Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Workout Megamix Liner Notes - Part IV: the Final Liner

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


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


This is the last installment of my Workout Megamix liner notes:  a list of, and commentary on, the music I play while riding indoors.  Click here, here, and here for installments I, II, and III respectively. (Update: I added two more over the years. The full list, with links, is at the bottom of this post.)

Let me be clear on something:  I do not condone riding outdoors with headphones.  I was once coming home from a ride and was passing this other biker when he started drifting to the left.  I yelled at him but he kept coming, until we were almost in the left gutter.  Dude almost took me out, and I couldn’t figure out what his problem was until I saw he was wearing headphones.  I strangled him with the cord and dumped his body in a well.  (Mentally.)  It’s one thing to lose yourself in music while riding indoors—in fact, that’s kind of the point—but on a public road, you need to be in the real world.

In other news, I realize my Megamix is pretty heavy on a relatively small number of singers/bands (in fact it comprises just 35). The thing is, there’s tons of good music out there but not all of it is good for riding the trainer.  Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like a low-key song.  I’ll bet a Coldplay song—even a good one—would lower my heart rate by 20 bpm.  And then there are fast-paced songs that work for a while but start to get old.  I’ve worked hard to pick only the best-suited tracks for this Megamix.

(No, I don’t actually think you’re going to go buy a bunch of CDs based on these recommendations.  But you could get some from the library to try out.  Remember libraries?  I’m a card-carrying member! And if you are more modern than that, click here for my Spotify playlist.)

Liner Notes – Dana’s Ultimate Superfly Workout Megamix Part IV – The Final Liner

Take It or Leave It – The Strokes

Takeover – Jay-Z
         This song, which started a feud between Jay-Z and Nas, features  Jay-Z bagging on Nas for not being more successful.  Nas has had five number one albums and has sold over 25 million records, which is pretty amazing until you consider Jay-Z has had ten number one albums, selling over 100 million.  That said, Nas is a way better rapper.  Sales aren’t everything; consider that Herman Melville sold only 3,200 copies of Moby Dick during his lifetime, while Danielle Steel has sold 650 million novels.
         All this aside, “Takeover” is a pretty good track.  In one extended motif, it makes fun of (or pays homage to?) the David Bowie song “Fame,” substituting “lame.”  Good beat, easy to dance to … I give it a 7.

Take, Take, Take – The White Stripes

Tango – Lady Sovereign
         Continuing the “hater” theme, this song is a very funny, if vicious, attack on … who?  what?  Someone orange, to be sure:  “And you always know where she’s been,/ And you always know when she’s had a pee,/ Cause the toilet seat ain’t clean/ Cause the toilet seat has an orange sheen!”   After years of being mystified by this song, I finally did some research.  Tango, in this context, refers to an orange-flavored soft drink (surely as artificial as a fake tan) hawked in the UK by a spokesman in an orange bodysuit.  The chorus of this song:  “Slap, bang, goes on your fake tan/ Bitch, you look like the Tango man.”
        Turns out Lady Sovereign is bagging on a one-time pop-star-wannabe named Jentina who, as near as I can figure, is the British equivalent of Vanilla Ice, but without the fifteen minutes of fame.  Whether or not Jentina deserved such vitriol, this is a great song, perfect for the trainer.
         (By the way, I know somebody who once tried on a spray-on tan.  It made her almost as orange as a carrot!  Yikes!)

Tarantula – Bob Schneider
         I saw this singer live, at a small San Francisco venue called The Independent, in the early aughts.  Some friends had come all the way from San Luis Obispo to see him, so my wife and I tagged along.  It was a great show.  This guy’s music is all over the place; at the concert he did a totally straight, non-ironic cover of “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)” along with a rockabilly version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away.”  Not much of Bob Schneider’s repertoire is suitable for indoor workouts, but this song is.  You should check it out.

Tell Me Why – M.I.A.

That Was Just Your Life – Metallica
         Years ago my family was house-swapping with a family in Glasgow, and I found this Metallica album there called “Death Magnetic.”  The apartment belonged to a couple of professors and was full of great books, so I decided they must have good taste.  I wasn’t wrong:  this album totally rocks, and “That Was Just Your Life” is one of my favorite tracks on it.  If you’re getting sick of the dark, cold days and indoor workouts, the lyrics can see almost eerily apropos:  “Like a misery that keeps me focused though I’ve gone astray/ Like an endless nightmare I must awaken from each day.”

