Thursday, 30 April 2009

26. 10 Songs for or about Small Children

Forever Young - Bob Dylan
Sarah - Thin Lizzy
Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby - Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss and Emmylou Harris
Rufus is a Tit man- Loudon Wainwright III
Beautiful Boy - John Lennon
We Almost Had a Baby - Emmy the Great
Baby Learns to Crawl - Paul Westerberg
Dear Prudence - The Beatles
Just the Two of Us - Will Smith
Kids (Rise from the Ashes) - Ed Harcourt

Everyone's having kids these days. I got my fourth nephew/niece this week so this is an apposite topic.
I was speaking recently to someone a generation or so up from me who described it as 'brave' of people to have children in this day of age of the world we live in. I said that I'm not sure bravery comes in to it and then we agreed that this wasn't necessarily a uniquely bleak time for humanity, as she and her generation had been born into a world of war, and previous generations had been born into times of plague, poverty and horror.
But still, bearing in mind the forecasts, one does hope for the best for those born now, that they have plenty of time to chill out and mess about and not have to do deal with too many cataclysms. 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy is a novel which deals with what the life of a child might be in the not-too-distant future.
I've begun to note that a lot of my verses have a some what apocalyptic feel to them, this one included. I suspect this is a sign of limited imagination. Funnily enough, it doesn't really preoccupy my thoughts. Mainly I think about the deeds of left-sided sportspeople and the end of the world doesn't really come into it. Maybe, in any case, the great left-sided sportspeople will save us all.

May the days of your life stretch the world's span
beyond the dire theories and predictions
of wise men and fools, their number growing,
who hold no hope for your generation.

May the hairs on your head keep on curling
and the smile on your face keep on widening
till you laugh at the fear and destruction
bound to disfigure the web of your days.

Let the notes that you take be of service
to you and all other folk around you.
Waste no thought on idle superstitions;
time is short - the mistakes made already.

Let your heart be open to adventure,
Grab the gifts that come your way with relish.
Stand in fear of man nor woman neither -
make your own place high on the ladder.

May each day of your life be a treasure
to the world that yet gives you its welcome.
As leaves fall, as lives pass, keep yourself strong
in the safety of love you were born to.

I think the 3rd line of the fourth verse is ungrammatical but i couldn't think of another way to do it as well.
I hope this generation gets their own Adam Gilchrists and Jimmy Whites and Rafael Nadals and David Gowers and Jonny Wilkinsons and Ryan Giggses and John McEnroes and Paolo Maldinis and Joe Calzaghes and Brian Laras.
I feel I should point out these are all left-sided sportspeople.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

25. 10 Songs about Heavenly Creatures and Celestial Bodies by Ash

Shining Light - Ash
Angel Interceptor - Ash
There's a Star - Ash
Starcrossed - Ash
Jesus Says - Ash
Jack Names the Planets - Ash
Aphrodite - Ash
Polaris -Ash
Girl frm Mars - Ash
Orpheus - Ash

And that's not to mention the b-sides.
It doesn't take too much familiarity with their work to notice that Ash have certain lyrical preoccupations - stars, planets, angels, deities, that kind of thing.
Ash aren't everyone's cup of tea, I know, and they even attract contempt in some circles, but I really think they're hugely underrated, and some of the things people slate them for are actually strengths. People talk about Tim Wheeler's thin voice and their immature song subjects, but for me their greatest moments lie in the expression of, and nostalgia for, a perennial adolescence, some attempt to articulate and recapture a golden moment in one's youth, and the voice is a part of that. Believe me, it sounds strong enough when you see them live.
I've seen them twice, and one of those, outside at Somerset House on the hottest day of the summer of 2003, was really one of the beautiful gigs of all time, a succession of sun-drenched hits, from Burn Baby Burn to Oh Yeah, Wild Surf (the sun, summer, beaches and surfing being Ash's other great lyrical preoccupation - Walking Barefoot, Orpheus, On a Wave, Oh Yeah, Pacific Palisades etc), Envy, A Life Less Ordinary, Kung Fu, every one a stunner.
A way to sum up Ash's milieu is a combination of Star Wars and The Beach Boys - now I'm not saying these are things to live your life by, (in fact you might suggest that they are linked by breathtaking technical accomplishment being allied to a determinedly childish world view) but it's a pretty great combination if you're in the mood.
They've gone off the boil a couple of times, I accept, and one wonders, as they enter their thirties, if they'll still be able to work credibly within their limited oeuvre, but 1977 and in particular Free All Angels are near-perfect albums. The latter, I think, tops everything else by any of the Britpop generation bands - to some, not a great claim, I accept.
Stargazing's a rare thing for us city folk, and I'd be lying if I said I missed it particularly - the universe is big but once you decide that most of that bigness doesn't apply to you at all, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied on ground level.
However, it is a pretty picture when it's the right night and you're far enough out of town - it never ceases to amaze how many more little dots you can pick out the more and more your eyes adjust to the blackness.

