Lost In The Shuffle, Vol. 4: Workout Special

I know, I know, I owe people a deep dive soon, but tonight I need a stiff drink and a random playlist…

The concept of LITS is simple: Hit the shuffle button on my old iPad, listen to ten songs chosen by whatever random number generator Apple uses (which could end up being anything from sizzling singles to deep album cuts to songs not even remotely related to country music), make a snap judgement on how good or bad the songs are, and produce a highly-subjective ranking of the impromptu playlist.

Since I’ve been playing so much Ring Fit Adventure lately, I figured I’d tweak the criteria this week: Which of these songs would work best on a workout playlist? Some songs, as good as they one, you just can’t do squats to, so let’s see if my music library is up to the task.

Is this silly and without purpose? Absolutely, but it’s also a chance to potentially introduce folks to some different songs/artists, and potentially introduce people to some great material that they had forgotten or missed. Without further ado, let’s hit the play button and see just how wacky my musical library really is.

The Contenders

Song #1: William Michael Morgan, “Somethin’ To Drink About”

…It’s a little unorthodox, but let’s roll with it.

This is an album cut from Morgan’s debut album Vinyl, and honestly it’s one of the weaker tracks: The subject is overdone, the lyrics are generic, and Morgan’s delivery feels a little too serious for the song. It’s got some kick to the guitars and the drum line, however, and it creates enough of a motivational “keep on working” vibe that might actually make it work for a tough plank set. The people Morgan talk about are tough, hard-working folks who are just fighting through life, so gosh darnit you can fight through those wide squats! While I’d rather listen to “Missing” or half a dozen other tracks from this disc, given my additional criteria, this isn’t a bad start to the round.

Song #2: Darryl Worley, “If Something Should Happen”

On the flip side, this is a better song outside the gym than inside it.

Worley sunk his career forever by tying himself to the Iraq War with “Have You Forgotten?”, which is too bad because he put out some decent material in his prime, including this #9 hit from the self-titled 2004 album. It’s a song that showcases some real emotion and vulnerability, and the fear of the unknown (especially the medical unknown) can get to the toughest of us. However, when I’m in the middle of a thigh stretch, the last thing I want to think about is “If Something Should Happen!” The tempo and energy levels are a bit too low for thigh presses and a bit too fast for yoga, so I’d rather not hear this one come up while I’m trying to get buff.

Song #3: Brad Paisley, “Mr. Policeman”

There’s such a thing a too much energy for a workout song, and this thing could be downright dangerous!

In a vacuum, I love this album cut from Paisley’s 2007 album 5th Gear: The production is rocking and the musicians are on point, the chase-scene setup is the perfect combination of fun and danger (unlike “Moonshine In The Trunk,” this is not a drill), Paisley nails the carefree-yet-cocksure narrator, and the energy level is through the roof. A song this lit, however, could really get into your head and push you to overexert yourself (“More weight! Moar!“), potentially leading to an injury. As someone who is particularly vulnerable to musical energy and far too weak to really do much in the gym, I think this one might be a little bit above my multiplayer rank. It’s still a great song, just not for this task.

Song #4: Alan Jackson, “You Go Your Way”

So now we’re faced with a question: Is it better to bring too much energy to the table, or too little?

Objectively, this #41 single from Jackson’s 2012 album Thirty Miles West is pretty decent: The throwback neotradtional production is always welcome, Jackson does a nice job in the role of a wounded-but-realistic narrator in the throes of a breakup, and while it’s not a barnburner, it doesn’t plod either. The melancholy mood, however, isn’t terribly motivational when you’re fighting through a set of chess presses, and is more likely to make you stop and wonder what the purpose of all this exercise is than push you towards your fitness goals. I like this song, just not when I’ve got thirty miles (west) to go in a spinning class.

Song #5: Easton Corbin, “Like A Song”

Et tu, iPad? What, are you going to play “Go Rest High On That Mountain” next?

I’m one of the ten people that actually went out and bought About To Get Real back in 2015, and I still hold it up as an example of Bro-Country done (mostly) right. “Like A Song” is the album closer and the closest the album gets to Corbin’s neotraditional roots, and it’s a solid tearjerker with a sad, sympathetic narrator and some great piano and steel guitar to set the mood. In other words, this is the last thing I want to hear in the middle of a set of knee lifts: I’m already sweating, I don’t want to eyes watering and making me even more dehydrated! This is a song best consumed while in a comfy chair in a dimly-lit room, not while on an exercise mat while you’re trying to get your downward dog pose right. It would be a contender for a normal shuffle post, but not for a workout special.