The Air Near My Fingers – The White Stripes

The Day I Tried To Live – Soundgarden

The Day That Never Comes – Metallica

The Girl Tried To Kill Me – Ice-T
         This is one of the rare rap songs that has a whole lot of electric guitar.  Very high-energy stuff, and also funny.  It’s about a guy who meets the girl of his dreams (“Hype, super-dope body and face, her mini-skirt tight/ Talkin’ ‘bout legs and lips, mindblowin’ hips/ Had to cross my legs just to look at her tits”).  Unfortunately, she turns out to be psychotic, which is bad enough news before her husband shows up.  A rap classic.

The God That Failed – Metallica

The Hardest Button to Button – The White Stripes

The Man Who Sold the World – Nirvana

The Monster – Eminem with Rihanna
         This is a great song.  I suppose I could go on and try to say something interesting and original about it, but I just glanced at the Wikipedia entry and it’s just vast.  There are 121 footnoted references on that page.  It’s tempting to say that somebody (i.e., the amateur Wikipedia writer) needs to get a life, but then that’s a dangerous proposition for a blogger.  Glass houses and all that.
         Suffice to say, this is the Eminem song that everybody likes, even those who hate Eminem.  Rihanna is another famous musician.  I think she’s famous because she sells a lot of records, but for all I know, she’s famous because she has a tortured “private” life or something.

The Real Slim Shady – Eminem

The Righteous & The Wicked – Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Unforgiven – Metallica

The Unforgiven III – Metallica
         This is another of my favorites.  (I love the original “Unforgiven” as well, though it’s slightly marred by the silliness of a line in the chorus, “I dub thee unforgiven.”)  Toward the end of this track there’s this minute-long guitar solo that will have yourself pedaling like a madman.
         Case in point:  I was pedaling along to this recently, on the rollers, and started going harder and harder.  That often happens with great music, but then it dawned on me that my increased effort wasn’t entirely voluntary.  The pedaling itself was getting harder, and my heart rate was climbing.  What’s more, the bike was getting harder and harder to control.  My back was starting to hurt.  Finally I realized the problem:  I had a damn flat tire!  Who gets a flat tire on the rollers, for cryin’ out loud?  Me, that’s who!

Through Being Cool – Devo

Time To Get Ill – Beastie Boys
         Back in 1990 I was working at a bike shop with a couple of illegals from London.  On a hunch I asked one of them if the Beastie Boys were big in England.  “Absolutely huge,” he said.  I can see why.  Though they may seem as American as apple pie, these guys are quite the Anglophiles.  This song is a case in point:  it’s a tribute to “Binker,” a poem by A.A. Milne published in 1927 in the book Now We Are Six.  Skeptical?  Compare these passages:
Binker’s brave as lions when we’re running in the park;
Binker’s brave as tigers when we’re lying in the dark;
Binker’s brave as elephants.  He never, never cries…
Except (like other people) when the soap gets in his eyes.
I’d have the pedal to the metal if I had a car
But I’m chiller with the Miller cold coolin’ at the bar
I can drink a quart of Monkey and still stand still
What’s the time? It’s time to get ill.
         It’s easy to tell which is the Milne poem and which is the rap song, but the similarities are striking.  Of course the rhyme scheme is identical, and the meter very nearly the same as well, but beyond that, there’s a thematic resemblance, almost as though MCA would like to see himself as a modern-day Binker.
         By the way, I made all that up, except the bit about my bike shop pal and these guys being huge in England.

Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs – Beck
         There’s some dialogue at the beginning of this song (“You lousy puke!”/ “Why don’t you call your mommy?!”) that will jar you to attention if you start to slouch during your workout.  It’s an odd song, somewhere between a ballad and a dirge, but faster, that catalogs the squalid details of some horrible neighbors; for example, “Whiskey-stained buck-toothed back woods creep/ Grizzly bear motherfucker never goes to sleep.”  Very funny, and dark … it should have you pedaling your ass off to get away from these people (though as usual, this being the trainer, you’re going nowhere fast).

