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Breakers Roar.

One perk of running is that I find myself closely attending to the lyrics and stylings of songs in a way I do not otherwise. (Recent listenings to a Bob Seger track I have known for years prompted rich introspection.) On this past week’s runs, I have fallen, hard, for Sturgill Simpson’s uptempo arrangement of “Breakers Roar,” a track originally from his gorgeous 2016 album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” which is as weird and experimental as it is brilliant and soul-rending. Sturgill has described the album as a letter to his infant son, and listening to it from that lens is like tiptoeing on heart-strings. “Breakers Roar” sings like a haunting and cautionary lullaby on his first album; in its bluegrass re-styling on his just-released “Cuttin’ Grass” album, it moves me in a different way: Simpson’s high, twangy, lonesome wail cuts against the upbeat instrumentation and I can think only of his lonely search for meaning in a world that he finds perilously wounding.

Bone breaks and heals
Oh, but heartaches can kill
From the inside, so it seems
Oh, I’m telling you it’s all a dream

And then this couplet, which runs counter-narrative and catches in my throat:

Shatter illusions that hold your spirit down
Open up your heart and you’ll find love all around

At the risk of playing Pollyanna, this refrain has proven a useful mantra in reforming my occasionally gloomy and ungenerous thoughts throughout the day. When I find the clouds gathering, it helps to focus on the Helena Stories, and even the tiniest traces of them: the elderly couple holding hands on a nighttime walk around the block; the donut hole my nanny saved for mini as a special treat; even the brief text from a neighbor: “nice to say hello today,” he wrote, after we waved to one another from ten feet apart, me hovering in my door frame to afford him a wide, COVID-era- friendly berth, him shuffling into the elevator.

Open up your heart and you’ll find love all around

What have you been listening to lately? What songs are worth a “close read”?

Post-Scripts.

+I was arrested by the unfussy-cool “normcore” vibe on the chic pea above and have added this similar sweatshirt in the bronze color to my cart.

+On the opposite end of the spectrum: this delightful floral running hoodie.

+Some more of my favorite running gear at the moment in the post-scripts here.

+Other tracks on my current (eclectic) running list, which is titled “Chasing Flow,” a reference I assume you will understand (?). I should note that I like running to songs that either move me (like Sturgill’s song above) or simply have a good beat to run to (and whose lyrics are basically immaterial to me).

“DREAMS” BY FLEETWOOD MAC

“34 + 35” BY ARIANA GRANDE

“IT WAS A GOOD DAY” BY ICE CUBE

“ROSES (IMANBEK REMIX)” BY SAINT JHN

“STUNNIN'” BY CURTIS WATERS

“MIDNIGHT SKY” BY MILEY CYRUS

“LITHIUM” BY NIRVANA

“PURE WATER” BY MUSTARD & MIGOS

“DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT” BY JUBEL

“FEEL SO GOOD” BY MASE

“HEY GIRL” BY LADY GAGA FEAT FLORENCE WELCH

“FADE” BY KANYE WEST

“BACK IN THE SADDLE” BY AEROSMITH

“THE WAY YOU MOVE” BY OUTKAST

+An entryway shoe rack with clean lines and fun colors.

+I remember clearly the day I bought a pair of gray New Balance sneakers in college — it was a micro-trend at the time among my preppy sorority friends to pair them with denim from James or Citizens. It was a lot sportier than my usual look but I leaned into it with abandon. I’m tickled by their resurgent trendiness, especially in their collaboration with Staud. I’m eyeing this pink pair and this navy pair for myself, to pair with mid-wash denim, a hoodie, and a long wool coat.

+Speaking of coats, I am in fact obsessed with this denim puffer.

+Cutest kitten mittens for little paws.

+Holiday gifts for men.

+For those of you with backyards and beautiful trees: a tire swing! I would have loved this as a child.

+Faux shearling teddy bear suit for a baby for $25 (comes in four colors!) and I’m swooning over this knit bonnet for an itty bitty girl.

+This shearling Patagonia parka is so snuggly for a little girl.

+Studio McGee always has such chic pieces in their collaboration for Target, several of which I would add to this roundup, including this decorative box.

+Harry Potter cookie cutter set!!! Mr. Magpie and I re-watch the series every few years around the holidays, and we just started with the first one.

+Chic quilted jacquard hoodie.

+Gifts from small businesses (many will be launching promotions this week).

+Can we all agree that starting tomorrow, it’s officially OK to start decorating our trees?

+Some memories from a memorable trip abroad.

+Still one of my favorite holiday finds this year — I bought them in all three sizes. If those are too fussy for you, I also love these Scandi-chic wooden trees (look for less with these).

+More holiday decor finds here and here.

8 Comments

  1. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac — oooh LOVE that song!

    I also love the cover performed by The Corrs, the Irish sibling group (from the late 90s/early 2000s if I remember correctly). I’m not a runner, but back when I used to work out more this was on my playlist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BglEyv5O2Y

    …as well as the cover by Dana Williams and Leighton Meester. Just their voices, acoustic guitars, and simple percussion. Their duet is not quite running-friendly, but more suited for a relaxed evening. I didn’t think I could see Leighton as anyone other than Blair Waldorf — didn’t realize she was musically talented! She and Dana harmonize so well here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9UFhEifTEg

    Other tunes I love for workouts (or let’s be honest, impromptu dance parties in the living room):
    Pure Shores by All Saints
    Say It Right by Nelly Furtado
    You Gotta Be by Des’ree

    Dancing in the Moonlight puts a pep in my step! Such a happy song.

    Thank you for sharing your playlist, Jen!

    1. Hi Katie! Such a good idea but alas I am one of the three remaining people in this universe that does not use Spotify 🙁 We use Apple Music in these parts.

      xx

  2. Love your eclectic run/workout playlist. I’ve been on an early Kanye kick.

    As for songs I’ve been given a closer listen to — Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road remains a perennial favorite. The line “show a little faith, there’s magic in the night” struck me the other day. Life has felt decidedly un-magical this year and it was a good reminder to hold on and enjoy even the simple pleasures of blasting music in the car or a particularly glorious sunset or whatever it may be!

    1. Love that, Molly – reading those words sent a happy little shiver down my spine. Magic in the night for sure!

      xx

  3. Love that Pure Water is on your soundtrack! My running/HIIT/workout playlist is about 400 songs of aggressive hip hop and rap, and you best believe Pure Water is on there 🙂

    1. Oh YES. It’s funny you say that, because for years, my running/exercise playlists have been 10% pop, 10% country, and 80% hip hop and rap. This most recent mix is uncharacteristic of me, but I guess with age I am softening into classic rock? Who am I?!

      xx

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