I blinked; they say a shooting star
flashed 'cross the autumn sky.
Time was I saw nine a night -
wouldn't it be nice?

Say it's a satellite,
you see them all the time
but I'm blinking all the time
hiding from the light.
Say it would be nice
and it would be great
a sheet of stars for blackest night
and creeping through the meanest streets
and stumbling through the baddest lands
all these dark nights of the soul
never figured in my plans.

I think I saw a shooting star
tumbling 'cross the awesome sky.
I could be wrong, I'm usually wrong
but wouldn't it be time?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

23. 10 Songs about New York and 24. 10 Songs for the Celtic Diaspora

I've put these two together, because, as you will see, they are linked together fairly closely in how I've approached them

10 Songs about New York

Myriad Harbour - New Pornographers
New York City Cops - The Strokes
Waiting for the Man - Velvet Underground
Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters - Elton John
NYC - Interpol
Across 110th Street - Bobby Womack
Spanish Harlem Incident - Bob Dylan
The Only Living Boy in New York - Simon and Garfunkel
Chelsea Hotel No 2 - Leonard Cohen
Rapture - Blondie

So these are the ten songs I've chosen about New York, though there are, of course, literally 100s and 100s to choose from, and some of them the finest songs in all popular music. I've tried to go for a fairly varied selection, which give a feel of the city and bring to mind specific places.
Not that I really know. I only went there once, and spent a frenetic fortnight trying to see every inch of the city I possibly could.
Not only do you get two lists for the price of one here, but within this first list you get two verses for the price of one (hurray) both brief, one about one of New York's finest, who is on the list above, one about the city itself.

Here's the first.

Deborah Harry: embarrassing granny
or the coolest fucker in the world?
I choose the latter - 63 year-old rapper.
There's still no topping the Sunday Girl.

Quite some life Debbie Harry has led. You don't meet many people who don't like Blondie at least a bit but I know one or two, and that did lead me to pause for thought before embracing the spectacle of seeing them doing Rapture in London and at Latitude a couple of years ago. Cool? Ridiculous?

Here's the second - you could call it Netherland if you were being a bit too clever

This isn't what I expected - first thing that I saw
from the back of a yellow cab, driving through Brooklyn
was cricket. And have I missed something or is
everywhere uptown these days? I'm not complaining
like I'm not complaining that my seaside town hunch
will have no use. This sure ain't Bob Dylan's New York

Oh so neatly, mention of Bob Dylan leads into my next post

10 Songs for the Celtic Diaspora

Letter from America - The Proclaimers
My National Pride - Dexys Midnight Runners
Sally MacLennane - The Pogues
Madame George - Van Morrison
Irish Blood, English Heart - Morrissey
The Parting Glass - The Clancy Brothers
Let's Get out of this Country - Camera Obscura
Shipping up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues
Apple of my Eye- Damien Dempsey

