So, you’re a few weeks into that 2014 running regime, and your playlist already feels stale. You need some new music to propel you out into the cold winter air. The solution? Call Ben Kaplan.
Kaplan, Toronto-based journalist born in Brooklyn, seems perfectly suited to this situation. After making a name for himself as a pop music writer – contributing to publications like GQ, The New Yorker, Spin, The National Post and others – he’s slowly crafted a new identity as a running author.
This week, the 39-year-old writer releases his first book, the unconventional training manual Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now: The Rogue’s Guide to Running the Marathon.
“It’s real personal,” says Kaplan. “It’s all about the birth of my child, and it’s about my love-hate relationship with alcohol. It’s got everything. It’s training, it’s memoir, it’s interviews, it’s anecdotes. A real labour of love.”
I should mention that I’ve ‘ran into’ Kaplan a few times in my life – in the National Post newsroom, in the stands of a Toronto Raptors game, and on small-town running trails two hours north of Toronto. The man loves to run. I’ve seen first-hand evidence.
In his book, he includes running song recommendations from various musicians he’s interviewed throughout his career. Here, he gives us a sample of that. And, in a little twist, he salutes the artists he’s interviewed by picking one of their tracks for his own personal playlist:
Paul Simon recommends: The Delmore Brothers (any song)
Ben Kaplan recommends: Paul Simon – The Boxer
Kaplan on his pick: “Because when you’re out there, 32k into a marathon, it’s good to remember that you’re in the fight of your life.”
Selena Gomez recommends: Britney Spears – Toxic
Kaplan recommends: Selena Gomez – Come and Get It
Kaplan on his pick: “It’s a monster radio jam. Remember: When making your mix, diversify genre and tempos!”
Moby recommends: Black Flag – Damaged 1
Kaplan recommends: Moby – Natural Blues
Kaplan on his pick: “There was a time around the release of Play when I had stories on Moby going in about eight different places. I still listen to this album and miss New York.”
Jack White recommends: The Who – Baba O’Riley
Kaplan recommends: The Raconteurs – Steady, As She Goes
Kaplan on his pick: “I can’t believe I didn’t recommend this tune in the book. There’s no artist I prefer more – well, maybe Kanye or Feist or Neil Diamond – but there are few musicians I’ll take over Jack White, the king.”
Feist recommends: J.J. Fad – Supersonic
Kaplan recommends: Feist – Mushaboom
Kaplan on his pick: “When Julie and I got married, we walked into the party to this song. Can you listen to this without smiling? Not me.”
Katy Perry recommends: Willow Smith – Whip My Hair
Kaplan recommends: Katy Perry – Roar
Kaplan on his pick: “I don’t know. If this comes on the radio, I might change it. But if it comes on at 36k, I might turn it up. It’s a new tune and untested. Play it with care.”
Will.i.am recommends: Boogie Down Productions – My Philosophy
Kaplan recommends: The Black Eyed Peas – Where is the Love?
Kaplan on his pick: “The most important thing to consider from a running song, to me, is how good it makes you feel. This song makes me feel good.”
Justin Bieber recommends: Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
Kaplan recommends: Justin Bieber – Baby
Kaplan on his pick: “This is a tough one, but I do like this song. It’s light and soft as the heel on a sneaker. A nice rap from Ludacris makes it complete.”