Trunk – Kings of Leon
U Wanna Be Me – Nas
         One nice side effect of all this trainer music is that you have a wider variety of songs that might pop into your head during a road (or trail) ride.  Click here and search on “wanna” for an account of a total dork who tried to school me by blowing through a stop sign and keeping his momentum for an uphill.  This song became the anthem of his comeuppance.  “You suckers, you weak, you flunkies, you fake/ You couldn’t come close on my worst day.”

Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey
         This song is the title track from the album “Ultraviolence,” which is apparently very popular.  I’d never heard of it, nor of Lana Del Ray, when I came across it in the “Lucky Day” section of the library.  It looked pretty cool, and I figured maybe the title was a reference to Clockwork Orange, so I checked it out.  Kind of a nifty sound, different, and there was a sticker the librarian put on the jewel case saying “TEEN,” which helps me pretend I’m not old and lame.  I liked this album enough to buy it, though most of the songs aren’t quite right for the trainer.  This one does the job.

Unorthadox Daughter – No Lay
         That “Unorthadox” isn’t a misspelling.  It’s really spelled that way.  I don’t know much about this song or about No Lay, other than to say I got this from a grime compilation album called “Run the Road.”  (Wikipedia is no help here; the entry is so sloppy it spells Marshall Mathers “Mashall Mathers.”  Stylistic misspelling is one thing; typos are quite another.)  This song is good and fast and I have no idea what No Lay is saying.  But that’s good … you’ll have plenty of time to puzzle this out as you flail away at the pedals, week after week, until spring.

Untutored Youth – The Hives
         I love this song.  It’s very hard to make out the lyrics but I’m pretty sure part of it goes, “And when people tell me what is OK and what is not, it should not be unexpected when I extend my middle right hand digit and say ‘Hey, would you like lemon or lime with that piece of advice, mister?’”  The Hives are great for the trainer because the songs are really short, so you can commit to absolutely hammering through them the whole way.  A Hive Interval, you might say.

Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

W.T.P. – Eminem
         A fair bit of this MegaMix is somewhat dark, so it’s nice to have some lighthearted, funny songs on there, and this is one of them.  Throughout his oeuvre Eminem has turned his humble trailer-trash roots into an asset and this song is perhaps the pinnacle:  “So let’s have us a little bash/ And if anyone asks, it ain’t no one but us trash.”  And talk about a cheap date:  “Now honey, don’t let them pricks trip, we should make a quick dip/ And go do some doughnuts in the hospital parking lot.”
         When I was in high school, a friend had this old Volvo wagon with a bad muffler, so it sounded like a muscle car, and every time we drove anywhere, he’d swing by the high school to do doughnuts in the parking lot.  It was a dirt lot, which is pretty amazing because this was Boulder, Colorado which has since been so gentrified the roads are mostly paved with teak or mahogany.

What I Got – Sublime
         I’d never heard of this band until a friend said I should check them out.  So I bought their eponymous album, tried it out, and immediately recognized several songs I’d heard a lot on the local alternative rock station (whose deejays can’t be bothered to give the name of a song or artist—we’re just supposed to know, duh!).  Three of Sublime’s songs made the cut for this Megamix.
         I’m actually not that curious about musicians, so I never looked these guys up on Wikipedia until just now.  Dang, it’s actually a very sad story which I’ll spare you from … you can always go look it up if you want.  The fact is, their subject matter is often pretty dark and trashy, but in a kind of jovial way, so it never used to bum me out.  Now I’m not sure I’ll ever hear their music the same way again.

What’s Wrong With Them – Lil Wayne
         This is another one of those rap songs where the chorus is sung by a woman with a great voice.  In this case the chanteuse is somebody called Nicki Minaj.  I won’t necessarily check out her music; sometimes these guest appearances are better than the contributing artist’s own work.  For example, I liked Amy Winehouse’s contribution to the Nas song “Cherry Wine,” so I checked out one of her albums.  Alas, I couldn’t get into it … I just didn’t like the style (though she had a great voice).  Similarly, Dido is great on Eminem’s song “Stan,” but her own songs wouldn’t work for the trainer. 
         So many pop songs featuring women have such cloying lyrics.  I asked my teenager who the hot female pop singer is and looked her up:  “I go on too many dates [chuckle]/ But I can’t make them stay … My ex-man brought his new girlfriend/ She’s like “Oh, my god!” but I’m just gonna shake.”  You know what?  I really don’t care about the romantic foibles of some drippy fool-for-love.
         Whatever Nicki Minaj typically sings about, I like her belting out, “This is times up/ Put your signs up/ They done picked my dude/ Out the lineup/ Baby what the fuck’s wrong with them/ What the fuck’s wrong with them?”  Okay, maybe this lament is about her dude (i.e., Lil Wayne), but at least it’s not just the typical unrequited love … this seems to be a commentary on dubious incarceration and the questionable practice of having eyewitnesses look at police lineups.  The way this critique is delivered, it’s got a nice kick to it.