The Celtic Diaspora, of course, encompasses a pretty large chunk of the population of the Western world, from Sydney to Ealing to Boston to New York. Letter from America is a particularly awesome song for the Scottish overseas, and I love the way it's what Declan sings drunk at a wedding at the start of 'The Commitments' which Jimmy says is 'something approximating music' - The Commitments, of course, is a film about soul music, and they sing and play American soul music, rather than the more limited genre of Celtic Soul, which has a line from Van Morrison to Dexys across to the Proclaimers ... and not that much else. Limited it may be, but if you are one of those strong devoted to Dexys Midnight Runners in particular, it is worth the effort.
Anyway, what's Bob Dylan got to do this, you've no doubt forgotten to ask? Well, as indicated above, the New York in my head was Bob Dylan's New York, of his early songs, of his Chronicles, of Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, where, on cold, bleak(er) streets, he learnt his art in various dives, from folk/blues singers of various traditions, whether the Irish folk of The Clancy Brothers or the Blues/Protest songs of Odetta.
I went to a Bob Dylan tribute a few years back. It was a real fun event, and the stars of the show were without doubt the garrulous Liam Clancy, of whom Bob Dylan has said "I never heard a singer as good as Liam. He was just the best ballad singer I heard in my life' and the frail Odetta Holmes, of whom Bob Dylan said "the first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta". Of all the music I have ever seen in my whole life, there has never been, and will never be, anything as moving as Odetta, shrunken and barely able to stand, holding the crowd utterly enthralled for the 10 minutes of her version of Mr.Tambourine Man with the strongest, boldest voice you ever heard. It was a real privilege.
Odetta died last year, a few weeks before Obama's inauguration, which she had hoped to perform at.
Anyway, the event (not her death, but the concert at the Barbican) prompted this reaction from me, called

LIAM & ODETTA (not unreasonably)

In the back room in the White Horse Tavern
One parting glass to toast days of the past
the fetid air filled with rebel songs, fervent
desires that the best days will forever last.

In your unfurnished flat off Harrowby Street,
we soaked up your folk songs from a world we didn't know
Tommy Makem, Liam Clancy, low, bold and sweet
children's songs, rebel songs, strong, proud and slow.

She had Odetta, you had Liam Clancy
but those were the days and they didn't last forever
though last night, my eyes saw the sweetest surprise
Odetta and Liam Clancy were back together.

She had Odetta, you had Liam Clancy
and I've got Bob Dylan at the centre of all
from strange fruit hanging to blowing in the wind
from the White Horse Tavern to the Barbican Hall.

These rebel songs, Paddy, they will not accept
the lot they've been given, beaten and bowed.
What's happened to us all, Dad, what happened to you?
Where's your rebel song now, where's my rebel song now?

A billion exile hearts keep on fighting
to find a solution, a direction home,
So where's the fight now, the will to escape
from the fate of the unmourned, incomplete unknown?

She knew enough and she loved Odetta
She knew enough to go where she needed
History's given a million clear warnings
but I ain't got the rebel heart to heed it.

Liam led us in Those Were The Days
but, fuck, I'm still young, it's not yet my time
to give up on the present and cry for the past
So I'll bid farewell and move on down the line

So, there we go, Bob Dylan at the centre of all, again. I think I include too many swear words. There's really no need for it.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

22. 10 Songs about the Circus and Clowns

Send in the Clowns - Frank Sinatra
Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite - The Beatles
Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine
Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Acrobat - Maximo Park
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
Cathy's Clown - The Everly Brothers
Walking on a Wire (or The Great Valerio) - Richard and Linda Thompson
Clowns - Goldfrapp
My Wandering Days are Over - Belle and Sebastian (or The Circus is Leaving Town - Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan)

Perhaps Mr Frith might hope for Circus by Erasure, but, you know, I listened to it and I didn't like it like i remember liking it when i was a kid. And Emmy the Great has a song called Secret Circus, but it's just about my least favourite song of hers.

My favourite song for years was Like a Rolling Stone, and my favourite bit in it was 'You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you, You never understood that it ain't no good, you shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you' as my school yearbook page attests. I was just rather dazzled by the wordplay. It's not really a song about clowns. Also on Bob Dylan, he once described Smokey Robinson as America's Greatest Living Poet, something I don't really see. Tears of a Clown contains the line 'Just like Pagliacci did, I try to keep my surface hid', Pagliacci being a famous opera about clowns, or a famous real clown, or something. That gets called a great line, but I think it's a wee bit forced.

Clowns as something sinister, or sad, in films is quite a hackneyed device, from Brassed Off to Octopussy, and I suppose it is in songs too, though Sufjan Stevens' 'John Wayne Gacy' still maintains the capacity to shock with the line "he dressed up like a clown for them". That's a great song. Also a great song is 'Send in the Clowns'. That's on the original 100 list which kicked off this godforsaken blog, isn't it?

