The meaning of song goes deep.
Who is there that, in logical words,
can express the effect
music has on us?
A funny thing happened on the way to the 100th "Boston Marathon". The radio (an old T-Zone model) in the decrepit van a group of us had rented to make our pilgrimage to the never-to-be-forgotten race came on by itself and was already tuned to an obscure station located high atop the Allegheny Plateau in central Pennsylvania. We soon discovered that this station (call letters: WRUN, 26.2 on your FM dial) plays music expressly for runners traveling to and from races. We must have heard Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins's siren song to marathoners, twenty times en route to Beantown. The Rite of Spring, Monday, Monday, and Weekend in New England also got a lot of air time.
Over the next few days, we learned a lot about WRUN. "Freaklyn" and "Barnyard", the station's two deejays, are hard-core runners. They have a list of every race in the country, ordered by date, and their avowed purpose is to provide just the right ambiance for runners wending their way to these races and making their way back home. What's more, if you so desire, you can call them toll free (1-800-4-RACERS) to request a song. We use the word "request" loosely because what really happens is this: Freaklyn and Barnyard (who always end up playing their own favorites anyway) only want to know where you are headed, how you are feeling, and, after the race, how things went. And then these music mavens, ever the control freaks, play a selection or a medley from their menu of melodies to match your destination or your prerace or postrace mood. Occasionally, they themselves pick a golden oldie, modify it slightly for their audience of runners, and sing a duet. We sang along with the sappy soul mates as they belted out a Boston riff dedicated to Bill Rodgers: "Met him on a Monday and my heart stood still, da doo run run run, da doo run run. Somebody told me that his name was Bill, da doo run run run, da doo run run"...
As you may have inferred from their musical choices for Boston, the Freaklyn and Barnyard Show playlist can only be described as eclectic. (A special note for those of you who are wondering: When you tune in, you will find that the overused themes from Rocky and Chariots of Fire are conspicuously absent from the RUN-26.2 airwaves.)
After our arrival, we listened to WRUN whenever we were cruising around Boston in the van. In addition to continuing to spin tunes tailored for the marathoners headed to Boston, Freaklyn and Barnyard would broadcast excerpts from previous shows. Here are four that we taped:
Barnyard - Freakie, I understand we have Ima Klutz, who just finished second in the "Advil Mini-Marathon", a women's race in New York City, on the line.
Freaklyn - You got it, Barnman. She says she was leading the race until a gust of wind threw her off stride with 100 yards to go. She collided with a spectator, fell down and scraped her knee, and could only watch as the woman in second place sped past her to victory. She protested to race officials, but her protest was, of course, disallowed.
Barnyard - Well, lemme see. We played New York, New York, Poetry in Motion, and Girls Just Want to Have Fun before the race. How about sending a medley her way? We could package Big Girls Don't Cry, This Nearly Was Mine, It Only Hurts for a Little While, Look for the Silver Lining, Turn Down Day, and the theme from Rawhide.
Freaklyn - Or we could go with a funeral dirge, I'm a Loser, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, I Wonder Why, and the theme from Gone With the Wind.
Barnyard - Once again, Freaklyn, you have your bony finger on the pulse of women's running - your medley it is. But what about the three women who wandered off course and the hundreds of DNFs? And what about the winner? What do we have for them?
Freaklyn - The "Peripatetic Pattys" will get Here, There, and Everywhere and the women who didn't finish will hear Ninety-Six Tears, It Don't Come Easy, and Our Day Will Come. As for the winner, she will thrill to the strains of Wasn't Born to Follow, Could This Be Magic, With a Little Bit of Luck, Glad All Over, Ode to Joy, and the Hallelujah! chorus.
Barnyard - So be it. And let's not forget those runners who can't wait to flee the Big Apple, as well as those who can't bear for their time in Gotham to end. For the former, we'll spin We Gotta Get Out of This Place and The Load-Out, and for the latter, Glad to Be Here and Stay. That should wind it up on this big day for women runners.
Freaklyn - Speaking of women, I just got off the horn with Ann Trason, the flat-out winner of the "Western States 100-Miler". She left all the men in her dust at the 56-mile mark. I think I gotta break into the vault for the four biggies I've been saving for this occasion: Runaway, Respect, Celebrate, and I Am Woman.
