Brett · friends · music · playlists · running · The sisters

Music! Music! Music!

Scientists have found that music lifts our spirits, lowers stress and improves health, keeps our aging brains healthy, reduces depression, improves sleep quality, reduces pain, helps you eat less and enhances running and exercise performance.  To put it very basically, music makes me happy and fills me up from head to toe.  It gets my adrenaline going and evokes memories of people and experiences.  Here are a few that are triggered by songs on my running playlist:

  • Singing “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” from Santa Claus is Coming to Town with Donna as we trudged up hills
  • Blasting “Home” by Marc Broussard with Laura and Craig en route to the Broad Street Run
  • Shut Up and Let Me Go” by the Ting Tings while waiting and waiting and waiting for my swim wave at the New Jersey State Triathlon
  • Can’t Hold Me” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis getting me across the finish of the Philadelphia Marathon
  • Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars) and all of the many many cheering spectators during the Boston Marathon
  • Babylon” by David Grey reminds me of the trip that Paul and I took to Utah that included beautiful scenery, two trail races and a David Grey concert

Music does get my body moving, distracts and motivates me when the run gets hard or I’m just not feeling it.  Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to run without tunes.  I did the JFK 50 miler with just my thoughts (egads!) and an occasional conversation with fellow runners.  (Headphones were not allowed for safety reasons.)  But I prefer to listen to my iPod when I run.  Some mornings it goes on right away!  Most of the time I will do half of my run earbudless and tune in to the frogs, owls and other pre-dawn sounds.  Then I reward myself, plug in and let the music flow and find that I automatically pick up my pace.  The sun starts to rise over the horizon and I am lost in my run, thoughts and music – a feeling of fulfillment.

Before I get into song suggestions for your running playlist, here is a pitch for live music!  A new Australian study finds that listening to music and attending concerts makes you happier.  Yay!  The report states that “engaging with music by dancing or attending musical events was associated with higher [subjective wellbeing] than for those who did not engage with music in these forms”.  Interestingly they found that it was important to have a communal aspect to music.  So listen to the music on your iPod but also go to concerts (with your sisters), dance to the Violent Femmes, make new friends and be happy!

Sisters celebrating music and life together
Bearded friend!
Making new friends!
Dancing to the Violent Femmes

I wanted to share some of  my favorite running tunes.  My music selections are eclectic and my running playlist  is much more about the beat than lyrics.  This was an incredibly hard task and as I whittled down my list, I felt like I was disappointing old friends by not inviting them to my birthday party.  And because taste in music is very subjective, I asked some of my running music loving friends to share their top 5 songs on their playlists.   Here is what I got.


  • Wild Cub – “Thunder Clatter
  • Zedd – “Clarity
  • Empire of the Sun – “Alive
  • Matt & Kim – “Daylight
  • Madeon – “You’re On



  • Harvey Danger – “Flagpole Sitta
  • Kooks – “Naive
  • Rusted Root – “Send Me On My Way
  • Naked & Famous – “Punching in a Dream
  • Cold War Kids – “Hang Me Up to Dry



The 5 “all time favorite” songs that make it on to all of his compilations

  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – “Everyone Deserves Music”
  • New Radicals – “You Get What You Give”
  • Public Enemy – “Fight the Power”
  • Jeff Buckley – “Eternal Life”
  • Rush – “One Little Victory”

New “kids” added to Craig’s latest playlist

  • Jack White – “Lazaretto
  • Sunflower Bean – “I Was Home
  • Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best
  • The Record Company – “Off the Ground
  • The Dead Weather – “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)



Girl power songs to get up the last hill of the run

  • Christina Aguilera – “Bobblehead
  • MIA – “Paper Planes
  • Icona Pop – “I Love It

80’s Favs

  • Tina Turner – “You Better Be Good to Me
  • Weather Girls – “It’s Raining Men


  • Pink – “Slut Like You
  • Elle King – “America’s Sweetheart
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter – “Down at the Twist and Shout” (who knew that a Cajun beat would work for running)
  • Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off
  • Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have Money

For singing when you run, you can try Yelle’s “Comme Un Enfant” and not worry that you are breathing so hard you can’t quite squeeze the words out.  Who cares it’s French, you’ll still sound cool.

And when the run is feeling really long, why not The Proclaimers’ “I Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.



Favorites that make it from one playlist to the next

  • U2 – “Beautiful Day
  • Ram Jam – “Black Betty
  • Ting Tings – “Shut Up and Let Me Go
  • Makelmore & Ryan Lewis – “Can’t Hold Us
  • Florence and the Machine – “Dog Days are Over
  • Icona Pop – “I Love It” (great to blast in the car when you are feeling angry at the world and sing!)

Female Rockers

  • Brandi Carlisle – “Mainstream Kid
  • Grace Potter – “Alive Tonight
  • ZZ Ward – a tie between “356 Days” and “Move Like U Stole It
  • St. Vincent – “Digital Witness”
  • Courtney Barnett – “Elevator Operator

Favorite New Songs

  • Corinne Bailey Rae – “The Skies Will Break
  • The Revivalists – “Keep Going
  • David Wax Museum – “Guest house” (who knew that a donkey jawbone could be a musical instrument – also known as a quijada)
  • Head and the Heart – “All We Ever Knew”
  • Shovels and Rope – “I Know”

Favorite “I think I am younger than I am” songs

  • MisterWives – “Our Own House
  • Matt & Kim – “Daylight

Favorite Flamenco Guitar (just making sure you are reading to the end)

  • Rodrigo y Gabriela – “Diablo Rojo


Hope this inspires you to update your playlist.  And as you hit the trail… BE HAPPY!


3 thoughts on “Music! Music! Music!

  1. Thanks so much for including me in this, Brett, and especially for sharing the “Home” memory. I made a playlist for Broad Street this year, and included that along with other “Laura-centric” tunes. I love that your blog captured how music can be so powerful on both a personal and communal level.


    1. Wow. Well done Brett. I am not a runner. I am a walker and I find music gets me much further than I plan to go each day. By the time I arrive home my day looks different. I credit music as contributing to the attitude.


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