Here is a brief thing called


Face not fitting shoes,
it's not so easy being
crazy for Jesus.

I've actually seen this Holy Fool, an ordained minister who goes round doing clown shows with an allegorical bent. I saw it when I was a teenager. It was rather a beautiful thing.
You got to be crazy to be for Jesus these days, eh ...

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

21. 10 Elemental Songs

Helium Hearts - Super Furry Animals
Oxygen - Willie Mason
Gold - Spandau Ballet
Iron Lion Zion - Bob Marley & the Wailers
Lithium -Nirvana
Fire - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
Carbon Dioxide - Regina Spektor
Solid Air - John Martyn
Fire and Rain - James Taylor

Bit of a cheat this one, as I've clearly drawn on different interpretations of what elements are to create this. I'm really thinking about the Four Original Elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, hence the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and his like, but I couldn't resist a few songs with a chemical element feel. So we end up with a bit of an unhappy compromise.
I think, ahem, it was, was it not, DH, was it not DH Lawrence who said

Why don't people leave off being lovable
Or thinking they are lovable, or wanting to be lovable,
and be a bit elemental instead?

Since man is made up of the elements,
Fire, and rain, and air, and live loam
And none of these is lovable
but elemental,
Man is lop-sided on the side of the angels.

I wish man would get back their balance among the elements
And be a bit more fiery, as incapable of telling lies
as fire is.
I wish man would be true to their own variation, as water is,
which goes through all the stages of steam and stream and ice
Without losing its head.

I am sick of lovable people.
Somehow they are a lie.

Not my words, not my words, ladies and gentlemen, but the words of one DH Lawrence. Fine words, fine words. Was it not Bob, was it not one Bob Dylan, who sang of his mythical love that "she doesn't have to say she's faithful, but she's true like ice, like fire". That's pretty true.

So, elemental? But how hard it is to be elemental, now we've learnt so thoroughly not to be.
And how hard to be at one with nature, when we have barely no contact with anything that is not in some way manufactured.

The only thing elemental about me is my god damn rhyming scheme

I'm no longer in the elements
I no longer smell the air
and the wind brings me no sorrows
and the rain brings me no care
And the elements have no power
to twist fortune everywhere
And the stars do not redeem me
They may as well not be there

Jesus hides not in my details
there's no spirit in my charts
I'm a careless statistician
no sharp master of the arts
Christ bears me not on his shoulders
when the darkness shrouds my heart
In the bargain with my demons
I look after my own part.

There's no charity in my pupils
I'll neither give nor take away
I'll no guilt feel for my hardness
I grew tired to live that way
There's no debit on my statements,
no debt conscience bids me pay
Horror brings just mild discomfort
Genocide makes no dismay

I'm no longer with the living
in the senses I ought to be
Passions weight not on my footsteps,
but a distant memory
I no longer fear the elements,
Nothing means a thing to me.
Storm is over, sun is sunken,
Of all feeling, I am free.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

20. 10 Songs about the Neighbourhood

1. Round Are Way - Oasis
2. Penny Lane - The Beatles
3. Two Doors Down - Mystery Jets
4. My Hometown - Bruce Springsteen
5. Stereotypes - Blur
6. Your Own Backyard - Dion
7. Stanley Road - Paul Weller
8. The Street Where You Live - from 'My Fair Lady'
9. Local Boy in the Photograph - Stereophonics
10. Screen Door - Uncle Tupelo

