I am a big believer in the power of music. As a good friend of mine says, music is a religion. Great songs are holy things. But don’t think this big talk is mystic in any way. I reckon you could apply neuroscience to Aristotle’s Poetics.
Art, true art, rewires the brain. One guitar solo can save the soul of the human race. It is a biological phenomenon. We are not talking about simply poetic or emergent properties or concepts here. We are talking about physics and chemistry. We are talking evolution, for fuck sake.
And I need no greater argument than the all important workout playlist. It is my contention (and no I am not really offering it up for debate) that rock and roll and soul music can actually, and I mean literally, boost your testosterone levels. I don’t have any evidence. But I know I will be proved right sometime in the future.
All I can offer up is my own experience. You try running in the night rain through Islington, London, listening to the Rolling Stones. You’re a half hour in and getting tired, then Honky Tonk Woman kicks in and your legs feel like someone injected fire into them, and it’s like your starting afresh.
Or try doing military crunches on your kitchen floor at 9pm, sweating your bollocks off, listening to Jimi Hendrix. You want to die, but then the opening bars of All Along the Watchtower come on and suddenly you're fucking Achilles, and you could do crunches until breakfast.
This is what I’m talking about fellas. So here it is. I have no nutritional expertise. I am not a fitness trainer. But I do have prowess in the field of Dionysian scholarship, so listen the fuck up. This is my Kick-Start Testosterone Playlist.
1.Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones.
Beautiful, gently rising guitar picking carries you into the riff. This song will actually make you think you just stumbled into a Rocky training montage. If you don’t feel invincible just listening to this, then you have no soul. Period.
2. You Can’t Judge a Book It’s Cover – Bo Diddley
Old Diddley Daddy was actually a boxer before becoming a rhythm and blues legend. And it shows. Right from the off this song has an elastic quality, it catapults you into a groove. It is rock and roll at its purest. It’s vintage. You don’t get a backbeat like this anymore. It’s all about the momentum, which is exactly what you need when you are pounding the road at 6am.
3. Mickey’s Monkey – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.
Again, the rhythm will do the work for you. That slick, dragging snare catches you right off. It’s a military beat, contrasting the sweetness of Smokey’s voice. But the song is a dance song, so it is dynamic, it is all about the physicality. And it is joyful too. It will make feeling the burn worthwhile. It’s soul music, so it lifts the spirits as well as boosting your heart rate.
4. Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
Classic. More soul. And this is the ultimate dance song. Music like this is designed to conjure something from nothing. Salvation exists in the fabric of the sound. It’s a riotous movement of a song, and you can’t help but be energised by it. Plus it has the famous, killer break beat, which will make you feel like you have got gasoline for blood when it kicks in. This is on all my playlists.
5. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam and Dave
This song means business. Those horns in the background, and that bouncing beat are like a shot of masculinity in the arm. It’s velvet soul. Great for running to. Maybe put it last on your playlist if you want that finish line effect. Make you feel like The Champ.
6. Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
Well, since we’re talking soul for a bit here…. I recommend putting this song in the middle of your playlist. It will beat anything else for giving you that second wind. James Brown was a fucking scientist when it came to biological music. This man hits your nerves with precision. He knows exactly what he’s doing. This song will dispel any lack of motivation. Does what it says on the tin, quite frankly.
7. People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul – James Brown
You can’t have just one from The Godfather. And this track is quite simply the bomb. It’s positive, it’s powerful and it lasts for fucking ages. It’s perfect music for being in The Zone. A steady, businesslike groove. And the trumpet solos will relight the fire in yer belly at just the right time. This is some voodoo shit.
8. Fire – Jimi Hendrix
And we’re back to the Rock and Roll for the final straight. You will feel the percussive intro of this track in your joints. Jimi plays like Zeus. Hendrix is sheer virility. He’ll give you some of his excess testosterone simply through rhythmic osmosis. The drumming is actually exquisite. This fucking song burns, and if you don’t feel like more of a man working out to this track, then you are eating too much soya, mate. There’s no hope for you.
9. Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones
A heavy, boozy beat, but again, this is sexual music. Everything The Stones do that is good, is sexual music. This is music by men, for men. It’s got a pulse to it. It’s muscular. Jagger’s voice oozes pathos, and Richards's riffs are beautifully sinful. I get battle-hungry after listening to this stuff. It’s Homeric, and must be listened to when you are out of breath and sweating like a god damned horse.
10. Good Times, Bad times – Led Zeppelin
What can I say? John Bonham makes this song. It’s all about the drama, the bravado, the frustrations and delirium of being a man. Remember what it was like to be a teenager? It was like being strapped to a bull, wasn’t it? That’s what Zeppelin are like. If I didn’t know any better, I might think my cock had actually gained a few inches after playing this tune. There’s no mistaking the sentiment. The rapturous rhythm, and the orgasmic guitar, are sublime. In fact, I don’t think a woman has ever made me feel like this song makes me feel. You might be exhausted by this point in your workout, but a song like this will make you relish every punishing burning breath of those last few painful minutes.