Sunday, January 31, 2016

Workout Megamix Liner Notes - Part II

NOTE:  This post is rated R for mild strong language and coarse humor.


Hear my entire Megamix (200+ songs) on Spotify - click here!


In my last post I described my decades-long project of creating the best collection of rock & rap songs to listen to while riding my indoor bike trainer or rollers.  Not all music is suitable for hammering away all winter, and music is a bare necessity for this activity.  (Note the inconspicuous, but all-important, headphone cord in this photo.)

I’m aware that some people watch movies or cycling videos while riding indoors.  I suppose this could be somewhat diverting—but that’s kind of the problem.  You can’t be diverted from the suffering at hand, if you’re going to do this right.  You need music with a driving beat, and it never hurts if it has some attitude, so you can find the proper frame of mind (which is somewhere between excitement and rage).  Oh, and the music has to be sophisticated enough that you don’t get sick of it after repeated listening.  There are pop songs I was already sick of before I’d finished hearing them the first time.

As I mentioned before, my Ultimate Workout Megamix has 165 tracks, which is about 11 hours of music, all in alphabetical order by track.  In my last post I was able to cover A thru G.  Tonight I provide the list—replete with liner notes on selected songs—for H thru M.

Liner notes – Dana’s Ultimate Superfly Workout Megamix Part II

Happiness is a Warm Gun - The Breeders
            Perhaps you’re familiar with the original Beatles version of this.  That wouldn’t be lively enough for the trainer.  The Breeders add a snarling guitar to it and it works great.  A college roommate of mine expressed astonishment that this was an all-female band despite the low voice of one of the singers.  Turns out my roommate was fooled by some photo where the guy was in drag.  That’s about all I know about the Breeders other than it was started by Kim Deal, formerly of the Pixies.

Head Down – Soundgarden
            This song helpfully reminds you to put your head down, which is useful while hammering, at least on the indoor trainer.  As the grammar coach of the UC Berkeley road team, I explained to everybody that “head down” is a figure of speech; while racing you really need to watch the road.  A former teammate of mine was once time trialing with his head down and rode right into the back of a parked car.  DAAAAAAAAAMN!

Heart In a Cage - The Strokes
            Good, fast tempo, the relentless driving beat so characteristic of the Strokes (it’s called a “triplet” according to my daughter, who knows something about music), and even some grumbling about how “I’m stuck in a city but I belong in a field” which captures that trapped feeling you get riding indoors for the third month in a row … this song has it all!  This is from “First Impressions of Earth,” an underrated Strokes album (all their others are overrated).

Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana
            Like “Black Hole Sun,” this song had quite the video.  It creeped me out big time when I first saw it.  At that time I was living in a literally flea-ridden apartment with a roommate who got baked like five times a day and had all the cable channels.  Just now I checked the video out again and probably the creepiest part is Kurt Cobain’s artificially blue eyes.  I once had an office job where the copier broke down constantly and I got to know the repairman, who had these dazzling blue contact lenses and a huge Swatch watch selection.  Nobody photocopies anymore … I wonder what that guy’s up to.  Maybe he’s in a band.

Heartbeat - Ice-T
            One of the best workout songs ever, as it reminds you to keep your heart rate up.  Plus it’s just a jammin’ song anyway.  “Listen to my heartbeat, it’s beatin’ like a wild man/ But that’s natural, ‘cause you know that I am/ No punk, no chump, no fool, no toy/ Try to get ill and I’ll serve you, boy!”  I sing along until I’m gasping for breath.

Hustlers - Nas
            This guy started rapping when he was just a pup, and was basically brilliant right out of the gate.  His quality control takes a bit of a hit because he produces albums almost constantly.  He’s kind of the Woody Allen of rap in that regard:  prolific but oddly willing to put out mediocre stuff now and then.  (He released two albums in one year, 1999; one went double platinum and the other fizzled.) This track is from “Hip Hop Is Dead,” which is my favorite of his albums.  An odd fact about Nas:  though he’s gotta be pretty wealthy, having sold over 15 million records in the U.S. alone, he also owns a shoe store.  I guess he just really likes shoes.

Hypnotize - The White Stripes

I Am A God - Kanye West
            Again, I cannot quite describe how I feel about Kanye West.  Actually, if I paraphrase the writer Adam Gopnik, maybe I can:  I don’t like Kanye West, but I like to listen to him.  (Gopnik was quoting his 6-year old talking about Barney, the purple dinosaur.)  This song is the epitome of braggadocio, but it’s got a good, weird, dark atmosphere and some great lines:  “I am a god/ So hurry up with my damn massage/ In a French-ass restaurant/ Hurry up with my damn croissants.”

I Am Not a Human Being - Lil Wayne
            What a great segue, from “I Am a God” right into “I Am Not a Human Being.”  This is one of my favorite Lil Wayne songs.  It has more effective guitar than any other rap song I can think of except maybe “The Girl Tried to Kill Me” by Ice-T or “Sing For the Moment” by Eminem.  I challenge you to listen to this on the trainer without starting to pedal harder.  I’m playing it right now to help with this commentary, and damn it, where’s my bike?!  LET’S ROLL, YOU AND ME, RIGHT NOW MUTHAFUCKA!

I Could Have Lied - Red Hot Chili Peppers

I Go To Work - Kool Moe Dee
            This is the rare nap song you can sing to your kids.  Did I really just type “nap song”?  Elton John would be a nap song.  I meant to say, this is the rare rap song you can sing to your kids.  There’s no profanity at all.  I was surprised the other day when my older daughter suddenly busted out with the whole first verse (which is a lot—237 words).  I started rapping this at my mom’s house at Thanksgiving recently, pleasantly camouflaged against the chatter of a bunch of kids, nieces and nephews, but suddenly they all went silent so they could hear.  It was a little scary, like suddenly being on stage.

