Mixes: Speedy (1 hour)

Lately I’ve gotten sick of the same old playlists or listening to albums with spotty quality. So I’ve made it a goal to put together at least one or two new music mixes a week to get me through summer/fall training.

Here’s the first one. This features some faster tracks, which I’ll use for anything tempo-y. This list provides exactly one hour of music. Heck, I can do anything for an hour, especially if I’ve got some good tunes playing in the background.

Speedy: 1 Hour

No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
Switch On – Paul Oakenfold
Problem Child – AC/DC
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
The Silence Between Us – Bob Mould
Run Baby Run – Garbage
21st Century Breakdown – Green Day
Barracuda – Heart
Is It Any Wonder? – Keane
The Lovers Are Losing – Keane
Human – The Killers
Celebrity Skin – Hole
Same Old Drag – Apples in Stereo
The Laws Have Changed – The New Pornographers
Dress Like Your Mother – Sleeper
Cannonball – The Breeders

Winter Basebuilding: Week 9

09spr-base-09Just nine short weeks ago I was 80 pounds overweight, battling high blood pressure, impotence and halitosis — and look at me now!

Okay — none of that is true. But I was certainly not as fit as I am today. I was also a coaching ingenue, a wee runner wet behind the ears, a doe-eyed street urchin in a poorly state and desperately in need of guidance.

This morning I took my resting heart rate and — get out of town! — it was a mere 42. In most hospitals and doctor’s offices in this country, that would indicate a serious medical issue. Couple that with this morning’s blood pressure reading of 103 over 68 and I’d be declared legally dead in most American medical circles.

The last time I had a checkup, around three years ago, I’d just started racing. But after a few years of running, I already had award-winning cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. I’ve decided that I’ll go for another workup in two or three months, when I’ve got more strenuous training under my belt. Just to see how much more of a superwoman I’ve become.

Anyway, on to the week’s report. Like last week, the target was 90 miles, which I was just a bit shy of owing to a long run today that was a half mile short (I had a mild  brain fart while figuring out the route en route). I was trapped inside on the treadmill Monday through Friday. It was just too treacherous to try to run outside, and there was no way I’d be able to come close to the speedier times I needed to hit. So I suffered inside.

Things went pretty well overall. I managed 25 minutes at tempo-y pace on Tuesday, although it was a bit slower than I wanted. I think I was still tired from last Sunday’s long run opus. I took all the recovery runs nice and slow so I could put out a good effort on Friday. In contrast to Tuesday, Friday’s speedier bits felt too easy. But I suspect that’s because I was comparing the effort of running at a 7:00ish minute mile for 150 seconds to running at the same speed for 25 long minutes. Since the first few felt so easy, I ran the remaining ones 10-15 seconds faster. Because I am an overachiever.

I took Saturday’s recovery run outside and awoke this morning to more Nightmare in New England weather: yet more snow, coming down like gangbusters this morning. After employing every possible delay tactic, I managed to finally drag myself out the door at close to 10AM. Much later than I wanted to start, but I went to bed at midnight (since The Dark Knight was so freaking — and unnecessarily — long).

I had a bad feeling about the running path, so I drove up to Scarsdale, resigned to the prospect of running my 6ish mile residential loop multiple times. The first couple of miles sucked, frankly, because they hadn’t been plowed. This surprised me, since I was running on a major roadway. I had no traction and was putting out quite a bit of effort for a 9:30 pace. I decided I’d run the whole loop at least once. If it was going to be such arduous going for the whole way, I’d bag the remaining loops and finish up the remaining 14 at home on the treadmill.

Fortunately, other roads were salted and plowed. It was still slushy, icy going, but as the weather warmed up and the salters and plowers did their work, conditions improved, as did my pace. I ended up with 19.5 miles at an average pace of around 8:30, which really is not bad considering the crap I was running in.

It was tiring work, but I enjoyed it. My feet were wet and I was hungry enough to eat the steering wheel by the time I got back to the car, but I’m glad I made the effort to run this one outside. A bonus was running into Jonathan in White Plains as he did his own 16 mile penance today. He gave me a great compliment after we got home. He said he spotted me and thought, “Hey, there’s a real runner out here.” By that he meant I didn’t look like a hobby jogger. I had good form, a runner’s body and I was moving fast. Then he recognized me as the nice woman who provides hot tea and pancakes on Sundays and I can only hope that this was also a bonus for him.