Yes, of course I could have included 'Neighbourhood' by Space, but, really, how low do you want me to go?
The theme from Neighbours was a more realistic option. It's true, after all, that just a friendly wave each morning helps to make a better day. That being so, I can only look at my recent attitude to my neighbours and despair. I think, with each different neighbour, I've become increasingly entrenched and insular - perhaps it reflects the erosion of society and community precipitated by Margaret Thatcher. I've gone from the golden childhood idyll of our first neighbours the Hymases, who i practically felt we shared house and garden with, to the suspicious and furtive way I look at my recent neighbours in South London, via kindly old women who always throw back your tennis ball, Kenyan farmers and their children always hanging round looking for biscuits, weird Scottish drunks and their insane cats, dull students gatecrashing parties, young professionals I could barely muster a smile for. What remains true is that we love to make up stories about our neighbours, imagine their lives, their thoughts.
I actually quite like the neighbourhood i live now - it feels more like a genuine community than a lot of parts of South London. The different strata of life seem to co-exist pretty happily round here, the newsagents are friendly, the walk home from the tube late at night doesn't feel like a gauntlet, even if local character Mental Steve is being particularly mental, the curry places recognise my face, the kids pouring out of the local school every day scream and shout at each other, occasionally annoying but never intimidating, the cars crash every month or so at the dodgy junction, the joggers churn round Clapham Common, but a) i lack the basic warmth to actually befriend people and b) the ones that piss me off are the ones in the posh flats, playing rubbish music, the kind of rubbish I play to them -for these surely are my clientele, at the quizzes i run. There's really nothing to it, though occasionally i build it up into a feeling of alienation and grand contempt. Hence

The balcony of the opposite flat
is full of city drinkers,
Blaring out the standard tracks
and shaking up the neighbours
But anger is so awkward
now that language is so loose.
The truth is that the best you
can do is keep your cool.

The punch is late in coming -
eyes have gone on elsewhere.
Some sing along distracted,
of course the words are threadbare
and I know no one else knows
as many words as I
But the feints that duck the truths
validate those lies.

I know the city drinks us dry
of sanctity and solace.
Profanity's my currency
in common with the godless.
The sea wind blessed my thoughts -
perhaps it will again
one day when the punches
have all been thrown in vain.

Mercury rises just as seldom
as it falls in these parts -
anger is as futile as staking
all on charts and graphs.
I could stare you out forever
if I could hold your gaze
for even one tender fragile second
of one of those rare mercury days.

Across the street, some city killers
no doubt confront their demons.
Let them. I won't fight a thing, though,
except overwrought feelings
'cause anger is so awkward, while
resignation is so solid
though neither has an answer to
the emptiness that follows.

Monday, 13 April 2009

19. 10 Songs about Birds

Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Iron and Wine
Hummingbird - Wilco
Birds - Neil Young
And Your Bird Can Sing or Blackbird - The Beatles
I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams
Love minus Zero/No Limit - Bob Dylan
Black-winged Bird - The Cake Sale
Bird on a Wire - Leonard Cohen
The Birds Will Sing For Us - Ed Harcourt
Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants

There's something running through American music about ravens, I think with Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven' as its starting point. The NFL team The Baltimore Ravens have three mascots, called Edgar, Allen and Poe.
I can't, in truth, say I'm wild about birds. I couldn't tell many from another, and I never watch nature programmes on TV.
When I was running on Clapham Common, I was listening to Roots Manuva's song 'Stone the Crows' and I was repeatedly divebombed by a crow. That's my best story about birds.
Some of them are scary bastards.

A sickly sun leans on the city's
suited heroes stuck picking up
old coins on pavements long discarded.
I'm squinting, out for new ideas
but the same unconnected numbers
invade and keep me up all night.

One swallow, that's all I ask for,
one swallow on a damaged statue
to ease me to untroubled sleep.
One kingfisher, whatever it loooks like
on a mercury day in the last good
summer of your last good century.

I'm sorry I ever envied you, now
you're scared to meet the crow's challenge
as you make your vain heavy steps,
buying time and imagining traps -
this common land serves as prison to your
ridiculous dreams of big numbers.

On the island, you say you heard
the city swan sing his final song and,
these times, I can't but be relieved that
My headphones, deep down in my ears
play the country soul music too loud
to hear a thing but numbers running.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

18. 10 Songs about Killings

The Mercy Seat - Johnny Cash
Stagger Lee - Nick Cave
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll - Bob Dylan
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine - The Killers
Jack Killed Mom - Jenny Lewis
John Wayne Gacy - Sufjan Stevens
Switching Off - Elbow
Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do - Goldie Lookin' Chain
Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen
Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine

Of course, Cave, Cash and Dylan have killing songs coming out of their paws, but I limited myself to one each of them - though the Cash one is Cave too in this case.