When I Come Around – Green Day

Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana

Where Is My Mind? – The Pixies
         I love this song.  You may be tickled to learn how it came to be written.  The lead singer, Black Francis, is credited with this explanation:  “That came from me snorkeling in the Caribbean and having this very small fish trying to chase me. I don’t know why; I don’t know too much about fish behavior.” (Hey, Black has the same approach to research that I do!)
         Incidentally, there’s a great M.I.A. song called “20 Dollar” that borrows heavily from this one.

Wherever I May Roam – Metallica

Whip It – Devo

Wrong Way – Sublime

XR2 – M.I.A.

You Ain’t Got Nuthin – Lil Wayne
         The fact is, Lil Wayne’s lyrics, though good, aren’t nearly as clever as, say, Eminem’s.  But somehow Lil Wayne makes his words sound so great.  “Uhh, I get money like a muhfucker/ Shades darker than a bitch, but I can see/ I got everything, you got nothing/ But you ain’t got nothing on me.”  On the page the words fall pretty flat … but when you’re hammering on the indoor bike, heart rate at like 160, all that adrenaline and everything, these simple words seem so profound!

Young Lust – Pink Floyd

Zero Chance – Soundgarden 

More reading

Here are links to the rest of my series of Workout Megamix liner notes:
The complete Megamix list (updated December 2022)

For your convenience, here's the complete list of tracks on my Workout Megamix:

‘Till I Collapse - Eminem
16 Shots -  Stefflon Don
20 Dollar - M.I.A.
212 - Azelia Banks
8 Miles & Runnin’ - Freeway/Jay-Z
911 Is a Joke - Public Enemy
A Punchup at a Wedding - Radiohead
A Thousand Days Before - Soundgarden
A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T - The Hives
Adrenaline Rush - Obie Trice
Airbag - Radiohead
Alive - Sia
Ass Like That - Eminem
Average Man - Obie Trice
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Bad Guy - Eminem
Be Somebody - Kings of Leon
Beautiful - Eminem
Beautiful Pain - Eminem w/ Sia
Best Rapper Alive - Lil Wayne
Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
Black Saturday - Soundgarden
Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos - Public Enemy
Blow Up the Outside World - Soundgarden
Bones of Birds - Soundgarden
Borders - M.I.A.
Born Free - M.I.A.
Brain Stew - Green Day
Broke as Fuck -  YBN Cordae
Bucky Done Gun - M.I.A.
Burden in My Hand - Soundgarden
Cash Money Millionaires - Lil Wayne
Celebrity Skin - Doja Cat
Cha Ching (Cheq 1-2 Remix) - Lady Sovereign
Charmer - Kings of Leon
Cheers - Obie Trice
Closer - Kings of Leon
Come As You Are - Nirvana
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Cool Cats - Obie Trice
Cops Shot the Kid - Nas
Creep - Radiohead
Cry Now - Obie Trice
Deja Vu - Eminem
Desperation - Eminem
Discombobulated - Eminem
Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man) - Devo
Down In It - Nine Inch Nails
Easy to Crash - Cake
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Everlong - Foo Fighters
Eyelid’s Mouth - Soundgarden
Fell In Love With a Girl - The White Stripes
Fell On Black Days - Soundgarden
Fight the Power - Public Enemy
Follow My Life - Obie Trice
Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Fresh - Devo
Galang - M.I.A.
Get Free - Lana Del Rey
Girls LGBNAF - Ice-T
Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gnat - Eminem
Godzilla - Eminem
Got Hungry - Obie Trice
Hands On You - Eminem/Obie Trice
Happiness is a Warm Gun - The Breeders
Heart In a Cage - The Strokes
Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana
Heartbeat - Ice-T
Hustlers - Nas
Hypnotize - The White Stripes
I Am Not a Human Being - Lil Wayne
I Could Have Lied - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I Go To Work - Kool Moe Dee
I Will - Eminem
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
If I Had - Eminem
I’m Back - Eminem
I’m Your Pusher - Ice-T
It Takes a Muscle - M.I.A.
Jack My Dick - Obie Trice
Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden
Just Lose It - Eminem
Killing Lies - The Strokes
Knives Out - Radiohead
Know It Ain’t Right - M.I.A.
Last Nite - The Strokes
Legacy - Eminem
Like Suicide - Soundgarden
Little Acorns - The White Stripes
Loco-Motive - Nas
Lollipop - Lil Wayne
Longview - Green Day
Look In My Eyes - Obie Trice
Loot My Body - Man Man
Lose Yourself - Eminem
Love Me - 50 Cent
Love Me or Hate Me - Lady Sovereign
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
Matangi - M.I.A.
Mockingbird - Eminem
Money Over Bullsh*t - Nas
Mother - Pink Floyd
Move Your Body - Sia
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Mr. Carter - Lil Wayne
Mrs. Officer - Bobby Valentino/Lil Wayne
My Dad’s Gone Crazy - Eminem
My England - Lady Sovereign
My Mom - Eminem
My Name Is - Eminem
My Wave - Soundgarden
No Love - Lil Wayne/Eminem
No Regrets - Eminem
Non-State Actor - Soundgarden
Not Going Back - Nas
Not the Same Anymore - The Strokes
Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
Offend In Every Way - The White Stripes
On the Other Side - The Strokes
One Mic - Nas
One Time 4 Your Mind - Nas
Outshined - Soundgarden
Overfloater - Soundgarden
Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
Personal - Ice-T
Pony - Ginuwine
Pump Your Fist - Kool Moe Dee
R.A.K.I.M. - Rakim
Rabbit Run - Eminem
Radio Suckers - Ice-T
Rap God - Eminem
Rewind - Nas
Rhinosaur - Soundgarden
Richard - Obie Trice
Roughnecks - Obie Trice
Safe From Harm - Massive Attack
Santeria - Sublime
Searching With My Good Eye Closed - Soundgarden
Seduction - Eminem
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
Sexodus - M.I.A.
Shoot Me Down -Lil Wayne
Shooter - Lil Wayne
Sick Of You - Cake
Sing For the Moment - Eminem
Smack That - Eminem
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Smile Like You Mean It - The Killers
So Human - Lady Sovereign
Soul of a Man - Beck
Spoonman - Soundgarden
Stan - Eminem
Stop - Jane’s Addiction
Suck My Kiss - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunshowers - M.I.A.
Superunknown - Soundgarden
Survival - Eminem
Sympathy For the Devil - The Rolling Stones
Take It or Leave It - The Strokes
Take, Take, Take - The White Stripes
Takeover - Jay-Z
Tango - Lady Sovereign
Tarantula - Bob Schneider
Tell Me Why - M.I.A.
That Was Just Your Life - Metallica
The Adults Are Talking - The Strokes
The Air Near My Fingers - The White Stripes
The Day I Tried To Live - Soundgarden
The Day That Never Comes - Metallica
The Girl Tried To Kill Me - Ice-T
The God That Failed - Metallica
The Hardest Button to Button - The White Stripes
The Man Who Sold the World - Nirvana
The Monster - Eminem with Rihanna
The Real Slim Shady - Eminem
The Righteous & The Wicked - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Unforgiven - Metallica
The Unforgiven III - Metallica
Thrift Shop - Macklemore
Through Being Cool - Devo
Time To Get Ill - Beastie Boys
Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs - Beck
Trunk - Kings of Leon
U Wanna Be Me - Nas
Ultraviolence - Lana Del Rey
Unorthadox Daughter - No Lay
Untutored Youth - The Hives
Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
W.T.P. - Eminem
What I Got - Sublime
What’s Up Danger - Black Caviar & Blackway
What’s Wrong With Them - Lil Wayne
When I Come Around – Green Day
Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Nirvana
Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
Wherever I May Roam - Metallica
Whip It - Devo
Why Are Sundays So Depressing - The Strokes
Worse Dreams - Soundgarden
Wrong Way - Sublime
XR2 - M.I.A.
Yah Yah - Eminem
You Ain’t Got Nuthin - Lil Wayne
Young Lust - Pink Floyd
Zero Chance - Soundgarden

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