My company on the run consisted of The Mamas & The Papas, Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach and Edvard Grieg’s Greatest Hits (really — that was the name of the album!). I forgot how well produced the TM&TP’s stuff is. Plus it was recorded way back before Auto-Tune started making everyone sound like a singing robot. Singers had to actually be able to sing properly; you know, “carry a tune”?

The Yo-Yo Ma Bach recording (it’s his famous 80s album of unaccompanied pieces) was good for about 20 minutes and then everything started to sound exactly the same, always a danger with anything Baroque. I found myself wondering if anyone ever actually listens to the entire 2-disc set. I moved on to the Romantic period and finished up with Grieg and, man, could that guy write a tune. It was perfect music for a wintry run and I knew I’d made the right choice when I ran by a mansion in Scarsdale with a huge Norwegian flag hanging over the entrance; in the hall of the mountain king, indeed.

Tomorrow kicks off the first week of training proper. It’s not terribly different than what I’ve been doing except now there are actual times/paces attached to the faster workouts. Squee!

Music for a long, fast run

When I’m faced with the prospect of having to suffer through a fast run that will take me in the neighborhood of three hours to complete, I look to my MP3 player for distraction. Nay, inspiration! And, since I have to run fast, podcasts and audiobooks don’t cut it. No, I need the loudest, most testosterone-fueled sonic bombast that I can get my hands on.

Here is what I listened to on this morning’s run:

1. The Thousand Names Of God – Motorhead
2. Anarchy In The U.K. – The Sex Pistols
3. God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols
4. Holidays In The Sun – The Sex Pistols
5. Bodies – The Sex Pistols
6. No Feelings – The Sex Pistols
7. Liar! – The Sex Pistols
8. Problems – The Sex Pistols
9. Seventeen – The Sex Pistols
10. Submission – The Sex Pistols
11. Pretty Vacant – The Sex Pistols
12. New York – The Sex Pistols
13. EMI – The Sex Pistols
14. Bonzo Goes To Bitburg – The Ramones
15. Going Underground – The Jam
16. That’s Entertainment – The Jam
17. 20th Century Boy – T. Rex
18. Crown Of Thorns – Social Distortion
19. Cold Feelings – Social Distortion
20. When The Angels Sing – Social Distortion
21. I Was Wrong – Social Distortion
22. Ring Of Fire – Social Distortion
23. Soul Kitchen – X
24. White Girl (Single Mix) – X
25. Los Angeles – X
26. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
27. The Bell And The Butterfly – Charlatans U.K.
28. Around The World / Harder Better Faster Stronger – Daft Punk
29. Superheroes / Human After All / Rock’n Roll – Daft Punk
30. Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage
31. When I Grow Up – Garbage
32. Special – Garbage
33. Vow – Garbage
34. Celebrity Skin – Hole
35. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
36. North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem
37. That’s How People Grow Up – Morrissey
38. The Hand That Feeds – Nine Inch Nails
39. It’s My Life – No Doubt
40. Switch On – Paul Oakenfold
41. Think Tank – Public Image Ltd.
42. Dear Lover – Social Distortion
43. Untitled – Social Distortion
44. More Human Than Human – (Meet Bambi In The King’s Harem mix) – White Zombie
45. Problem Child – AC/DC
46. Get It Hot – AC/DC
47. Touch Too Much – AC/DC
48. Girls Got Rhythm – AC/DC
49. Highway To Hell – AC/DC
50. High Voltage – AC/DC
51. Back in Black – AC/DC
52. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

Lots of odd choices for a post-modern feminist like myself. But I guess that’s what makes me post modern.

I should add that “You Shook Me All Night Long” is my favorite running “power song.” I also hold the sincere opinion that it is one of the greatest musical recordings ever produced.

Fall Training: Week 8

Week one of my “build” period of basebuilding went off with a bang — and ended with a milestone: I ran just under 97 miles this week, which is the most I’ve run in a week. Ever.

There was a lot of variety this week, with no less than four quality sessions* including an experiment with a relatively unsung method for improving VO2 max (more below). I also did two harder workouts back to back on Tue/Wed, just to see how I’d feel later in the week.

I know this week’s cumulative mileage, combined with some harder workouts (and the back-to-back sessions), was enough to facilitate some adaptation because I had two incidences of the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) late in the week, back to back (surprise, surprise). This happened in the early days of hard training for my spring race, but it eventually went away, so I’m not worried about it. Unfortunately, it always seems to strike in the dead of the night, which totally disrupts my sleep cycle. It’s annoying, but I’m not annoyed enough to shift my harder runs to late in the day.

