So much in life is about what I can't do, what I do wrong, what isn't happening, isn't working, isn't going my way. I feel frustrated, then angry and powerless. I run because it gives me my voice back. I wrote a book about running called Feet, Don't Fail Me Now, which is kind of weird because I write about music, but it actually makes me feel the same way: alive.
I don't need permission, can't mess it up and am able to do it completely on my own terms. I'm not waiting for something or someone and I don't need help or have to apologize. It's all id. Running is rock 'n' roll. It's a drum solo, release -- a chance for me to go mad.
In my book, I get musicians to choose songs to run to. Most of them immediately responded with: I don't run. I told them I don't care. I don't need Willie Nelson to recommend breathing techniques and I certainly don't want Jack White telling me about sneakers. What makes you feel good? I said. I can run to anything. I like to run to slow jams. Don't get me wrong, nothing is better than Banned in D.C. and I listened to Fugazi during my last marathon.
But Paul Simon's Graceland may be my favourite running song. Or Neil Diamond's I Am...I Said. Because in the end, when you're listening to music in a race, or on your own in the cold, or by yourself in your bedroom, it's the feeling that you connect with -- the artists in my book told me the music that brings out emotion in them.
Lately I feel like I'm more emotional than ever. It's incredible, even ridiculous, pathetic, how personally I take this book. Every slight, every non-mention, every email that goes un-returned, I'm ready to rage. And I have a 6 week-old son. This kind of self-involvement is embarrassing. In my house, we didn't even have water during the Polar Vortex, and yet I'm ready to complain to my wife when GQ doesn't return my call? Asshole!
This is why I run and what I get at in the book and what I think comes across in the music the artist's selected. I have 30 rock stars recommending tunes to go running and some talked about beats per minute and pacing -- Ben Gibbard runs marathons and he says Spoon's My Mathematical Mind is the perfect run song and will.i.am broke down how house music works.
But when Emily Haines' recommends EMA's California, it's not because the song has a certain rhythm. It's because it gets her pissed off. Here are some other songs that artists recommend in the book. And you can stream them all from this Rdio playlist:
Feist: "Supersonic by JJ Fad
Kendrick Lamar: "Against All Odds" by 2Pac
Pearl Jam: "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead
Jack White: "On the Run" by Pink Floyd
Ghostface Killah: "Run" by Ghostface Killah
Brian Wilson: "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes
The National "I Care Because You Do" Aphex Twin
Joan Baez, Bamboleo, The Gypsy Kings
Will.I.Am: "My Philosophy" by Boogie Down Productions
The Gaslight Anthem: "Audience" by Cold War Kids
It's cold outside and it's hard to go running. But even in the summertime, the kids need to be looked after, the house is a mess, and I'm behind at work, and anyways, what's the future with that? It's tough to do anything when there's never enough time and who knows what's a good next move?
I go out anyway and turn up my music, because when I'm running, as opposed to almost everything else except for after too many drinks, I actually feel that way. That that song is about me.
I hate making excuses. I hate apologizing. And I hate that I feel like I do those very things all the time. But not when I go running. That's when I'm rock 'n' roll.