Monday, 20 August 2012

The Hills are Alive With the Sound of MP3s

WHEN your Clapped-Out Runner was a tiny lad, there was a thing called the ‘Hit Parade’ and every week we would all be glued to Top of the Pops on TV to find out who'd got into it.

In those days groups needed to sell hundreds of thousands of little vinyl discs to even make the Top 30, let alone the No.1 spot.  How times change.  These days a TV soap star only has to break wind remotely tunefully to find themselves soaring to the top of the charts.

Therefore it’s not surprising to hear that performers, young and old, who took part in the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics are quickly reaping the rewards of their high profile appearances. It’s been reported that no fewer than 65 musicians associated with London 2012 now feature in this week’s Top-200 singles chart.

The musical directors of London 2012 had the tricky task of choosing music to appeal to all ages and backgrounds, and for the most part they did a pretty good job. And this week’s sales figures prove that many of the tunes they gave us are being added to personal playlists in high numbers. Schoolkids are apparently lapping up the likes of Ray Davies and The Who. Who would have thought it?

Some of the songs that hit the night air above the Stratford stadium will have been identified as ’inspirational’ or ‘motivational’ and downloaded to the MP3 players of many runners.  

Running to music is big these days, I am told. Your Clapped-Out Runner only ever indulges when a treadmill is involved, but elsewhere there is a growing subculture of runners who wouldn't dream of taking a single step without their motivating playlists. I haven’t noticed this phenomenon at my own club, Tiptree Road Runners, but perhaps that’s because we’re a bit old fashioned and like chatting too much.

A while ago the governing bodies of the sport introduced rules and regulations to discourage the use of personal headphones in races. Their reasoning was that a runner cannot be safe on the roads if unable to properly hear traffic or marshal instructions and suchlike. But this idea has not gone down well in all quarters, of course.

Elite or ‘traditionalist’ runners don't seem to need external stimuli to overcome what some must perceive as the drudgery of running. In the case of your Clapped-Out Runner, I must have unusually shaped ears or something, for those little earpieces fall out after a few seconds anyway - even if I’m standing perfectly still. Therefore, having never used a Walkman or MP3 player for running, I’ve consequently never missed being without one. I like to carry as little baggage as possible when on the move – and certainly don’t fancy little wires dangling around the neck area.

Having said that, I do see the appeal of having a set of speakers positioned near your treadmill, or the idea of listening to upbeat music on your way to a race.  One of these days I might even get round to making a CD of favourite running tracks for that very purpose. In the mean time, I’ve tried to come up with a Top 30 anyway, and for your delight and delectation I present it here.

There’s some decidedly ‘uncool’ names on the list, but now that the Olympics has turned the youth of today on to acts dating back as far as the 1960s, I need have no shame in revealing a list with a decidedly ‘old school’ bias. No hip-hop here, I’m afraid.

The Clapped-Out Runner’s Top 30 Running Tracks:

1. Life of Riley- Lightning Seeds  
2. Run Run Run – Jo Jo Gunne
3. The Runner – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
4. Gotta See Jane – Golden Earring
5. Rendezvous 4 – Jean-Michel Jarre
6. Echo Beach – Martha and the Muffins
7. The Trap (London Marathon theme tune)
8. Running Man – Jimmy Nail
9. The Passenger – Iggy Pop
10. He’s Gonna Step on You Again – John Kongos
11. The River – King Trigger
12. Streets Have No Name (medley) – Pet Shop Boys
13. The Heat Is On – Glenn Frey
14. History of Modern - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
15. Marathon Man – Ian Brown
16. Run for Home – Lindisfarne
17. I Ran (So Far Away) – Flock of Seagulls
18. Start Me Up – Rolling Stones
19. Ride Like The Wind – Saxon
20. Roadrunner – Chris Spedding
21. Running Down a Dream – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
22. Blue Hotel – Lene Lovich
23. Here Comes a City – The Go-Betweens
24. Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group
25. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
26. Bohemian Like You – Dandy Warhols
27. The Summer Place – Fountains of Wayne
28. (When I Kiss You) I Hear Charlie Parker Playing - Sparks
29. Norfolk Coast - Stranglers
30. Fall of Rome – James Reyne

(Check out Rob Hadgraft’s published books at

1 comment:

  1. Great list , glad I'm not the only one who remembers the flock of seagulls. I love to run to faithless , but like you only use an I pod on the treadmill.