Barnyard - Go for it, Freakster. This is WRUN, 26.2 on your FM dial - the superstation exclusively for runners - reminding all of you planning to run the "Rockville Twilight 8k" in July that we'll be on the air at 7:00 pm playing Saturday Night Fever, Twilight Time, Heat Wave, and Slow Down. And for you crazies planning to do the 24-hour race at Fort Meade in August, you can look forward to hearing Rock Around the Clock, Tomorrow Is a Long Time, Long Lonely Nights, and Running on Empty.
Barnyard - Freaklyn, what kind of weather do they have in D.C. for the "Marine Corps Marathon" today? I don't know if I should play Blowin' in the Wind, Come Rain or Come Shine, Stormy Weather, or I've Got the Sun in the Morning.
Freaklyn - I'm not sure, Barnie. Why don't you phone Willard Scott?
Barnyard - Nah, he never answers my calls.
Freaklyn - By the way, have you put Semper Fidelis and With a Little Help from My Friends on the air yet?
Barnyard - Yep, an hour ago, Sweetcakes. And for all the luminaries who resented rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi at the crowded starting line, I played Too Close for Comfort. What do we have lined up for after the race?
Freaklyn - Anyone who poops out on the 14th Street Bridge will get the theme from A Bridge Too Far. For runners who walk the last two miles to the Iwo Jima Memorial, we have Dead Man's Stroll, Troubles, Troubles, and The Big Hurt. And the winners, especially those whose training programs worked to perfection, will be enjoying I'm a Believer, Leader of the Pack, Born to Run, Memories Are Made of This, Walking on Sunshine, Winner Take All, You're the One, and This Magic Moment.
Barnyard - Quite a lineup. You've outdone yourself, Freakie.
Freaklyn - Thank you, Barnmeister. Don't forget to remind our listeners about our big "Name That Race" contest.
Barnyard - Okay. The rules are simple: We give you the song and you have to tell us the race we played it for. The winner gets one free month added to his or her "Runner's Gazette" subscription. Here are four examples. We played The Happening for "Bay to Breakers"; Old Cape Cod was our choice for the "Falmouth Road Race"; 59th Street Bridge Song was our theme-du-jour for the "New York City Marathon", and lastly, Rocky Mountain High was the evocative ditty we used for the "Bolder Boulder 10k". The Freakster will now take a deep breath and give you the all-important list of lilting melodies for you to match with races. Some are easy, others, more difficult because the races are not very well-known or the title of the song is generic.
Freaklyn - Here goes: Bristol Stomp, Appalachian Spring, Under the Boardwalk, Summer in the City, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, My Old Kentucky Home, Circle Game (hint: this is a famous track meet), Climb Ev'ry Mountain, Splish Splash (hint: this is a big-time cross-country race with a huge water hazard), Anchors Aweigh, Take Me Home, Country Roads, Maryland, My Maryland, Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis, Over the Rainbow, the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Chelsea Morning, Woodstock, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Streets of Laredo, Yellow Rose of Texas, California Dreamin', My Kind of Town (Chicago Is), Kansas City, Oklahoma, Carolina in My Mind, Georgia On My Mind, (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay, Houston, Down in the Boondocks, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, Philadelphia, U.S.A., September Song, Autumn Leaves, Smokey Mountain Boogie, Swanee River, Memphis, Take Me Back to Tulsa, Seattle, Detroit City, L.A. Sunshine, Nashville Cats, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, Red River Valley, Moon Over Miami, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Wolverton Mountain, El Paso, San Antonio Rose, Hawaiian Wedding Song, This Diamond Ring, and The Battle of New Orleans. Whew!
Barnyard - While the color of Freaklyn's face returns to normal, I remind you that you are tuned to WRUN-26.2, broadcasting from high atop the Alleghenies.
Freaklyn - Thanks, Big Guy. Happy trails, runners.
Barnyard - You're listening to the Freaklyn and Barnyard Show on this "Trevira Twosome" day. That last song was Tea for Two and was preceded by Together, Combination of the Two, Just the Two of Us, A Man and a Woman, and It Takes Two.
Freaklyn - This just in: Paul Pilkington and Paula Newby-Fraser are the winning couple! I'm told that Paula is elated after setting a 10-mile PR today. So here's our medley for the dominant duo: Hey, Paula, Run, Run, Baby, Run, Happy Together, Running Like the Wind, There's No Stopping Us Now, It's De-Lovely, We Belong Together, A Couple of Swells, Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, and We're a Winner. Paul and Paula will be receiving A Rose and a Baby Ruth in the mail, compliments of WRUN.
