My Playlist Needs You

Posted by on Apr 20, 2010 in Bike, Moab | 27 Comments

Many years ago —it feels like an eternity—I rode my first solo 24 hour race. It was, in general terms, a rousing success. In fact, many of my solo 24 hour efforts since then have been complete disasters. However, there was one stretch of time, during the dead of night in that 2004 race that really threw me into a dark and cold arena, full of despair and hopeless mental disarray. A realm so forsaken that still it haunts me, sending chills shuttering down my spine in unexpected moments of nausea and grief: For three hours I had “Dancing Queen” stuck in my head.

And not even the entire song. Because, who knows those words? Just the chorus. For three miserable, black hours.

In the years since, I’ve tried to avoid such pits of despair by fighting back with my own playlists, pre-organized for the assumed moods I’ll be experiencing during long rides. It’s worked fairly well. During the KTR, other solo 24s, and back to back White Rim rides I have benefited from varied and interesting music blaring into my ears, keeping those evil, nasty songs that creep unwittingly into ones psyche—only to replay themselves over and over and over— at bay.

There is just one problem: a lot of that music has worn out its welcome.

I need an influx of fresh tunes.

This weekend I will return to the deserts of Moab to attempt what has become an annual celebration of spring and bikes and the season. The White Rim TT. But I need your help. I need your music suggestions. Help me avoid the inevitable fate of singing Swedish pop songs aloud in the vast and empty realms of the desert.

My tastes lately have been squarely focused on bands like these:

If These Trees Could Talk
Explosions in the Sky
Band of Horses

So, that is a starting point. However, I have fairly wide tastes in music, and variety, especially when juxtaposed against the monotony of the desert, will be readily appreciated. Save me from myself, and those devious demons of terrible song repetition. My sanity* depends on it.

*What is left of it, anyway.


  1. andy dorais
    April 20, 2010

    Modest Mouse
    Great Northern
    Blind Piolet
    Frightened Rabbit

    all are in line with Pinback, muse, etc.

    and…Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 album for when you just need something harder.

  2. mark
    April 20, 2010

    I eschew the ipod on bike and skis. For some reason I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me. I therefore have the playlist in my head to keep my company, which thankfully has so far not included “Dancing Queen.”

    For instance, a couple of weeks ago when hiking up Scotties that big bowl of granola and cup of coffee I had for breakfast began making its presence known. The song in my head? “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

    Or when we were hiking Suicide Chute, and we were all stacked up together, knowing full well that if it went we were all dead, I thought I was going to pee my pants. Especially when Alta fired artillery. The song? “More than a feeling.”

    It’s a great system. When there’s not a moment-appropriate song, the time is usually filled by “Sunday Morning Coming Down” or “It’s not unusual,” which, by the way, should be on every playlist.

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 20, 2010

      One year on the WR, I flicked on my ipod shortly after descending Shafer, and the first song that came on was “Long and Winding Road”.

      The problem with the mental playlist, is that far too often I descend into a tirade of anti-government rants and monologuing. Sometimes I need a break from my own iconoclastic ramblings… 😉

      Hmm. I wonder if any of Murray Rothbard’s books are on CD.

      • mark
        April 21, 2010

        The rants and monologuing are the best part. Nothing gets me to the top of a hill quite like a steady tirade of me telling me how much I hate myself.

  3. Miles
    April 20, 2010

    Something Old – Kashmir, Black Dog – Zeppelin, Fortunate Son – CCR , Rush
    Something New – Kids – MGMT , Ulysses – Franz Ferdinand , Trinity – Paper Tongues

  4. Bob
    April 20, 2010

    Mark typed ‘eschew’ look at the big brain on Mark!!!

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 20, 2010

      Eschews are my favorite kind of nut.

      • mark
        April 21, 2010

        Glen Beck is mine.

  5. KP
    April 20, 2010

    The Eels (esp. Souljacker)
    Blitzen Trapper (esp. Black River Killer)
    The National (esp. Start a War)
    White Rabbits (esp. Percussion Gun)
    W.R. are playing tonight in SLC.

  6. Dave B
    April 20, 2010

    Coheed and Cambria – hands down amazing music (favorite band and favorite music to ride to)
    Broken Bells
    The Shins
    Mars Volta
    Maiden (of course)
    Van Halen
    As Tall as Lions (in line with Muse, pinback, etc)

  7. KanyonKris
    April 20, 2010

    Lots of good music suggestions. I’m going to be checking out many of them.

    I’m so not up on music, so I can only suggest old stuff.

    I’m a fan of Talking Heads. For most it’s an acquired taste. The songs are simple, but creative and the abstract catchy lyrics work for me. Best album is “Stop Making Sense”, but the double-album “Sand In The Vaseline” is a good compilation.

    Oingo Boingo works for me – lots of up-tempo rockin’ songs.

    I’m probably going to catch some flak for this but, I rarely tire of Les Miserable. Moving and expressive songs. There are some duds I delete from my playlist, but the ones that are good are really good.

    Did you grab that free Avant Pop album I blogged about? It’s not free anymore but I found it to be novel and stimulating stuff.

  8. Jeff Higham
    April 20, 2010

    I tend to like the stuff without a lot of singing so I don’t get those annoying lyrics stuck in my cabeza.