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 11.8 miles easy pace with speed intervals on the track
  • Wednesday: 15.2 mile long run (steady pace)
  • Thursday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.2 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 10.1 miles easy pace with Billat surges (AM); 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 6.2 miles recovery pace (AM); 6.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 20 mile long run with 4 miles at marathon pace

Total mileage: 96.8 miles

Paces this week:

  • Recovery: 9:10 – 10:33
  • Intervals: 6:46 – 7:02
  • Easy: 8:02 – 8:58
  • Long: 8:32
  • Marathon pace: 7:25

Although I’m much better acclimated to the heat and humidity (and it was bad early in the week), my reaction to it seems very inconsistent. For example, on Tuesday I really struggled with doing intervals (1200m), when the temp was 75 and the humidity 85%. I’d planned to do 4-5 at 4:55-5:10 each, but ended up doing 3, dropping the workout when I had legs of lead midway through the 4th. It was quite uncomfortable running in the heat, and a brisk wind of around 10mph on the backstretch was also a factor.

The combined heat and humidity was even worse on Wednesday (same temp, but 87% humidity), yet I managed to run an 8:32 pace over 15 miles (less than 24 hours after speedwork, no less), with no water stops. I’ve always been better at long running, but I was very surprised by how easy the run was, and even pleasant at times. It was so bad out that I could actually wring sweat out of my shirt when I got home.

On Friday I did an easy run over 10 miles and threw in something I’d like to experiment with: I call them “Billat surges” (maybe other people do too, but if they do I’m not aware of it). What are Billat surges? They are a series of surges of faster running at V02 max, broken up with recoveries of equal time length at 50% of V02 max. They are based on several studies by French researcher (and 1:18 half marathoner) Veronique Billat. Information here and here.

In my case, this worked out to running for 30 seconds at around 6:20 per mile pace, followed by 30 seconds at 9:30 pace. It’s a great idea, but unfortunately my execution was lousy. I attempted to do this along Pipeline Road, a long, unsidewalked stretch of road that runs between Scarsdale and Hartsdale train stations (and the only way to get from the south to the north paved pedestrian path). It was rush hour (which means lots of crazed SUV drivers who can’t be bothered to slow down and move over 12 inches to keep from killing me) plus there was construction going on, so it was pretty chaotic.

Also, I’ve discovered that the Garmin takes just about 30 seconds to figure out what pace you’re running, so it’s very difficult to know if you’re going too slow, too fast or just right. The result was a series of 12 on/offs at anywhere from 5:55 to 6:45 pace for the “on”s. Not exactly on target. I want to incorporate these workouts into fall race training, so I’ll probably end up going to the track and doing them there, where I can put down some sort of markers for distance and just use the watch as stopwatch.

The muscle soreness appeared at 3:00AM on Friday night and then again, like clockwork, at 3:00 AM again last night. So I’ve gotten around 11 hours of sleep between those two nights. And yet, despite that, I felt pretty good this morning. Good enough to do a 20 miler inside on the treadmill with miles 16 through 19 at a pace equivalent to a 3:15 marathon (7:27ish — nothing’s exact on the treadmill).

I started this training cycle two months ago at 3:18 paces and guessed that I could move down to 3:15 at this point. Now I’m thinking I should move down further, since my heart rate for the marathon pace miles was between 81-84%. Pretty low effort. So I’ll start training (at least inside, where it’s not insanely hot) at 3:12-3:13 paces for the next few weeks as I attempt to work my way down to 3:08 training paces for October.

My, how the mind wanders while running 20 miles inside. Over the years, when trapped in a tedious environment, I’ve made up a little mental game of thinking up names for nonexistent rock bands (here are three: Girl in Trouble, Shudder To Think and Gay Baby). I thought up a good one for a band consisting of runners today: Cardiac Creep.

To further fill the three hours of tedium in my little room of torture, I listened to a newish mix of mp3s while watching parts of various movies. If you’ve never combined random music as background to popular movies, it’s time you tried. You could probably skip the next Whitney Biennial because you will hit on something approaching art, since wildly incongruous pairings of musical and cinematic artistic expression can result. Some of the odd (and, I suppose, ironic) pairings this morning included:

  • “Let The Good Times Roll” (The Cars) playing behind a scene from “Cape Fear” (the remake) in which Robert DeNiro takes a chunk out of poor Ileana Douglas‘ cheek with his bare teeth.
  • “More Human Than Human” (White Zombie) playing behind a scene of Edward Norton getting the crap beaten out of him in “Fight Club”.
  • “Highway To Hell” (AC/DC) playing behind a scene of Molly Ringwald sewing what looks like a pink potato sack prom frock in “Pretty In Pink”.