Barnyard - What about the prerace favorites? I understand the female half of that twosome really bombed. Should we throw Turtle Woman and She Drives Me Crazy on the turntable?
Freaklyn - No way! Not unless we first play Goin' Down Slow, Ole Man Trouble, What Kind of Man Are You?, and Broke Down Piece of Man to mock all the male millstones who ran today. There were a lot of men who didn't help their partners much.
Barnyard - Okay, okay, don't get your dander up. I was only kidding. Speaking of partners, I wanted to team up with Cindy Crawford in the celebrity division, but she had already selected some young buck as her running sidekick. [Sigh] Just to share a Gatorade with her would have made my day.
Freaklyn - Dream on, Barnyard.
Barnyard - You'd think these women would realize by now that, in picking partners for distance races, you can get 'em hunky or you can get 'em speedy, but not both.
Freaklyn - Yeah, but you're neither. Gaunt geezers need not apply.
Barnyard - Touche, Freaklyn, touche.
Freaklyn - You are tuned to WRUN-FM, the station for runners. A reminder to everyone planning to run the "Old Dominion 100-Miler". We'll be on the air three hours before the starting gun with Long Way to Go, Far Away Places, Pushin' a Good Thing Too Far, There's a Long, Long Trail, I Ran (So Far Away), All Night Long, How Long Will It Take, and The Long and Winding Road.
Barnyard - Till next time, then, this is Barnyardo...
Freaklyn - ...and the Freakster...
Freaklyn & Barnyard - ...saying, Keep on Running.
Barnyard - Today is the big race: the "Nortel Cherry Blossom 10-Miler". And Freakie and I are here to regale all you runners in radioland with music to match your prerace mood. If you're on a roll and you're primed for a PR, then these melodies are for you: Got My Mojo Working, I Have Confidence, Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries, In the Mood, It Won't Be Long, and I Feel Good All Over. However, if you're just gonna run as you feel and enjoy the atmosphere of the race, we have a different medley for you: It Goes Like It Goes, Any Time At All, Let It Be, and Ease on Down the Road.
Freaklyn - Or, maybe this is your first race after recovering from an injury. If you think you're gonna blow everyone away, we'll be comin' at ya with What a Fool Believes, (The) Impossible Dream, The Clock, (A) Cock-eyed Optimist, The Pretender, You Better Run, Do You Believe in Magic, and the theme from Mission Impossible. Or, if you are just glad to be back running again but a little unsure of yourself, you'll be able to identify with New Attitude, Running Scared, If I Fell, and On the Road Again.
Barnyard - That about sums it up, Freaklyn. By the way, I heard you and Johnny broke up and you're now, shall we say, Footloose. How did it happen?
Freaklyn - I got fed up with his taste in music and blurted out, Hit the Road, Jack - what else?
Barnyard - We're outta here. This is radio WRUN signing off... See ya on the roads.
On the way back from Boston, we had the dial locked on WRUN the whole time, stopping at gas stations every fifty miles or so to try to phone Freaklyn and Barnyard (but for some strange reason, we never could get through). We kept the radio on even after we pulled over to catch some shuteye at a roadside rest - the tunes played by the two jocks filling the night air. And, as if to underscore that WRUN exists solely to serve runners, its sign-off music at midnight was not the Fat Lady warbling The Star Spangled Banner, but rather, a skinny guy singing falsetto: Frankie Valli serenaded us with his rendition of Let's Hang On, an anthem for marathoners if ever there was one.
We must tell you, however, that there is something very strange about station WRUN. Now that we're home, we haven't been able to pick it up on any other radio. We're beginning to think we never should have rented Rod Serling's old van. [Oooo-weeee-oooo!]
Run The Planet thanks the Road Runners Club of America for the permission to reprint the article "A little traveling music" by Freddi Carlip and Bernie Greene. Freddi Carlip, Eastern Region Director of the Road Runners Club of America and Editor of the "Runner's Gazette", who has always wanted to be a deejay, enjoys the strains of Break My Stride on the way to races. Bernie Greene, 1995 Club Writer of the Year in the Eastern Region and a member of the Montgomery County Road Runners Club in Maryland, listens to Sousa marches. Permission granted to redistribute, as long as you acknowledge the authors, and the Road Runners Club of America.