Song #6: Brooks & Dunn, “Neon Moon”

…You know, I think we can make this work.

This is a #1 single from B&D’s 1991 debut Brand New Man, and it’s cry-into-your-beer-to-get-over-a-breakup setup might just have a place in the fitness world. The guitar and bass work give the track a real soothing feel, the fiddle and steel add some welcome flavor, the drums keep the song moving without feeling too obtrusive, and let’s be honest: Ronnie Dunn’s voice could melt butter from a half-mile away. It wouldn’t work for a more-active exercise, but for a light stretching set or a yoga session, this could really help get your into your zone and help you focus on your technique. It’s a song to help you forget, and that’s kind of what you need when you’re trying to block out your daily distractions and get your form right. (Honestly, I could see this working well for a meditation session as well.)

Song #7: Roy Clark & Buck Trent, “Black Mountain Rag”

Bluegrass to the rescue! This is an obscure track from an obscure 1978 album featuring two of the greatest banjo players in country music history, but it’s the sort of short burst of energy that you really use during aerobic exercise or strength training. The banjo and fiddle work is fantastic (obviously), the uptempo, rhythmic quality of the music gives you something you can tune your body to, and the fact that it’s an instrumental minimizes its distraction quotient. Even its short runtime is a positive, as you can use it for a quick burst of energy during a single set of reps of whatever you’re doing.  Once again, this song proves that bluegrass music can make just about anything better. 🙂

Song #8: Jason Aldean, “Night Train”

Aldean’s got plenty of hard-rocking tracks that would slide easily onto a workout playlist (“Lights Come On,” “Take A Little Ride,” even “1994”), but the title track from his 2012 album isn’t really one of them. It’s slower and lacks the instrumental punch of the aforementioned tracks, and Aldean isn’t the most motivational artist in the genre. It’s a song that’s more about being stationary than being active, and it won’t do the job when I’m staring fifteen more planks in the face and the abs are two seconds from going on strike. It’s not a terrible choice, but it’s not a good one either, and I’d be tempted to reach for the ‘Skip’ button here.

Song #9: Patty Loveless, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”

This track, from Loveless’s 1993 Epic debut Only What I Feel, reached #3 on the charts and is generally one of my favorite Loveless tunes, but I do not want to hear this start playing halfway through my overhead presses. It’s an unapologetically-sad song that drags the listener over the hot coals that are an early-life move, a traumatic breakout, and a lost parent, and it drains you of your energy rather than replenishing it. It’s also a very distracting song because it invites you to ponder and reflect on its source material, which isn’t great if you’re trying to correct your tree pose form. I need “I Try To Think About Elvis” or “Blame It On Your Heart” to get me through my exercises, not this.

Song #10: Trace Adkins, “634-5789”

Not a bad way to end it, if you ask me!

This is a forgotten album cut from Adkins’s 1996 Dreamin’ Out Loud debut, and honestly it’s a better fit for a workout routine than most of the actual singles (“I Left Something Turned On At Home” is the only one that come close). It’s not really uptempo, but it’s got a great groove and some serious positive vibes to recharge your body and mind after a tough session. I’m not sure how much it’ll get your heart rate up, but the rollicking neotraditional mix and Adkins’s underrated charisma are the perfect remedy to get you back on your feet. It’s a good closer for the cooldown stretch, and a solid chaser for this blog post

The Results

Position Song
1. “Black Mountain Rag”
2. “634-5789”
3. “Somethin’ To Drink About”
4. “Neon Moon”
5. “Mr. Policeman”
6. “You Go Your Way”
7. “Night Train”
8. “If Something Should Happen”
9. “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”
10. “Like A Song”

Overall, I think I’d call this a “meh” playlist for an exercise routine: Only one or two songs really fit the mood, and the others were either situational or completely unsuitable for the task. Still, it’s nice to give Clark & Trent a shoutout, and they’re more than welcome to come along for the ride the next time I fire up Ring Fit Adventure. Let the banjos roll!

2 thoughts on “Lost In The Shuffle, Vol. 4: Workout Special

    1. Honestly, I think the list would mostly flip: Corbin, Loveless, and Worley would be near the top, Adkins and Morgan would be near the bottom, and Clark/Trent would probably be middle of the pack. Paisley, B&D, Aldean, and Jackson wouldn’t move that much.


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