    Mr Anonymous (Discotheque, Some Gal a Move, Good Vibe, etc,etc).
    Benny Benassi (Good rhythmic techno)
    Joe Satriani (I’ll let you pick and choose).
    Rodrigo y Gabriela (Spanish guitar duo with some heat behind it).
    Kaki King (More guitar similar to Michael Hedges).
    Into The Wild Soundtrack (Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. Good stuff).
    Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Death Cab For Cutie / The Postal Service (some good some not so good)

    I could go on…

  9. jp
    April 20, 2010

    Music is always a very personal choice…that goes with out saying. I have a buddy that likes to listen to Creed while riding; I try not to hold it against him.
    My current riding play list consists of some of the following:
    – In the desert vintage Pink Floyd always seems appropiate i.e.obscured by clouds and meddle

    – For long slow grinds Tom Waits has a way of making your suffering seem small by comparison

    – Queens of the Stone Age
    – The black Keys
    – the kills
    – Link Wray
    – TV on the Radio
    – Dirt Bombs
    – and for a bit of hip hop you cant go wrong with Mos Def
    Hit shuffle and it should all flow!

  10. Rick S.
    April 20, 2010

    It’s not very original but I plan to download Pink Floyd the Wall for my white rim TT. Also….

    The Clash
    Big Audio Dynamite
    Johnny Cash
    Meat Puppets
    The Promise Ring

    These are all artists on my ipod.

  11. Captain Slow
    April 20, 2010

    Elbow (“prog without the solos”)
    The Subways

    I don’t know about Murray Rothbard…but there’s always a bit of Rush.

  12. Andrew Brautigam
    April 20, 2010

    Sometimes you need some pop

    The Bird and The Bee is fun
    The Avett Brothers – are different
    Jedi Mind Tricks – is awesome
    The Mighty Underdogs- sweet underground hip hop
    Seawolf – classic alternative
    Josh Rouse – singer songwriter
    The Mars Volta – crazy awesome

  13. Tanner
    April 21, 2010

    I have had several bad songs stuck in my head during races, the ones that stand out the most to me are when I had patriotic country songs stuck in my head for an entire season. Lady liberty can only save the day so many times. And the other terrible songs I have stuck in my head were scripture mastery songs made up by my seminary teacher to the tunes of popular songs.

    Might I suggest
    The Decemberists, Manchester Orchestra, Andrew Bird, Ben Kweller, Good Old War, The Sounds (good Swedish pop), and Moby is always good to ride to.

  14. Stacey Jenkins
    April 21, 2010

    Doubling down on The Mars Volta – esp. Frances the Mute.
    Also worthy:

    Liars – not always easy, but worth it
    Tool/Perfect Circle/Puscifer – Maynard is a whiz.
    Delgados (how can a cyclist not like a band with a name like that) – very college radio
    Quasimoto – hip hop unlike anything you’ve heard before\
    Fugazi – more range than they are typically given credit for
    Radiohead – Discard Pablo Honey, and get everything else. I find something new every time I listen to them…

    I also like to browse through and find new electronic stuff to play with – O’rang, Fontanelle, Tortoise, Dune, Keltech are all fun.

  15. Jride13
    April 21, 2010

    A couple of these have been mentioned, so consider them as more votes.

    YOU MUST (everyone must), and I know the name throws people, purchase ASAP (the entire record). Mumford and Sons, best record of the year by a long shot. A mix of many sounds and influences.

    Avett Brother (I and Love and You) – entire record
    Blittzen Trapper

    Enjoy the ride….

    • Grizzly Adam
      April 21, 2010

      Jay, Mumford is awesome.

      I spent a couple hours on iTunes listening to all the bands suggested so far. Excellent stuff. My iPod is happy this morning.

      • KanyonKris
        April 21, 2010

        Mumford & Sons is good.

        Reminds me of another outstanding album: Alison Krauss + Union Station: Live. I’m not a fan of bluegrass, but these musicians are so good and the music so strong I immediately liked it. There are only a few tracks I skip. They did the song “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” for the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”

  16. Aaron
    April 21, 2010

    Arcade Fire
    Mason Jennings
    Vampire Weekend

    Everything that Miles said too – especially the old. Surprised to see Mars Volta a couple times. They are good, if you’re into that kinda thing. Death Cab is always a good choice (especially if you’re as soulful as a Split Boarder). Another vote for the Shins.

  17. jenyjo
    April 21, 2010

    Beck – Guero, or any of it really, except for mellow gold…unless you like slow songs for long, slow hauls… or wicked downhills… space-slow can be good. Beck has been my favorite for big rides for a while now. LOTS of energy. Fun lyrics. Always seems to be fitting for big pony rides.

    Modest Mouse


    Supreme Beings of Leisure

    TOSCA!!! — Dehli 9 or No Hassle … Tosca. Yes. In fact, this is my favorite-favorite right now.

    Tricky Maxinquaye.

    And, a note for JP: WAITS … REALLY!!!!… that will do it. That’ll put things into perspective. What a fantastic idea.


    • KanyonKris
      April 22, 2010

      The first time I heard Supreme Beings of Leisure I was blown away. Such a unique, new sound. The self-titled album is the best. Yeah, I think it would be good for riding.

  18. Brandon
    April 22, 2010

    sorry, I gotta say it: FUCKING SLAYER!!!!!

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