than anything H.G. Wells ever dreamed of. But over the years my passion cooled. Part of the reason was that I didn't have time or disposable income to devote to music, with a full-time job and a hectic family life. Part of the reason was the tinnitus which has robbed me of some of my hearing. (That ringing in my ears by the way is probably not entirely unrelated to my previous adoration of music -- take care of your ears, kids. Practice safe music) And part of the reason was either -- and I'm honestly not sure which -- I either got old as dirt or music started to suck.
Anyway, I got an Ipod and after filling it up with all my CDs and downloading all the old stuff I've bought before as LPs, 45s, CDs, cassettes, et cetera, I went looking for new music. And boy, did I find it -- the great Americana sounds of Reckless Kelly, the high energy pop-punk of We The Kings, the positive vibrations of Michael Franti and Spearhead that actually got me to do something I haven't done in over a decade -- buy a CD, this one and I recommend it highly -- and my latest obsession, the hard-to-describe 29-member Swedish glee-club slash rock band "I'm From Barcelona." I've also found some old stuff I was not familiar with -- I keep changing my workout music playlist, but right now the first song on there is "Saved" by Laverne Baker recorded in 1961 and beginning "I used to smoke; I used to drink; I used to smoke, drink and dance the hootchie-koo" all of which is true in my case, (albeit my hootchie-koo dancing was never that impressive.) I've also rediscovered how some of my old favorites can be re-considered as workout anthems. One of the lines that gets me pumping hard is "I'm gonna strut like a cock until I'm ninety-nine" from Grand Funk's "Walk Like a Man." Similarly the Raspberries' "Go All the Way" is no longer a power pop sex track. "Go All the Way" now means don't give up, finish your HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
And really, I probably take lyrics (and song titles) way too seriously, you know that Clash song that starts "You say you stand by your man / Tell me something I dont understand /You said you love me and thats a fact / Then you left me, said you felt trapped" and the chorus that goes "Did you stand by me? No, not at all". It's a great song, lots of energy, but I had to move it way down on my playlist because although these lines are never sung, the name of the song is "Train in Vain" and that's the last thing I want to do.

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