20. “Georgia,” Yuck

Yuck on My Shuffled LifeThe second I hear this song’s first strum of its first chord it transports me here: I’m running on a path surrounded by nature. It’s early March, but unseasonably warm after a cooler day before; the kind of day where you can smell spring: grass, wet from melting snow, mixed with the optimistically musty scent of fresh mud.

I’ve never been in this place before and I’m transfixed by the beauty of it all, the first blue-skied, almost warm day of the year, mixed with the unfamiliarity of the setting, the sun sparkling white on the ravine below. I’m alone and smiling, running, looking up to the blue sky and holding my arms wide to soak it all in. The kind of thing I’d only do when I’m alone. I’ve forgotten about the fact that I’m about 13K into a run that is not even halfway over yet.

Why was I running such a long distance – over 30K that day? I was at the peak of my training for the 2012 Boston Marathon – my first marathon. I’m not going to write about that here. I’ve already expended many, many, manymanymany words on that beautifully brutal experience.

The story of my obsession with this song and this band, and how it came to be that I heard it at that moment, goes back about a year earlier. The first time I heard of them was on a podcast: the Pop Candy Podcast, hosted by Whitney Matheson, Chucks-wearing writer of my all-time favourite blog, the sadly defunct Pop Candy. (I’d link to it, if it’s still there, but I don’t want to give USA Today any traffic after what they did to her.) She played “The Wall” and I loved the retro-90s, fuzzy guitar and melodic vocals, Dinosaur Jr.-ness of it all. Then I heard comedian and music aficionado Jonah Ray mention them on a Nerdist Podcast. So the music gods were clearly trying to tell me something about this relatively obscure British band: Get thee to iTunes! And with that, digital and aural joy was downloaded into my life.

That was March of 2011, I believe. I had resolved that I was going to run that mother of all marathons the next year, as a charity runner through work, and determined to start my training the day after the 2011 Boston Marathon, which was mid-April. It was a Tuesday, as all days after the Boston Marathon are. The first track of Yuck’s self-titled debut album, “Get Away,” was the first song I heard on my first run of training. Almost 11 months later, I had graduated from lugging my phone along on runs to a lightweight iPod Shuffle, much thanks to a sympathizing friend, also a runner, who would run the 2014 Boston Marathon. And I made sure a bunch of Yuck songs were on my playlist. I still loved the album and had seen them play an amazing live show opening for Tame Impala (odd side note, that was the night Osama Bin Laden was killed and it was Tame Impala who hesitantly announced the news to a confused crowd at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre). Their music had carried me through 11 months of training, with distances getting longer and longer through hot summer months, through nasty shin splints, then the cool autumn and painfully cold winter days in wind, snow and freezing rain battering my face and unsteadying my feet. And their music was going to see me through to the end.

That’s how “Georgia” wound up being the soundtrack of that March 2012 run on that unseasonably warm day, running a path I’d never run before because I’d never run that distance before, so far away from home. And it reminded me how far I’d come, not just from my house on that day. I’d learned so much about my own strength – even more mental than physical – enduring what I’d endured over that year. I’d gone from 20-minute runs the year before, probably about 3K, to a distance 10 times that, as ready as I’d ever be to run Boston and its hilly 42.2 K… on an even more unseasonably warm day that will forever rank among the best of my life. (Seriously, read my marathon blog if you haven’t already!)

Listen to this awesome song!

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