Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Running for Sanity: Original Pirate Material

The following post was from August of last year. For obvious reasons I was not timely about posting it, and for not so obvious reasons I am finally getting around to finishing it up. Luckily I never did have to go for a run again in those early months.
My listening has been on hiatus for four weeks now. Maybe it's because four weeks ago we welcomed the newest member of our family, a baby girl. This should be a post about how wonderful and adorable she is (and she is) or how overjoyed I am to have completed my little family of four (my heart sometimes feels like it going to burst with thankfulness and joy). But this isn't that post. That post needs to come, but this is a post about running and escaping.

Last night I went for my first voluntary run, not including pickup basketball, since April of 2010. That's a long streak of no running, considering I have to pass a physical test twice a year.
But last night I ran. I ran until my chest felt like it would tear in half. I ran until my gut ached. I burst out the door and tore down the street like I was running from a horde of zombies (I've been catching up on a lot of the walking dead during my nearly sleepless nights) or like I was running down anyone who would hurt my family (my fatherly instincts are on high alert these days). I ran until I was spitting bile. I ran until the dry heaves forced me to the curb doubled over. Then I straightened up and ran some more. I felt miserable when I got home and wandered around my yard in the dark trying to keep down the contents of my stomach. For an hour I sweat and my head spun. But then I finally settled and all the intensity of the day finally melted away.
I needed to escape. Screaming baby, crying toddler, stressed out wife; the family I live for and have spent my life dreaming of finally having, was driving me crazy. There's a great song by Kathleen Edwards called "Run" that captures the feeling perfectly. But when I told my wife I needed to go for a run, a statement met with a look of shock, I threw on my shoes and earbuds, and put my iPod on random. The first track was The Streets "Turn the Page." Perfect.

Artist: The Streets
Recording: Original Pirate Material
Recording #50ish
The strings rise, pulsating, endlessly. Then that off-kilter drum beat, and more strings. "That's it, turn the page on the day, walk away." Mike Skinner's nasally voice needles its way into my brain. The night is warm, and my legs feel like nothing. The misdirected anger is boiling inside me. I know there is no one to blame for my frustration, that it's just part of the job description of "parent." But it just makes me angrier that I have no one to pin it on. I run harder. Other songs come on, but I don't remember them. I just remember that eventually I started to think less about my life and more about how my body was starting to hurt. I was happy about that. I punished my body by pushing it harder instead of slowing down. It paid me back when I got home, but in the end it paid off and I came home ready to try again at being a dad and husband.
The rest of Original Pirate Material is still great running music, by the way, but not for angry running. Skinner's unconventional rap style is too distracting to sound angry, and most of the songs focus more on his happy stoner demeanor than any sort of violence. I remember the first time I heard The Streets was back in the summer of 2002 when I was home from college. My music guru John put on "The Irony of it All" and I was hooked. Before I went back to school I had bought the album and listened to it daily. The lazy sounding production, the most awkward rhymes imaginable, and the head nodding beats were perfect for long nights of studying, or avoiding studying. I had a radio show where I played The Streets as much as I could get away with (and actually once got a request for more). Even more than a decade later nothing sounds quite like it. The follow-up, A Grand Don't Come for Free is nearly as good, and the story cycle of the concept album means I can't ever listen to just one song. There were highlights on the recordings that followed, but none matched the debut. Check it out on Spotify here.

Check out Tom Moons entry here.

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