I love classic rock. There is nothing else I would rather listen to. Well, maybe anything 80’s or early ’90’s. Actually there is some good old school rap out there as well. And don’t forget the classics of the ’60’s and ’70’s. Come to think about it, today’s music is pretty good too for the most part. Ah hell, let’s face facts, I love music. Except country, but I can generally avoid that. Whether it’s in the car, at home, or in the dressing room at the rink, the music you listen to is in tune with your mood. If you’re in a good mood, you are likely listening to something upbeat, or that brings back good memories. If you’re having a tough day, perhaps its something slower to help you wallow in your bad day, or it is something to energize you and allow you to scream at the top of your lungs. Music is essential to my life and I honestly could not live without it. When you are spending a lot of time with your teenager, you are likely going to have some musical differences and follow up discussions. Or sometimes, you’re in sync and some of your most memorable trailing memories are tied to some great music as if your life has an ongoing soundtrack.
Like many people, many of my best (and worst) memories are tied to music that was listened to at the time. I will always remember the music that I was listening to when I started dating my wife (Dave Matthews – Crash Into Me), that my kids listened to when they were infants (Raffi – Mr. Sun), and when I was training for my Sinister 7 solo attempt (Pearl Jam – Nothingman). There was music to warm up to in high school basketball (House of Pain – Jump Around), memories of college (Tea Party – Temptation) and songs that remind me of my good friend Steve that passed away of cancer way too young this past June (Elton John – I’m Still Standing). Music is everywhere and tied to so many parts of your life.
Now the funny thing about this blog post is that it isn’t about the music you listen to when you are trailing. A lot of people pop their headphones in and get lost in their mix tapes, mix cd’s and digital playlists. Music can be used during a run or exercise, it can energize someone, or it can simply help to pass the time. Myself, I tried running with music on many occasions and it simply doesn’t work for me. First off, I find that I can’t settle my breathing down. If it’s an upbeat song, my breathing gets rapid and I can’t slow it down. Weird right? I need to hear my breathing when I’m exercising, otherwise I feel lost and out of sync. Second, I like to hear what is going on around me when I am trailing. Whether I am in the ravine by my house, or on a backcountry trail in the Canadian Rockies, I want to hear the sweet sound of silence. Is silence a sound? On a trail, there is always some noise, albeit very quiet. It could be a bird chirping, or brushing against branches on a trail, or the sound of rain on the ground. Also on trails, it is best to be able to hear a bike coming up behind me or an animal prancing around in the bushes beside me. Third, when I am trailing with someone else, I like to converse with them from time to time, or throughout the entirety of the activity. When I do hill repetitions with my good friend Jason the Ironman, we talk the whole time. Well, he talks a bit more because he tells the best stories. He has several times told stories for the entirety of a 30km training run. And even though I contribute and ask some questions, I love listening to a good storyteller. And you can’t do that when you are listening to music. Now this isn’t to say there is anything wrong with listening to music while trailing. Many, many people do this and it helps them get through a workout or an adventure. For me, it has just never worked…
So once again, how does music relate to trailing with my son if I refuse to listen to it while I’m “out there” with him. Well I will tell you. It is the music that we hear at home when we are eating breakfast. It is the music we listen to on the way to a trail run or a race. It is the music blaring at the finish line of an event. It is the music we hear on the way home from tough day on the trails. Somehow, our memories connect trailing to music. I recall driving to start Sinister 7 in 2011 listening to Arcade Fire’s Wake Up. I had been listening to Pearl Jam the entire night before, wanting to have some of that stuck in my head, but it wasn’t to be. Wake Up played through my head for over twenty four hours. Well, the way I see it, it could have been much worse. The night before running Blackfoot 50km Ultra in 2007, my wife and I had watched a romantic comedy called “Music and Lyrics” starring Hugh Grant as a washed up ’80’s singer. They played his “big hit” several times in the movie and wouldn’t you know that while I was struggling through my second lap of Blackfoot the next day, all I could hear in my head was the awful “Pop! Goes my heart” song that made me want to run right into a tree to knock it out of my head.
Eric is the best at remembering music that we have listened to and what race or trail activity we were involved in. I don’t know how he remembers it, but he remembers what we listened to before during and after events such as the Grizzly Ultra, Five Peaks races, Canadian River Valley Revenge, and Blackspur Ultra as well as long runs and hill rep days. He will hear a song on the radio and say “hey Dad, this reminds me of… ” and spit out the exact moment he remembers hearing this as it relates to our trailing. The creme de la creme though is Rio, by Duran Duran. We heard Rio on the way to one of our first Five Peaks races and we had a good day on the trail. Then by some fluke, we heard it on the drive to the next one roughly a month later. And not to be outdone, prior to the third race of the season, Hungry Like the Wolf was pumping at the race start/finish area. I loved Duran Duran growing up, but Eric? I did not expect him to be enjoying this, but he did. So much so that he added it to a playlist and would regularly play it on the way to training runs and races from there on as it became “our song.”
Even though there is twenty five years in between us in age, for the most part, we can agree on most music, which I know not all parents and children do. Growing up, I listened to a lot of CCR, Guess Who and the Beatles on the eight-track player in my parents blue van. I don’t know if I was really consciously enjoying it back then, but as an adult I love that music. It makes me think of good times camping as a child and it just connects with me in a way that other music doesn’t. I am fortunate that Eric and I listen to most of the same music. He enjoys classic rock and ’80’s music but also listens to a lot of modern rock and popular music. He opens my eyes to some good music, and to some that I may not want to listen to more than once, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It also gives us something to talk about. I don’t think we really think about the fact that we talk about music a lot in the car, at home or on a trail. Music is all around us and it is great that it helps connect us as he gets older and more independent. There have been so many finish lines that are memorable in part because of the music being played and I know that we are only scraping the surface. I know that we won’t always see eye to eye on the same tunes, but based on our shared love of trailing and the experiences that come from it, I do know that we will always have Duran Duran!