I'm Back - Eminem
            Good, solid stuff.  I don’t know what this guy has against Christopher Reeves.  Maybe he’s just reminding us listeners that he’s the most tasteless rapper alive.  But good!

I'm Your Pusher - Ice-T

If I Had - Eminem
            My favorite line?  “If I had one wish, I would ask for a big enough ass for the whole world to kiss.”  This is funny all by itself, but even funnier for people my age who remember that corny Coke ad he’s mocking, from 1971:  “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love.”

It Takes a Muscle - M.I.A.

Jack My Dick - Obie Trice
            This song might not work for your trainer ride the first few times you hear it because you’ll be laughing so hard your legs might turn to jelly.  Here, Obie presents the only convincing case for abstinence I’ve ever heard.  Not that this is the kind of song the Religious Right would ever embrace, and I can’t see it being put into service as a Public Service Announcement.

Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden

Just Lose It – Eminem
            Another song from the least of Eminem’s albums, “Encore,” but good for the trainer.  I think this is supposed to be a dance track.  It’s got a good beat, I could dance to it (if I could dance, but I can’t, so I ride rollers instead) … I give it a 7!

Killing Lies - The Strokes

Knives Out – Radiohead
            “If you’d been a dog they would have drowned you at birth.”  Nuff said.

Know It Ain't Right - M.I.A.

Last Nite - The Strokes

Legacy - Eminem

Like Suicide – Soundgarden
            Look, I know I have a lot of Soundgarden on this list.  I can’t help it.  I’m not saying they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread (and I’m not actually even that fond of sliced bread), but the drumming in this song, particularly toward the end, makes me want to ride to death.

Little Acorns - The White Stripes

Loco-Motive - Nas

Lollipop - Lil Wayne
            Some critic got all hot and bothered because this or that masterpiece of songcraft lost out to “Lollipop” for the Grammy in 2009.  The reader was expected to share this outrage, and I must say, “Lollipop” is just a bunch of gutter talk, very sophomoric, absolutely the kind of music you only listen to via headphones.  But none of this matters.  If you listen to this during exercise, you will get a better workout.

Longview - Green Day

Look In My Eyes - Obie Trice

Lose Yourself - Eminem

Love Me - 50 Cent
            I guess this is technically an Eminem song, but for some reason I think of it as 50 Cent.  I know nothing about 50 Cent.  My favorite line on this song is actually by Obie Trice.  It goes like this:  “Show me love … bitch.”  That just cracks me up every time.  I mean, it’s pretty bad when you have to tell your woman to love you.  I mean, you’re already on the wrong foot there, like people can just love on command.  But to make matters worse (perhaps out of reflex?) the speaker shows emphasis by calling her “bitch.” Yeah, dude, that will win her over.  It’s just funny.  Perhaps a feminist wouldn’t find this funny at all.  But think about it:  the funny part is how lame the guy is.  Feminists should use this as a case study for one of the many things wrong with men!  Who knows, maybe they do.

Love Me or Hate Me - Lady Sovereign
            Really, really great song, and I think this genre—grime—is generally a very good one for the trainer.  It’s fast, lots of wacky sounds, plenty to hook your bored brain on.  And the chorus here is good advice for the kind of person who tries so hard to be reasonable and likable, she just can’t cut herself any slack.  (Or he/himself … whatever.)  That advice is, “If you like me then thank you/ If you hate me, than fuck you.”  I sometimes play this one on speakers (rather than headphones), and whenever the f-word comes around I cough really loudly to drown it out, for the kids’ sake.  Today I finally let Alexa (age 14) hear the whole thing.  “I’d been wondering why this song always made you cough so much,” she said.

Love the Way You Lie - Eminem

Matangi - M.I.A.

Mockingbird - Eminem

Money Over Bullsh*t - Nas

Mother - Pink Floyd
            Okay, this isn’t actually ideal trainer music, but it’s just such a great song.  And actually, the guitar solo is pretty rousing.  If you’re into the movie “Pink Floyd The Wall,” you should check out my exegesis, in which I put forth this song as the key to understanding the entire movie.  Click here.

Mr. Carter - Lil Wayne

Mrs. Officer - Bobby Valentino/Lil Wayne

My Dad's Gone Crazy - Eminem

My England - Lady Sovereign
            One of my favorites.  If I understand this one right, it’s making fun of Anglophiles who think they know something about England because they read Bridget Jones’ Diary or saw the movie.  Meanwhile, Lady Sovereign both celebrates and denigrates her homeland in a way that never fails to amuse me.  Check it out!

My Mom - Eminem
            This is the best workout song I know of concerning Munchausen syndrome by proxy.  If you’re aware of other rousing rap or rock songs on this topic, please let me know.  If I gather enough of these, perhaps I’ll create a Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy Workout Megamix.  Actually, that might end up being kind of depressing, but it would still beat going to the gym.

My Name Is - Eminem

My Wave - Soundgarden

Stay tuned

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve focused on a relatively small number of bands/singers in this list.  Well duh, that’s to help you!  Not everybody consumes music by buying one MP3 at a time.  You could actually buy a few CDs, perhaps used, to take a gamble on this music.  Or just keep listening to that Sting album you bought back in college … see if I care.

Tune in next time for the penultimate installment (probably N thru S).  Click here for Part III, and enjoy your turbo-training!

More reading

Here are links to the rest of my series of Workout Megamix liner notes:
For a complete index of albertnet posts, click 

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