# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - April 2014

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 3 / 4 / 2014

Miscellaneous - April 2014


In 'Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll', Ben Howarth examines the connections between sport and music

Here's two things that very often don't match – sport and indie-rock music. Let's be honest, becoming a guitarist is very often a form of compensation for the realisation that you will never play in central midfield for Manchester United. For some, it may just be the cultural links between playing in a band and living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle – all beers and service-station sandwiches. For others, a rejection of sport is part of the rejection of mainstream culture that sparked their musical interest. Look at my Twitter feed, for example. During something important – the conclusion of a tense one day international in the sub-continent, perhaps, or an Andy Murray quarter-final – everyone I follow on Twitter is, quite properly, talking about it. This is a good thing, because human evolution hasn't quite evolved to the point of a reliable multi-sport smart-phone app. Access to live scores is the only reason I keep my Twitter account up. And then who should spoil it? Musicians, of course. As much as I like their songs, it's sometimes hard to forgive someone posting a picture of a new guitar pedal while I am trying to simultaneously keep up with a T20 International and a tense League Two relegation 'six pointer'. There are honourable exceptions, of course. My favourite Manics Street Preachers lyric comes on 'Mr Carbohydrate' - “Have you heard of Matthew Maynard?/He's my favourite cricketer/I'd rather watch him bat than play my guitar.” A fine, and deserved, tribute to the man who led Glamorgan to the County Championship in 1997, and later was England's Assistant Coach when they won the 2005 Ashes. But, the Manics are the exception to a rather sad rule. None of the Beatles had any interest in sport, while Morrissey – a gifted athlete in his youth – banished it completely from his life. Many Smiths fans were disappointed at the cancellation of Johnny Marr's recent tour, but became aghast when they found out why – he injured himself running. Running! If there's one thing anti-sport people hate more than competitive team sports, it is people exercising simply for the hell of it. Which is a shame, because there has been something of a renaissance in music listening in recent years – all caused by the ease at which an MP3 player fits into a tracksuit pocket. Many people who would otherwise have simply run out of time for music – distracted by 'Game of Thrones' box sets, school runs, the never ending need to iron shirts, and all the other joys of joining the ranks of the middle-aged – have rediscovered it as an essential part of the weekend jog. Musicians too rarely acknowledge this. They see their music as their message to the world, serious-minded art. Do they really think about how we actually listen to this stuff? That music isn't always 'art' – sometimes it's far more important than that. It's keeping us going as we tackle the tricky uphill section in our local park, and then, later, keeping us sane as we tackle a particularly daunting pile of washing up. I predict a tipping point soon. Brazil 2016 could be the first Olympics to break one of the last great sporting taboos – an athlete competing with headphones on. The great Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath used to sing songs to himself in his head to keep focused as he ran in to bowl. Would it really be a problem if the next generation actually listen to those songs, on an iPod? The running community is, in fact, still dangerously divided on the subject of headphones. Inexplicably, many long-distance events advise those taking part not to wear headphones, on spurious safety grounds. New runners are frequently subjected to insidious temptations to 'run naked', replacing the sounds of guitar, bass and drums with the tweeting of birds, splashing of puddles and their own desperate gasping for breath. You may have gathered from all this that I have become a runner myself in recent years. Until this year, I managed to keep it under control, but a few weeks ago, I found myself turning down alcohol on the basis that I planned a long training run the next day. As comedian Charlie Brooker said when he confessed to having taken up exercise, it's a strange feeling when someone you know does something utterly and completely out of character, and even stranger a feeling when that person is you. I'm not apologising, though. Running is fun (certainly more fun than a hangover, and arguably less damaging to the knees than joining a moshpit). And I couldn't have done it without music. I don't understand how anyone got anywhere before personal stereos were invented. A few weekends ago, I took part in a six mile run, for Sport Relief (search their website for 'Ben and Pippa Run' if you'd like to help!) I put more effort into devising the perfect playlist than I did on training for the damned thing. You'd be surprised what works best. Ignore the obvious variables (tempo, volume) and focus on the subtler qualities – you want those songs that you'll never tire of. The laps simply whizz by. It's the songs you take on a run that you really love. Musicians may hate sport, but anyone who likes sport simply can't do without music. And, if we weren't all using their songs on running playlists, many musicians would be out of a job. If you were wondering, here is my Sport Relief playlist - Belle and Sebastian – The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner EST – Goldwrap Randy Newman – Jolly Coppers On Parade Jonsi – Animal Arithmetic Ezio – A Country Song Bellowhead – 10,000 Miles Away Henry Priestman – True Believer Idlewild – You Held the World in Your Arms The Divine Comedy – Tonight We Fly Eric Bibb – Sebastian's Tune Bellowhead – Roll the Woodpile Down The Divine Comedy – Generation Sex Roddy Woomble – Travelling Light Idlewild – The Nothing I Know The Divine Comedy – I Like John McCusker – Whiskeyface

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