a melancholy Muse for my Radiohead

Published on February 11th, 2014

Yesterday was one of those days when nothing could go right.

First thing in the morning the shower drain started shooting water like a geyser. It left behind all kinds of brown rusty residue as if the shower had thrown up all over itself. As soon as I finished wiping up all the drain vomit, the brown geyser rose again. The plumber later explained that it was triggered by the people upstairs clogging up the water line for some reason.

Along the way I got some non-earth shattering but very disappointing news and gradually fell into a rut where I couldn’t seem to do anything right. You know, the type of day that makes you think back to the classic children’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” A move to Australia seemed like the next logical option.

The final straw was at 3:00 when my internet connection inexplicably went dead. The Time Warner automated line explained there was an outage in my neighborhood. This meant speaking to a customer service rep was futile because they’re kept ignorant of any other useful information so the outage can be a catch-all excuse for everything.

Without an internet connection I can’t do any work. I wanted to scream. At this point it was a no brainer. I had to go for a run.

My mood craved Muse, something kind of hard and angsty but hopeful. “Invincible” was a necessity. Also I’d been meaning to test the song “Citizen Erased” on a run because it has these really rough, drivey, crunchy guitar chords I love. The kind that make you feel like you’re going insane in an mad world of grinding metal and static. The song is epic but it goes a little soft at parts so be aware of that if you run to it. I also threw in “Thoughts of a Dying Atheist” from Muse, because it’s another great guitar heavy song that would keep the momentum going.

Now, I don’t have enough Muse running songs to fill out an entire 30-ish minute playlist so I went to Radiohead for the rest of the heavy lifting. There’s nothing like some melancholy Brit Rock to get me out of my funk. When I’m angry I don’t want to hear anything too positive, it’s irritating. Even though some of the Radiohead songs are thoroughly depressing they’re also validating and cathartic. The shuffling drums keep everything moving through the dysphoria like a toxic flush. It may not be for everyone but it works for me.

Kid A and The Bends are two of my favorite albums of all time. “The National Anthem” is a great way to kick off any playlist. Yesterday “Just” was really hitting the sweet spot in particular. It probably should have been on my “Get Off On Guitars” playlist the other day but the thing about both Radiohead and Muse is that they’re a little loose with their tempos. You have to pay attention if you want to stick to the beat and for certain sections you have to let the idea of syncing go because they don’t stay strictly to the same cadence.

I did this playlist as an easy run, increasing the speed by small increments as I went. I did a few strides “fartlek” style, in that I took it fast for 30+ sec if the music supported it, but overall I didn’t want to overdo it on this run so I didn’t hold the speed for long.

I felt much better after my run! In the grand scheme of things nothing that happened was too terrible, but it’s easy to get all angry and twisted up when it seems like nothing is going your way. It helps to get out and work out the angst.

Do you have any songs you like to listen to on terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days?

Song Time Artist Album BPM/SPM
The National Anthem 5:52 Radiohead Kid A 90/180
Just 3:54 Radiohead The Bends 88/176
Invincible 5:00 Muse Black Holes and Revelations 90/180
Thoughts of a Dying Atheist 3:12 Muse Absolution 89/178
Citizen Erased 7:19 Muse Origin of Symmetry 90/180
All I Need 3:49 Radiohead In Rainbows 88/176
In Limbo 3:31 Radiohead Kid A 88/176
Total Time 32:32

BPM = Beats Per Minute, SPM = Steps Per Min.
The tempos are between 85-97 or 175-193 depending on if you count the basic or double time. To your feet this equals the ideal stride rate


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