Running Playlist: Five Favorites from the 1960s

It’s a great time to be alive. Sure, the earth is warming at an alarming rate and we’re dangerously close to a Donald Trump presidency, but at least modern technology kicks ass.  In 2016 it’s possible to put every song you own onto a tiny, digital device that’s smaller than a cassette tape and bring it with you wherever you go.

Fifty years ago, this was not only impossible, it was inconceivable.

In the 1960s, if you wanted to listen to music, you had to take out a disc the size of a large dinner plate and put it on a turntable. You then had to delicately drop a needle onto its surface. If you weren’t careful, you might scratch the record, thus ruining it forever. You couldn’t take your music anywhere and you certainly couldn’t take it with you when you went running. (Of course, exercising wasn’t really a thing back then so I guess that didn’t matter all that much.)

Today we’re lucky. We can listen to anything at any time on just about any device. And we can definitely bring our favorite music with us when we run, including songs that were popular during that bygone, record-playing era.

With all this groovy nostalgia in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to humbly recommend a few of my favorite running songs from the 1960s.

Song: White Rabbit
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Year Released: 1967
Who wants to jog while listening to a psychedelic anthem that explores the use of mind-altering drugs via Alice in Wonderland references? I do! It’s certainly not a “get you to the finish line” kind of song, but it works really well as a “slowly build-up your pace and shake off the cobwebs” kind of song. Definitely a solid choice for early in your playlist.
Alternate Drug-themed Song for your Playlist: White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do it) by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel

Song: Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Year Released: 1968
The beauty of using Hendrix’s best song (IMHO) on a running playlist is its versatility. Need music to get the blood pumping early in the run? This works. Need music to help keep the pace during a mid-run malaise? This works. Need music to ensure you finish strong? This totally works. And if you happen to be standing next to a mountain, be sure to chop it down with the edge of your hand.
Alternate Hendrix Song for your Playlist: Crosstown Traffic

Song: Do Your Thing
Artist: Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
Year Released: 1968
Admittedly, this song reminds me a lot more of the 1970s than the 1960s because of the prominent role it played in the film Boogie Nights. The rather graphic demise of Little Bill on New Year’s Eve 1979 wouldn’t be the same without this bass-driven masterpiece. It’s stripped down, it’s lyrically and musically repetitive, and it’s freakin’ killer.
Alternate Boogie Night Soundtrack Song for your Playlist: Machine Gun by the Commodores

Song:  Gimme Some Lovin’
Artist: Spencer Davis Group
Year Released: 1966
If you’ve ever seen a movie then you’ve heard this song. It’s been in pretty much all of them. Iron Eagle. Days of Thunder. The Blue Brothers. Notting Hill. I’m sure this week alone it’s being edited into a half dozen more films and TV shows. I suppose the reason for its cinematic ubiquity is its greatness. Driving bassline? Check. Screeching organ? Check. Band members screaming “Hey!” at just the right moments? Check. All of these elements combine to raise your heartrate and your enthusiasm during a long run.
Alternate Ubiquitous Movie Song for your Playlist: Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones

Song: I’m Not Like Everybody Else
Artist: The Kinks
Year Released: 1966
Who doesn’t like a little self-empowerment mixed into their running playlists? And what’s more empowering than declaring that you ARE NOT like everybody else… even though you’re seeing lots of other runners doing the exact same thing you’re doing… while wearing remarkably similar clothing… as you all train to participate in races that will include thousands of other people… ‘cause you’re not like everybody else… allegedly.
Alternate Kinks Song for your Playlist: You Really Got Me

Want to know my favorite running songs from the 1980s? Check out this totally awesome post.

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