Thanks to the wonders of Sirius XM radio, one can now listen to music in all sorts of categories. There are stations for every era of music from the 40s through the Y2Ks.
One can also stream music through Spotify, or throw yourself to the Random Gods through Pandora, which uses algorithms to select music similar to the artists you love.
Think about that for a moment. Pandora “knows” what you like based on all sorts of factors related to music structure and popularity.
There is even a recent theory that outlines a certain pattern of notes commonly used in many of today’s popular music. It’s like a “go to” chord progression that musicians stick into their songs in order to provide a sort of “dog-whistle” familiarity to their work.
It’s similar to the invention of “the hook” in pop and rock music that served as a signature for a song. You think about the opening chords of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction…bop bahhhm, ba dah dahhn, ba bop bopb, da da dommmm…” and that’s a helluva hook.
The Stones created so many classic hooks, yet many of their greatest hits owe great debt to the soul and blues musicians that served as their inspiration. I once visited the Chess Records building where Chicago Blues legends recorded their music and that band of skinny white boys from England came to learn some of the ropes.
Certainly, the Stones went on to create original music, yet they drew on the roots of music that filter all the way down to the American South, and in some respects, all the way back across the ocean to the African West Coast.
These patterns are elemental to the human condition. They draw up in us almost tribal instincts. The deep beats of Scottish or Celtic drums stirs the heart in familiar ways no matter what race or tribe of heritage we share. There is commonality in that trade of notes and rhythm and melody.
The same holds true for those of us who run. It is the most basic of human activities, yet there are many traditions that we draw upon to this day. Certainly, we know the heritage of the African runners who dominate everything from sprints to distances. And yet they do not dominate completely, as athletes from all over the world compete at their level.
This is the wondrousness of the human race. It is also one of the reasons it can be so beautiful to set a movie clip of running to music. Those athletes on the shore of the English coast in Chariots of Fire, with that iconic music playing in the background is certainly inspiring.
Perhaps you listen to music while running and find your own coast to romp in the surf. If so, you’re lucky. We don’t all get glamorous circumstances in which to train. But you can still find inspiration on your own city block, or traipsing through your local woods. Let a song enter your head. Let the music carry you along. Music matters. Sing your own song.