What else is there to say? I’m a strange person.

Coming up in Fall Training Week 9: I hold the pace at 97 miles, but with a little less intensity. I’ll do another attempt at the Billat surges, another set of hill repeats, and a little more marathon pace running. All capped by the first 22 miler in about four months. This is assuming my legs don’t explode in the middle of the night first.

*Probably too many. But, hey, I’m excited.

Track Tracks: The December Mixes

One reason that I so enjoy my long runs and recovery runs is that it gives me a chance to listen to some music with very little distraction. And an MP3 player is a sanity saver when you’re stuck inside on a treadmill running for 3 hours.

I spent my “couch recovery time” yesterday putting together some mixes for these runs. I figure I’ll rotate these until I get tired of them, then make up some new ones in January. And repeat.

The key with these mixes is to keep my legs moving on the Easy/Long runs — and have something uptempo for the 10 very fast “striders” (quick sprints of about a hundred yards) that I need to do during the Easy runs.

And I always, always, always run the Recovery runs too fast. So I need music that would be suitable for a lobotomy. I’ve picked the softest, calmest, slowest stuff I could think of.

Easy/Long Run Mixes

Mix 1 (2 hours)
1. It Won’t Be Long – Alison Moyet
2. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
3. It Ended On An Oily Stage – British Sea Power
4. Judas – Charlatans U.K.
5. The Bell And The Butterfly – Charlatans U.K.
6. Television Rules The Nation / Crescendolls – Daft Punk
7. Girls Talk (LP Version) – Dave Edmunds
8. Soul Meets Body – Death Cab For Cutie
9. Kashmir – Dread Zeppelin
10. A Little Respect – Erasure
11. Transmission – Gay Dad
12. Harder Faster – Gay Dad
13. Celebrity Skin – Hole
14. Directions – Josh Rouse
15. Little Favours – KT Tunstall
16. Wonders Never Cease – Morcheeba
17. Saddest Quo – Pernice Brothers
18. Last Post on the Bugle – The Libertines
19. Human – Pretenders
20. Lola Stars and Stripes – The Stills
21. Gender Bombs – The Stills
22. 12:51 – The Strokes
23. You Only Live Once – The Strokes
24. New Star In The Sky – Air
25. Space Maker – Air
26. Playground Love – Air
27. Fort Knox, King Solomon – Bob Mould
Playlist on Rhapsody

Mix 2 (2 hours)
1. Shallow End – Morcheeba
2. Wonders Never Cease – Morcheeba
3. Let Me See – Morcheeba
4. If Everybody Looked The Same – Groove Armada
5. Black & White New York – Tommy Keene
6. Alta Loma – Tommy Keene
7. Chorus – Erasure
8. Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels) – Jim Croce
9. Heart – Peggy Lee
10. Sunny – Ella Fitzgerald
11. High Time – Michael Penn
12. Wild Things Run Fast – Joni Mitchell
13. Disappear – Blake Babies
14. Picture Perfect – Blake Babies
15. Popstar – Pretenders
16. Big Sur – The Thrills
17. Freetime – The Trashcan Sinatras
18. Prize Fighter – The Velvet Teen
19. Focus On Sight – Thievery Corporation
20. Warning Shots – Thievery Corporation
21. Currents – Tim Finn
22. Only A Fool Would Say That – Steely Dan
23. This Is How It Starts – Swell
24. Roam – The B-52′s
25. Good Morning Joan – The Cardigans
26. Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
27. This Year – The Mountain Goats
28. Here Comes Your Man – Pixies
29. People Have The Power – Patti Smith
30. Looking For You (I Was) – Patti Smith
31. She Heightened Everything – Pernice Brothers
Playlist on Rhapsody

