Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Top Ten "Get Pumped Up" Songs

Was at Max's swim meet last night (1st in Fly, 2nd in 50 Free, 1st in Breast, IM relay was DQ'ed) and before the meet somebody was playing "Big Poppa" by the Notorious BIG to (I guess) pump up the swimmers. Pay no mind that most of the kids are so young they have no idea who the Notorious BIG is, and that the song has all the intensity of the staff working at a South Carolina lumber yard in the dead of August, at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was a bad choice.

Which got me thinking.... back when I ran cross country (twenty years and 150 pounds ago), I would always listen to Genesis "Turn It On Again" on my Walkman knock-off before I'd go out an raced to 53rd place. So, what are my Top Ten "Get Pumped Up" songs? Thanks to a real case of writer's (sermon) block, here they are:

10) Bang The Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren): Because I really don't want to work. I'd rather bang on a drum all day. It's true.

9) Big Time (Peter Gabriel): The really ironic part of this song was that it was Peter Gabriel's reaction to everything he thought was bad about the eighties. The growing materialism. Yuppies. The emergence of the SUV. Gordon Gekko's "greed is good" ethos dominated the decade, and Gabriel's work was a scathing indictment of it. But the song has a such a good groove, that it gets me going, even as I sing "on my way to my big church, to pray to my big god". Very strange.

8) Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel): Best double entendre song in all of history. AC/DC has been ripping it off now for ten years as lyrical inspiration. Not to mention that the bass line and the horns are killer. Still a favorite while riding on a garden tractor while mowing the lawn.

7) Flashlight (Parliament): Bootsy Collins is greatest living funk bass player alive. Couple that with George Clinton's unique music gifts (insanity?), and you get something very, very special. Growing up in Lima as a "city school kid", I always had friends that listened to funk and rap, and you can never escape your influences. You'll probably also never love any other music more than the music you grew up listening to as a teenager. Hence the large volume of funk songs in my MP3 player.

6) Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2): The version recorded live at Red Rocks. When the crowd sings so loud they drown out Bono. Great stuff!

5) Turn It On Again (Genesis): One of my favorite albums growing up as a kid was "Three Sides Live". If you've ever listened to it, you know that the first song, on the first album is "Turn It On Again", and if you've ever heard it, you'll know that there is a very long intro where there's just a bass and keyboard, and the sound of a crowd that can't wait for the show to begin. I always thought that was cool. I think Genesis still uses this tune to open their shows (on occasion), even though it was written long before they were ever all that popular. Not only gets the blood flowing, but connects me to that skinny junior high kid sitting in a van, getting ready to run 2.5 miles as fast as he can.

4) Don't You Want Me (The Human League): Really could have been five or six Human League songs. Why? I'm a sucker for Eurotrash pop synth music. It's my guilty pleasure. Well, that and "ABBA" and another genre of pop music you will learn about, shortly.

3) Message In A Bottle (The Police): Probably the best song ever written about isolation and loneliness that you'll ever play air guitar to.

2) Mr. Blue Sky (ELO): While we were living in West Virginia, about the last year we still lived down in the valley on Cread Drive, a kid moved in down the street who was three or four years older than I. Joe Burdette was a great guy, who, probably because no one else lived close to him who was his age, would always invite to come over to hang out. He'd let me ride his motorcycle. He'd let me play his Atari and his hand held Mattel Football Game (the white one that featured red lights as players). And whenever we were anywhere, he'd be playing ELO. Why? I've no clue. But even to this day, if I could ride my motorcycle, alone, on a sunny spring day, with one song blaring out of the radio, and I could choose it, I'd pick this one. It truly sums up what the first nice day after a long cold winter is like. That and you can sing like an opera singer at the top of your lungs with the choir.

1) We Are Family (Sister Sledge): Hints at my love for (forgive me Uncle Jack for I have sinned against you) disco. The Bee Gees, KC and Sunshine Band, Evelyn "Champaign" King, Donna Summer, Kool and the Gang, The Village People, Earth, Wind and Fire..... you've never lived until you've read Lesslie Newbigin with a disco soundtrack (just trust me on this one). And best disco song ever written was We Are Family... or maybe I just remember the hysteria around the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979. I don't know... it's one or other. It's either the greatest disco song ever recorded, or it's just more nostalgia gone wild. Either way, it's great to listen to on a treadmill.

Honorable Mention:
- Like To Get To Know You Well (Howard Jones): Have you seen "Better Off Dead"?
- Welcome to the Jungle (Guns and Roses)
- Panama (Van Halen)
- Rivalry (Big Tent Revival)
- Jesusfreak (DC Talk)
- Jet Airliner (Steve Miller Band)
- Whip It (Devo)
- Rockin the Suburbs (Ben Folds)
- Battle Hymn of the Republic (as sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir): So sue me.
- Bananaphone (Raffi): Quit scoffing you elitist.
- Buckeye Battle Cry (The Ohio State Marching Band): Like Auburn, Georgia or Florida have anything can compare. Get real.
- American Mall (Hoag): It's like ten simultaneous shots of espresso.
- Copacabana (Barry Manilow): Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. But that was many years ago, when they used to have a show..... I'm gonna take a lot of ribbing for this one, aren't I.
- On Top Of The World (The Carpenters): But not as much ribbing as I'll take for this.

OK, now I can work again. (What... you think I can wax poetic on youth ministry, post-modern Christianity, and death all the time? Expect less from a guy who as a kid thought Fonzie was the coolest guy in the world. Hehhhhhhhhhhh!)


Anonymous said...

genisis??? peter gaberial....NOOOOOOO where is the prince...milli vanilli...cnc music factory, now that will pump you up for a swim meet....let's go crazy lets go nuts.... congrats to max...

The Thief said...

I wonder why you didn't stick with Cross Country... if you could run while being lulled to sleep by those songs, you must have been really good!

My pump up music immediately before soccer games was (in this order):
Metallica: Battery
Metallica: Master of Puppets
Metallica: Orion
Metallica: Damage, Inc.

In fact, I would listen to Ian McCullough and Peter Murphy on the bus to a game to calm me down - couldn't start the Metallica too early.

Matthew French said...

Yes, I was about to jump in with everyone else and trash your list as completely baseless and lame, but then it was saved at the very end, Copacabana baby! I have a huge thing for Barry, since my dad was a roady for him when I was a wee little lad and slept in the corner of the room as Barry ate his pre-gig grub. My wife tells me that I should never speak of my love for Barry (his music that is), but sometimes I can't help it. As a young kid I had a lot of tapes, but only from two groups. Barry and Kiss. My mom took me to Kiss for my 5th birthday. So I guess I would be remiss if I didn't throw up Rock and Roll All Night for consideration.
Rock on!