All (take that with a pinch of salt, will ya?) I want to do on a regular basis involves running, cycling, writing and music. I’m in my element with these. Mind, when I say “element” I do not mean air. Since none of these is likely to make me a living, most of what I do by way of work is to allow me to indulge in these in peace. I’ve managed to combine music and writing on this blog and so I’m doubly happy now that I’m back to writing on DyingNote. At the beginning of this month I took tentative early steps (once again) on the path that runs to the marathon and its various contracted and extended manifestations. And it does look like I’ve finally managed to banish the demons in my head that bedevilled my getting back to the way I used to cycle before a couple of bad crashes in quick succession sent me spinning off the track almost two years back.
I draw a blank on anything musical to link with cycling. The dominant association I draw to that activity is one of two super-heroes that I wanted to be as a child – and before you think, “Ooh! what an ambitious child this be”, read on. Hamsterman. Very obvious, isn’t it? If you must know, the other was “it’s a leaping lizard, it’s a flying saucer (you know, of the porcelain kind), no it’s FROGMAN”. But I’m hopping too far. Anyway, zip on music + cycling. So if you guys can come up with something connecting the two, add in a comment, please do. But running, music and writing I can combine.
I think at the root of The Doobie Brothers’ music is a pot of schizophrenia. The differences in styles of Patrick Simmons, Michael Mcdonald and Tom Johnston made for interesting variety in their music which becomes very apparent when you listen to any of their better compilation albums. “Takin’ It To The Streets” marked the beginning of the Michael McDonald sound. The soul-infused, keyboard-laced “It Keeps You Runnin’” with its shuffling rhythm sets up the early warm-up run. Take it smooth and easy.
The ‘60s and ‘70s saw the formation of a number of supergroups which usually went the way of a supernova given all that density of super-sized egos. One such was Bad Company, formed when singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke of Free got together with King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell and Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. I’ve heard their first few albums and while they had a talent for great hooks, they lacked consistency. I think the “10 From 6” compilation carries their best, and their best is very good. Back when this album was released in my part of the world, quite a few people bought it mistaking it for a Michael Jackson album – the “Bad” on the album cover was that prominent. No, it was not gimmicky because this collection was released a couple of years before the Jackson album. “Run With The Pack” from their otherwise mediocre album of the same name ups the tempo enough for that steady run with the bunch that you didn’t leave behind.
And then when you’re ready to leave this other bunch by the wayside, you pay heed to Pink Floyd’s exhortation to “Run Like Hell”.
In the ‘90s when most rock bands were going all grungy and riding the alternative road, Gomez brought a refreshingly bluesy tinge to rock. This is one of the most consistent rock bands that I’ve heard. Even their slightly below par works are very good and don’t make it over the bar only because that crosspiece has been set so high by the band. The deceptively titled “Free To Run” from Gomez’s superb debut “Bring It On” is not an inspirational piece for that phase of the run when you want to give up and die. It just captures that agonising eternity in a matter-of-fact way.
I’m free to run, I walk slowly, along
And everyone, walkin’ slowly, along
I walk slowly, along
So you deal with it. Walk, shuffle, break into a painful, halting run but you don’t fall and crawl into the gutter by the side because you won’t find redemption there.
I first took to running as an adult after watching Forrest Gump (it’s a different matter that I gave it up very quickly, the way the streets were in the city that I lived in then). Yeah, that part where the man keeps running. No purpose – just the simple act of running. At the point when you feel like giving up, you think of something like that and you get the rush of that magical second wind which carries you through to the end. You may not need a thumping, racing beat to accompany you to that finishing line. The calm and resilience of something like Alan Silvestri’s “Forrest Gump Suite” gets you into just that right frame of mind – for it is more mind than body by then – to break on through to the other side.
Footnote: And if I live long enough when I no longer can run and cycle? What then? Well, I’ll just replace those with growing vegetables and herbs.