I rather wish I'd been able to find more songs about Death Row and the American fetishisation of serial killers, as that is what was on my mind, but whether I didn't look that hard, I didn't find that many suitable songs, although films like that are innumerable.

Apparently, Debbie Harry managed to escape becoming a victim of the serial killer Ted Bundy, when she got in his car, realised there was something funny about it, and managed to break her way out of it. There isn't, funnily enough, a Blondie song which makes explicit reference to this.

Anyway, executions ... really awful. The one in Monster's Ball is what sticks in my mind. It's P. Diddy, for a start, but it captures the shift from banality to the realisation of what the prisoner, the prison guards and the observers are all about to go through.

Shut my eyes and push me over,
I'm bored already of greys and blues.
I'm bad and ready for every last flower
I can't smell, each hour I can't misuse.

Close the sky and open the heavens,
Wrap me up, I hope it's summer.
Don't say a word, now, any misgivings
you feel you owe only make this harder.

Spin it out if that's your pleasure,
I won't respond, all senses deadened.
Switch me off and push me under,
Close my eyes and open the heavens.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

17. 10 Fun Songs by Punters who Got Lucky

Mr Brightside - The Killers
Like a Prayer - Madonna
Unbelievable -EMF
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
One - U2
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire
Runaway Train - Soul Asylum
Pretty Vacant - Sex Pistols
Wires - Athlete
Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio

The above lunks are basically useless, but fate smiled upon them just the once to produce a song of considerable quality.
There are many, many examples of this through music, where someone with no consistent quality hits upon something magical briefly, and in many cases they kid people that their other stuff is good too, and build a critical and commercial career out of it.

It makes me cross. Kind of.

And also there's the fact that when we get snobby and say songs like 'My Heart Will Go On' or You're Beautiful' are cynical cack with no true beauty to them, we ignore the fact that actual people, and probably not bad people, have them at their actual weddings and actual funerals, and they actually mean more, deep down in a real way, to more people than have ever even heard all the songs we actually think are great.

I wrote this ages ago, before I cared if rhymes were silly if they were funny.

There are some who're in line for
what they don't have the time for -
overgrown children with golden tongues
hawking their wears where
ever they dare fare
lying with every last note in their lungs

And sometimes I'm triggered
by such lumpen figures
to see my search for all beauty as finished
and often it chills me
that it slightly thrills me
to see any honest beauty diminished

There are days when i feel like
I'm so down at heel I
can hardly lift my foot to kick out
There are sorry excuses
I'd use to confuse you if
these sorest of thumbs began to stick out.

There are lines in some songs which
always give me a strong itch
to cut off my fingers and write no more -
for sweet or for sad times
it's often the bad lines
which bare our souls and bite at our core

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

16. 10 Songs You Can Listen To While You're Running

The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner - Belle and Sebastian
Roadrunner (Once) - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Keep on Running - Spencer Davis Group
Run for Me - Richard Hawley
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
No Distance Left to Run - Blur
Run Run Run - The Velvet Underground
Run - Snow Patrol
Running Girl - Ooberman
Run - Stephen Fretwell

People run for different reasons. I'm not really sure why I run. To not get fat. To take a break from work. To still feel young. To be able to run faster. Those are some reasons some people run. I did a lot of running last year, always listening to music, culminating in a somewhat disastrous Chicago Marathon in 30 degrees - and not listening to music. My running was shortly after that curtailed by a broken leg, but the second half of the marathon was way more ghastly and unbearable than breaking my leg.

I was fast in the months before the marathon. Fast and mildly obsessive about getting faster. Now i'm getting back to my running after breaking my leg, even after a month, I'm still straining every sinew in my body to run significantly slower than I could run 6 months ago without even drawing breath. But it feels great to be running again. And truthfully, one of the main reasons I run is because if you're listening to the right song on the right day, running at the right speed, it is a marvellous marvellous feeling. These are good running songs, i guess, though a bit pun-based.

Songs I really like to run to are Sons and Daughters by The Decemberists and You Got Your Cherry Bomb by Spoon.

Some people say running is a really good time to chew over thoughts and make decisions. Haruki Murakami has written a book (which I've only read snatches of) called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Well to take off that in a haiku style

What I think about,
if I think, when I'm running,
is running. Running