II admit that I get a little frustrated with skiers and boarders blasting down the mountain with earbuds in. I understand wanting to hear tunes, but I prefer to keep the tunes inside my head, and let my brain come up with whatever seems right at the moment. I remember being on lead on a multi-pitch rock route once and not being sure of where the route was supposed to go; my brain started singing "Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons. I can remember on at least one other tough lead hearing Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' With Disaster" in my head.
I do, however, have a few tunes I love to listen to that have a mountain theme of some sort. Here's what I like to listen to when I revel in the glory of Colorado's mountains:
1. "Fear of Falling," The Badlees (River Songs)
If you're a climber, or a hardcore skier, or even a mountain traveler, the line "I have no fear of falling, but I hate hitting the ground" instantly appeals to the secret soul. The band also sets the scene with the first line, "Last night I dreamt of flying over hillsides in the snow."
2. "'Round the Wheel," String Cheese Incident ('Round the Wheel)
They met in Colorado ski towns like Crested Butte and Telluride. All of the members are good skiers, something they proved in the documentary film "Waiting for the Snow to Fall," which mixed footage of the band tearing it up at Telluride with concert footage. The group's origins date to 1993, when they started playing to get money to cover lift tickets. Several early tours were built around being able to ski during the day and play at night. This song, from the album of the same name, has become my mantra this season. The first line, "I've been waiting for the snow to fall, and cover us all," says it all.
3. "Rocky Mountain High," John Denver (Rocky Mountain High)
Love him or hate him, Denver will always be associated with Colorado, from the songs he wrote that celebrated the mountains around Aspen to the Doonesbury cartoons of Denver getting into confrontations with Duke by a creek that separated their properties. "Starwood in Aspen," with its line "My friends are the snow-covered hills," is up there, but ultimately the best is Denver's "Rocky Mountain High." Yes, the lyrics can refer to being stoned to the gills, but it's also got beautifully poetic lyrics like "He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below, he saw everything, as far as you can see," and "Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams, seeking grace in every step he takes." There will always be a part of me that thinks this song captures why the mountains have such sway. This video, which sets the song to a slide show of Colorado images, shows why.
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4. "Landslide," Fleetwood Mac (Fleetwood Mac)
Stevie Nicks wrote the song in Aspen, at a time when she was considering abandoning music and going back to school. Despite the mixed metaphor (a landslide wouldn't bring the snow-covered hills down, an avalanche would) it's such a beautiful song, and Nicks always sings it with such passion.
5. "Shotgun Down the Avalanche," Shawn Colvin (Steady On)
There's something about the imagery, matched with Colvin's simple fingerpicked line, that sets a perfect mood for climbing and skiing trips for me. "I'm riding shotgun down the avalanche, tumbling and falling down the avalanche, So be quiet tonight, the stars shine bright, on this mountain of new fallen snow . . " Colvin's recorded version, which has added instrumentation, isn't as powerful as her solo live renditions.