Mix 3 (3 hours)
1. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend – The Ramones
2. Let It Blow – Richard Thompson
3. What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? – R.E.M.
4. 1979 – Smashing Pumpkins
5. Incinerate – Sonic Youth
6. Master of Disaster – John Hiatt
7. Is It Any Wonder? – Keane
8. Run Into Flowers – M83
9. Beachcombing – Mark Knopfler
10. The Distance Between – Marshall Crenshaw
11. A Part Of The Woods – Matt Pond PA
12. Please Don’t Touch – Motorhead
13. Soon – My Bloody Valentine
14. Bled White – Elliott Smith
15. You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
16. Cars – Gary Numan
17. Pathfinder – Gay Dad
18. Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s
19. Ooh La La (Benny Benassi Remix – Extended) – Goldfrapp
20. Indictment – Jawbreaker
21. Cold Hard Bitch – Jet
22. Dony – Big Star
23. Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) – David Bowie
24. Babylon – David Gray
25. Some Cities – Doves
26. Words – Doves
27. Turn To Stone – Electric Light Orchestra
28. Relative Ways – And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
29. Wake Up – Arcade Fire
30. Black Wave / Bad Vibrations – Arcade Fire
31. Born In The UK – Badly Drawn Boy
32. Aerodynamic Beats / Gabrielle , Forget About The World – Daft Punk
33. Charlie’s Angels 2000 – Apollo Four Forty
34. Fortress – Pinback
35. Discover a Lovelier You – Pernice Brothers
36. Right Here In Front Of Me – Marshall Crenshaw
37. Retour A Vega – The Stills
38. Red Vines – Aimee Mann
39. Lovefool – The Cardigans
40. Trap – The Cure
41. Cannonball (LP Version) – The Breeders
42. Master of Disaster – John Hiatt
43. I Want You Now – The Feeling
44. Rock Me – Liz Phair
45. Shake Your Coconuts – Junior Senior
Playlist on Rhapsody

Recovery Run Mixes

Mix 1 (1.2 hours)
1. Sexy Boy – Air
2. The Sea – Morcheeba
3. Aqualung – Morcheeba
4. Hands Of Time – Groove Armada
5. Suntoucher – Groove Armada
6. Edge Hill – Groove Armada
7. At The River – Groove Armada
8. Killing The Blues – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
9. Stick With Me Baby – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
10. The Pearl – Emmylou Harris
11. Come Rain Or Come Shine – Peggy Lee
12. Someone To Watch Over Me – Sarah Vaughn
13. Oxygen – Colbie Caillat
14. Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
15. Underachiever (LP Version) – Jill Sobule

Playlist on Rhapsody

Mix 2 (1.2 hours)
1. The General Specific (Album) – Band Of Horses
2. Roadmovies – Bettie Serveert
3. Brain-Tag – Bettie Serveert
4. Big Sur – The Thrills
5. In The Waiting Line – Zero 7
6. Finding You – The Go-Betweens
7. Architecture And Morality – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD)
8. Our Time Has Passed – Pernice Brothers
9. The End Of The Rainbow – Richard Thompson
10. Dimming Of The Day – Richard Thompson
11. It Takes You There – Rickie Lee Jones
12. Across The Borderline – Ry Cooder
13. Solid Air – John Martyn
14. Knock Yourself Out – Jon Brion
15. Toxic Girl – Kings Of Convenience
16. Swingset Chain – Loquat
17. Be Natural – Manic Street Preachers
18. She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
Playlist on Rhapsody

Mix 3 (1.3 hours)
1. Place To Be – Nick Drake
2. Which Will – Nick Drake
3. One Of These Things First – Nick Drake
4. Pink Moon – Nick Drake
5. Naked As We Came – Iron & Wine
6. Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley
7. Act of the Apostle – Belle and Sebastian
8. Thirteen – Big Star
9. Last Place – Broken Social Scene
10. Love And Mathematics – Broken Social Scene
11. Trapped Under Ice – Call And Response
12. Son-Of-A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
13. The Killing Moon – Echo and the Bunnymen
14. Independence Day – Elliott Smith
15. Island – Autour de Lucie
16. Nurture – LFO
17. Dirty Secret – Grant-Lee Phillips
18. Some Sweet Day – Sparklehorse
19. Silver Springs – Stevie Nicks
Playlist on Rhapsody

Mix 4 (1.2 hours)
1. Driving Sideways – Aimee Mann
2. You Do – Aimee Mann
3. Flying Cowboys – Rickie Lee Jones
4. 6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps
5. Pets – Porno for Pyros
6. Sick Day (LP Version) – Fountains of Wayne
7. Son Of A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
8. I’m Not In Love – 10cc
9. You’re Lost Little Girl – The Doors
10. Superstar – The Carpenters
11. Broken Places – Maggie & Terre Roche
12. Moonshadow – Cat Stevens
13. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case – Spoon
14. One Bright Summer Day – Yuji Oniki
15. Other Side Of The World – KT Tunstall
Playlist on Rhapsody

Track Tracks: Drastic Fantastic

An entire album this time: Drastic Fantastic by K.T. Tunstall. I’ve pretty much stopped listening to the radio, since it’s full of people who can’t sing to save their lives. Tunstall is the real deal: a girl with a great set of pipes — and she knows how to use them. She can belt, or hold back, be brassy, be velvety, or get dirty when required.

