Today marks the return of my
dreaded long weekend run. Well, they may not be “long” yet…but they will be soon enough. So following the usual “breakfast, coffee and poop” ritual, today’s morning challenge calls for a spooky (yes, it’s Halloween inspired) 3 x 15 minute progressions with the creepy-ass ‘Bone Machine‘ album by Tom Waits.
Okay, so it’s probably not the most inspired album to listen to for what’s intended to be a somewhat difficult run but, hey, it is Halloween and the 3 x 15 minute progressions are already scary enough so I decided to just go with the flow this morning.
‘Bone Machine’ is a critically acclaimed and award-winning album, released in 1992 on Island Records. It won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, and features guest appearances by Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Primus‘ Les Claypool and Brain, and The Rolling Stones‘ Keith Richards.
Not bad for s guest line-up, eh?
The album marked a return to studio material for Waits, coming a full five years after his previous studio album, ‘Franks Wild Years’ (1987). The album is often noted for its dark lyrical themes of death and murder, and for its morbidly rough, stripped-down and absolutely sinister-sounding, percussion-heavy blues rock style…perfect for a Halloween-themed run on a dreary, overcast day.
In keeping with the title’s grotesque image of the human body, the album is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It’s a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly (or, perhaps, under-worldly) by Waits’ raspy falsetto and often-distorted roars and growls.
Matching that evocative power is Waits’ songwriting, which is arguably the most consistently focused it’s ever been. Rich in strange and extraordinarily vivid imagery, many of Waits’ tales and musings are spun against an imposing backdrop of apocalyptic natural fury, underlining the insignificance of his subjects and their universally impending doom. Death is seen as freedom for the spirit, an escape from the dread and suffering of life in this world – which he paints as hellishly bleak, full of murder, suicide, and corruption.
Who’s ready to run, baby!
Anyway, the chugging, oddly bouncy beats of the more uptempo numbers make them even more disturbing – there’s a detached nonchalance beneath the horrific visions. Even the narrator of the catchy, playful ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up‘ seems hopeless in this context, but that song paves the way for the closer ‘That Feel‘, an ode to the endurance of the human soul (with ultimate survivor Keith Richards on harmony vocals). Me? I was just clinging on by that point, so I guess that was a rather ironic note to end on.
Anyway, the plan for 3 x 15 minutes was a horrible failure. I mean, the 1st 15 minutes at an easy pace were pretty simple (aren’t they always?) but the inspiration to move any quicker just wasn’t there today…and I knew it. It’s cold, it’s rainy…“fuck this”, is exactly what went through my head at the 15:01min mark of the run.
Truthfully, ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning weren’t feeling the juice after Friday’s triple ass-kicking, nor were the Doom n Gloom tunes providing that motivational “hutzpah”, so to speak. Not that ‘The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me‘ or ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here‘ aren’t awesome tunes or anything, but they’re not really what you would call proper motivational music. So I just decided to instead opt for putting a little distance and time (not to mention a whole lot of mental toughness in dealing with the cold, wet and shitty conditions) into the legs and just run for 60 minutes…making this my longest run of the off-season so far at 10.66k.
So in that way, maybe I reclaimed a little of my lost pride after having abandoned my planned progression run. After all, it’s not like I saw a whole lot of other crazy-ass runners outside suffering today. Okay, one…but she was a hell of a lot more prepared for the elements than I was and looked as fresh as a daisy so it doesn’t count. Or so I’m telling myself anyway…