If you’ve ever seen High Fidelity, then you would understand where the onus for this post came from. Coming up with a top 5 list of anything carries with it a lot of weight and is therefore fairly complicated. Granted, it’s my list and I can change it at anytime; but I don’t like admitting when I’m wrong, so it’s important. When coming up with a musical “top 5 songs to walk to” list, there are a few self-imposed rules one must follow.
- No repeating artist
- Your foot steps should match the rhythm, but the steps are on the downbeat and upbeat… probably left and right, respectively; that’s a pretty good pace. If you have song with a step on every down beat, that’s just too fast.
- This isn’t work out music or mall walking music. This isn’t a bunch of sad bastard Belle and Sebastian either.
- Bee-Gees are OUT. You CAN’T tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man… that’s the problem; I have a limp because of an old football injury. And there is an obvious relationship to John Travolta, hence, exclusion.
This list actually excludes quite a few of my favorite bands. Mainly the field of contestants is dominated, regularly, by funk acts but there are a few surprises in here. Again, this is the music that works for me and my slight limp. Mainly for me the key is for the song to have a bass line you can get lost in; that bass is what makes you feel that you can walk clear from Buenos Aires all the way back to Oklahoma City. Honorable Mention includes, Parliament-Funkadelic – Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the sucker) or anything; Kanye West – Jesus Walks; Queen – Another one bites the dust; Radiohead – A punchup at a wedding; Red Hot Chili Peppers – Parallel Universe (just a bit too fast); White Strips – Conquest (you’ll make it in a list one day); You won’t see Three Day Sabbatical anywhere
- Stevie Wonder – Superstition; you might want to give all the credit to that crazy clavinet riff, but you know it’s that rhythm section. The bass line in that song is so fat and funky and the drums are so clean that it’ll make any limp look good. I heard that Stevie himself recorded the drum part. And when the horns get introduced at 50 seconds in and the bass synchs up with it to carry you into the end of the first verse… just amazing. Incredible Song.
- Wilco – Handshake Drugs; it was almost Muzzle of Bees because of the John Stirratt’s bass line at 1:50; but I can’t include it on this list when it misses the mark until 1:50. Handshake Drugs starts off slow but you know it’s going to have a driving bass right off the bat. A shaker comes in after a couple of measures and you’re off to the races. Glenn Kotche nails this one by closing his hi-hat on every downbeat. I don’t know what the song is about. I’m sure it’s a song about one night in Chicago, the guy is having problems with his woman controlling his life, he goes around town listens to some tunes and purchases some illicit items from some men on the street.
- David Bowie – Fame; it is a funky, funky song for a skinny white boy from across the pond. It seems like British people have an upper leg on rock music, its annoying. Its been said that funk or soul performed by white boys is called “Blue-Eyed Soul”, I don’t know what kind of connotation it has, but what’s not implied with that phrase it the psychedelic nature of this song. The bass line is so basic but it couples perfectly with the kick drum, you just feel it in your throat.
- Beck – Que Onda Guero; For sure this is blue-eyed soul. It’s a song about a white boy “guero” (see yankee/gringo) in some heavily Hispanic area. He’s just cruising around talking with everyone, noticing grandmas with big bags, just a good day. The construction of the instruments in the song switch around a little bit, there are pauses, there is dialog in Spanish, and it’s all done seamlessly. “See the vegetable man, in the vegetable van/ with a horn that’s honking like a mariachi band.” You know from that first line, this song’ll be okay.
- Modest Mouse – Float On; The subject matter of the song is how I try to live my life. It’s just about letting stuff roll off your back, not worrying about the crap that life throws at you, “and we’ll all float on okay.” There is a kick drum driving the song. Never breaking there is a kick on every upbeat and downbeat and the bass is syncopated with it, whilst it continues to change chords. I’m not going to lie, I love the guitar part in this song. It just flutters around from crisp and clean in one measure, to sloppy and trailing in the next measure. Everyone sing, “Even if things end up a bit too heavy, we’ll all float on okay.”