Saturday Tracks: Songs for Tough Times

Argent: Hold Your Head Up

Last week’s long run came to an abrupt halt right at the two mile mark. Sharp pain just below my left knee. My left knee has bothered me since I dislocated my knee cap as a kid. Five years ago, I had a scope done to remove torn meniscus and beat up cartilage. I have calcium deposits and arthritis in the knee, not to mention the nice osgood-schlatter disease protrusion on the top of my shin bone. The decision to train for a marathon was with fingers crossed that my left knee would hold up.

I’ve run nearly my entire life, and always with a little pain. The nice thing about running post-scope is that I could do it some days pain free, though its clear my knee is not the same. So, I’m hoping that a little rest will put me in a zone where I can run, even if its with a little pain.

And I’ll hope that the music I run with will help get me through the tough times. Music has a way of doing that.

I got through a particularly tough time in my life in seventh grade with a few anthems that were clearly written for me. Argent, you remember Argent, had this song called Hold Your Head Up. It was on a K-Tel mix album that I bought. It included CCR, Down on the Corner, The Hollies, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, Rod Stewart, Maggie May, the Raspberries, Go All the Way, among others. It was the gateway into adolescence for me. I’m sure I blushed every time the Raspberries came on, knowing that I shouldn’t really like that song. But when the needle dragged across Hold Your Head Up, I was fully in. Like Elaine with Witchy Woman. It gave me some courage.

Supertramp, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, The Eagles, got me through break-ups and other tough times in college. Some because they touched the ache, honored it, made it more real and necessary. Others because they dulled the pain, got me through to the other side. (Journey’s, Walks Like a Lady into City of the Angels, was cranked as high as possible on many occasions).

This past year, Eddie Vedder’s, Ukelele Songs, was just what the doctor ordered, as was the discovery of Florence and the Machine. And I love to sing with Mumford and Sons, “you are not alone in this. You are not alone in this.” Music names the pain and gets you through in ways that little else can.

So, here’s to rest and healing and finding some good running music for the painful miles.

About Mark Love

I am the Director of the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. Part of my job includes directing a master's degree in missional leadership, a situated learning degree. I am married to Donna and have a son, Josh Love, who lives in Portland, OR. With Donna, I have also inherited three great daughters and three amazing granddaughters.
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