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Music, running and more

Mike Sudhalter  |  January 1, 2009

About a year ago, I wrote an entry about listening to music while running. Well, my ipod is cooked, the battery is finished. The good thing is that my baby sister (at 25, can I still call her that?) got me a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.

My New Year's Resolution is to get back in to top-shape (and stay there, this time). I've improved my strength, but my running and endurance is significantly down. And I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I've had nothing to listen to while I'm working out.

You don't need a Mayo Clinic study to determine that music pumps up certain people and inspires them to keep running and at times, to run faster. I remember running a four-mile race, in which I planned on listening to "I Go Back" by Kenny Chesney for the last quarter-mile. The battery went kaput, and I didn't have as good of a finish as I could have.

I have the oldest ipod around, and I'm going to buy a new one. The challenge will be getting all those songs on there. I'm going to have to bid farewell to this 2,600-song ipod, although all of those songs are on CDs somewhere. I'll retrieve them. Talk about your weekend project.

The other thing I was thinking about recently was the double standard between athletes and Hollywood celebrities or musicians. Athletes seem to be criticized for even the smallest offense, like skipping a practice or being caught with a small amount of wacky tobaccky.

With musicians or Hollywood celebrities, it seems like drinking, drugs and even being sent to rehab is glorified. I would love to stand here and say that country music is immune to all that. And the clean-cut, All-American image has been vastly improved by stars such as Alan Jackson, George Strait, Brad Paisley and Reba McEntire.

But what about the Country Outlaws like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, etc.? Of course, their hard-living influenced (and many - including me) would say that it positively influenced their music - although it may have caused serious problems in their own personal lives.

I watched the Cash biopic "Walk The Line" the other day. It's a great movie with some excellent performances by Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter....but it basically makes Cash seem like the hero. There was a whole 'nother side of the story that wasn't told - that of Cash's first wife Vivian Liberto. I don't think the movie did a good portraying her whatsoever.

Regardless, there was the famous scene (that happened in real life) where Cash kicked out the footlights on stage in Las Vegas. Now, people talk about that now and want to say how cool it is. If I was in the audience that night and I'd paid my hard-earned money to see Mr. Cash, I would be deeply offended. I probably wouldn't buy any more of his music until he issued an apology for those antics.

I never got to see Cash live in concert, but I did see a concert with my family in the summer of 1997 - then-newcomer JoDee Messina, Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt were excellent. Hank Williams Jr. - the headliner - was awful, and I am a Bocephus fan. Other "fans" were leaving the concert venue in droves during his set. And I had a heck of a time explaining to my mother, father and sister - all of whom came to the show but none of whom are country music fans -that Junior was a giant in the genre.

The whole athlete/celebrity double standard comes down to what I call the Baker-Williams Theory. Vin Baker, for those of you who remember, was a standout college basketball player at the University of Hartford and an NBA Lottery Pick. His alcohol problem led him to become out of shape and he never reached his potential. If you walked into a sporting goods store today that had his jersey, they'd probably pay YOU to take it off the rack.

Hank Williams Sr. died at the age of 29 after hard-living and alcohol abuse...his music lives on and many feel that his life experiences provided the necessary ingredients for those sad, sad stories. So many artists cite him as an influence and namecheck him in songs. Others have written songs about his ghost - see "Midnight in Montgomery" and "The Ride."

The point is, an athlete is only important for what he/she can contribute to the team....Musicians/actors legacies are glorified - right or wrong - long after their life is over. For folks like Hank Sr. and Elvis, their bodies of work stand the test of time.

:: Posted at 8:44 PM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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