Music Motivates

I am amazed as I talk with and photograph these impressive young men and women who are knowingly and voluntarily preparing to leave their homes and families to embark on a new and probably dangerous lifestyle, a new culture, a new belief system that will forever change them.

But more to the point of this missive, I see the extreme physical effort they exert in their effort to exceed the minimum standards.

So back to my walk-about.

I’m on the second loop, going into my third, feeling sorry for myself, whining about how early it is and how much it hurts, fantasizing about the omelet and cup of coffee waiting for me at home.

I get to the top of the hill; it’s time to run, but I’m sore, whiny, thinking maybe I should just walk this one.

Just then, the next song cycles onto my iPod. As I begin the slow and painful descent down the long hill, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor starts playing.

What music motivates you?

The iconic theme song from “Rocky III” ignites something in me; the music connects to the photos in my mind of those heroic young men and women, those poolees getting ready for the toughest test of their lives.

My pace picks up. Gravity begins to pull me faster. I am propelling down the hill.

I am 18. There is no soreness, pain is weakness leaving the body. I am now flying down that hill.  My feet are barely touching the ground.

When the first words of the song start, I imagine I am–no, I am–Rocky Balboa running down the street: “Risin’ up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances.”

Now the words are carrying me: “Went the distance now I’m back on my feet, just a man and his will to survive.”

As the song continues, I see myself hitting those 72 steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (much easier doing them downhill, but hey, it’s my vision!):  “Had the guts, got the glory, Went the distance now I’m not gonna’ stop, Just a man and his will to survive.”

The music of the guitars, bass, keyboard and drums is pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  “Bom – bom bom bom – bom bom bom – bom bom bommmmm,” the music speaks to me, tells me I will survive this run and anything else the world throws at me. Bring it on!

As I get to the bottom of the hill (top of the Rocky Steps in my vision) I begin to do the victory dance, arms high in the air, still running in place, doing victory circles. I want to yell, “Adrienne,” but my better judgment kicks in and I figure the police will definitely be called if I do that.

The song ends. The adrenaline recedes and I slow my pace as I walk/run back home.

As I do, I wonder how many other people have been equally driven by that song since it was written at the request of actor Sylvester Stallone for Rocky III. He originally wanted to use “Another One Bites The Dust,” but couldn’t get permission from Queen; their loss.

Music. It can soothe the savage beast, or it can take us places we never imagined.

So today, think about–or better yet, play–the song that drives you (I know you have one) and see where it takes you.

Me? I’m going to put “Eye of the Tiger” on loop and go for the Gold.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, who also served until recently in municipal parks and recreation, lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email


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3 comments on “Music Motivates

  1. Carol Kirkland on said:

    I enjoy your column but wanted to point out the correct quotation. It is more often than not quoted incorrectly, so you are not alone–except in your morning jaunts. Carol Kirkland, Admin. Ass’t., Helena MT parks dept.

    The phrase was coined by William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697:

    Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
    To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
    I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
    And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
    By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
    What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
    Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
    ‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
    Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
    The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;
    He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d
    Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
    Why am not I at Peace?

  2. D Reed on said:

    Love this, it made me smile as I thought about how many times I too have had a song pop into my mind just as I needed that adrenaline boost.
    I think one of the funniest things I remember with a song happened at a Mary Chapin Carpenter concert. There were some issues with the concert starting on time, and a rather large crowd began to get very impatient.
    Suddenly the song “Kung Foo Fighting” began very loudly over the speakers and the crowd burst in to song together, making the mood change very quickly to one of excitement and humor. Mary Chapin appeared after the song to begin her concert, and said simply “works every time to calm the savage beast!”

    • Randy on said:

      Hey Carol, thanks for the clarification and it truly points out that music (or “musick”) has driven people through the ages. It is not just a rock n’ roll thing. I appreciate your comment…

      D. Reed: great story! Perfectly demonstrates music’s hold on us…thanks!

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