Tunstall rocks out on “Little Favours,” a deceptively simple song with a minor verse-to-major chorus groove. Good production and sweeping harmonies make this a pure pleasure. Then you’ve got a song like “Hopeless,” which sounds totally different, and has her transforming her voice to fit the song’s retro feel: suddenly she’s Shirley Bassey with a lovely little Dinah Washington trill at the end of her lines. But, wait…where’s that country and western vibe coming from? It all works.

“Someday Soon” is the big single from this album, but frankly, her record company could have found four or five songs to fly out there as singles.

This album is catchy, catchy, catchy. You want to listen to these tunes over again to hear those hooks. And you find yourself humming them hours later…

With so much garbage on the radio — mediocre songs sung badly — Tunstall is a refreshing find. And as a surprise bonus, she’s playing in NYC in November. For a mere $27.50, I’ll be there…

Track Track: Is It Any Wonder?

Imagine a world in the not-too-distant future. The members of U2 have all died, but have been cryogenically frozen. A nostalgic, mad Gen Xer scientist brings them back to life. And in the process, he leaves Bono in deep freeze (and who can blame him? He’s an insufferably pious blowhard). As a creative alternative, the scientist instead merges the DNA of Bono with Freddie Mercury to create a new, synthetic love child to serve as front man for the reanimated band, now called Keane.

They go into the studio and they record this song. But radio listeners everywhere ignore it, at their own musical peril, instead transfixed by another recording, “Somewhere Only We Know”. A song which, like aspartame, seems okay at first. But then it makes you go “blech.”

I adore this recording. It makes my hair stand on end. It’s a great “bad relationship” song. I feel like I can run 60 miles an hour when I’m playing it out on a run. The production is fabulous, with a distorted wah wah pedal setting the raw mood, and a bass bottom so big it could empty a pool.

Track Track: Mr. Tambourine Man

You probably think I’m going to write about the famous William Shatner cover of this tune. But it is not to be. I’m talking about a live version of this song, found on the album “The Byrds Play Dylan” (it’s track 18 on the 2002 reissue).

I was in a nostalgic mood last week and decided to download some dusty relics. I went with this album along with “The Best of Buffalo Springfield” to keep me company on a 7 miler.

So. Back to this particular recording. I have always enjoyed the trippy sound of The Byrds, with their tortured high harmonies and chiming Rickenbacker guitars. This live version of the Dylan classic (and one of the Byrds’ biggest hits) starts out normally enough. You hear the first few twangy notes, the audience goes crazy with recognition, and the song swings into full form.

And then something odd happens. In your left ear, you begin to hear a raunchy, growly guitar come in, playing riffs in a counter tempo. It sounds as if someone has accidentally overlaid a single guitar track from some other song. The playing is so aggressive that it sounds almost punk. The effect is disconcerting, the sound anachronistic. It’s confusing.

Just as you’ve finally accepted that there was actually someone playing this on stage, the guitarist undergoes a rapid personality change. Suddenly, the playing sounds like…it sounds like…can it be true? It sounds like Chet Atkins! Bendy, sugary notes, fast fingering up and down the frets playing rockabilly, C&W bar fare. What the…?

That guitar is so distracting and so demented that it’s difficult to focus on any other aspect of the recording. It’s actually funny — like someone’s loony cousin slipped onstage to take over the show.

Now I find that I can’t listen to the standard version of this song. I have to listen to this one, because the studio version sounds so conventional by comparison.

Introducing Track Tracks

Boop! Boop! Boop!

I’m introducing a new, regular feature of this blog. Sort of like “today’s haiku” — but with music!

“Track tracks” will reveal a new or unearthed piece of music of interest. I run a lot, and I have an MP3 player (iRiver Clix) and an “all you can download” account with Rhapsody. So I listen to a lot of music. I sometimes come across a particulary good piece of music, or just an odd one. Since I’ve been so remiss in posting here, this may inspire me to post more often.

Yes, “Track Tracks” is a really awkward name. I don’t actually run on a track. I thought of calling the feature “Track Wax,” but that was even weirder. So I’ll stick with Track Tracks for now.

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