Music When Sketchy

Maybe I’m the only one who suffers from this affliction and if so, there will be no responses, folks suggesting that I seek therapy or musical recommendations from others sharing my disease. Regarding therapy, whatever.

I’m curious if you hear music in your head when you are paddling in conditions that are at or near your limit. Maybe music that encourages you to push your limits? Not interested here in hearing about mellow stuff that would be good for canoe freestyle or glassy water paddling. Nothing wrong with that, I just want to know what I am missing out on for edgy stuff.

Personally, I find “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen really good for sporty, get knocked around but mostly in control water. Kinda misogynistic but a good energetic tune fit for play. Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls (Official Video) - YouTube

“Dangerous” by the Doobies is similar. Keeps the vibe up and the sort of confident feel you want to have when you are expecting something, maybe prolonged, approaching your limit but not death defying. The Doobie Brothers - Dangerous (from Rockin' Down The Highway: The Wildlife Concert) - YouTube

“Hells Bells” by AC/DC is the perfect tune for rounding the Brooks Peninsula. Stuff happens there and even zero conditions get your attention. AC/DC - Hells Bells (Official Video) - YouTube

What about you? Let’s not talk about Barry Manilow or music of that ilk. I can’t imagine anyone having “Mandy” going through their head as they are focused on staying upright. What goes through your head when you are in wet conditions that require your full attention or when you are nearly lost in prayer?


Only Michael Bolton for me.

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Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins would be good although I almost never hear music in my head.


Yeah I hear music in my head all the time. I’m amateur musician, and play out sometimes with some of my friends, and also write some music ( none of it any good) so probably more prone to have my brain produce a sound track.
Sometimes when it’s gnarly and I am paddling out through nasty waves I hear a jam section from Last Dance with Mary Jane by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell from one of their Gatorville Concerts. It’s a lot more full bore rock and roll than the original recording. Also hear a Punk piece my friends and I call Jalama, but I don’t remember the name of the band on the old pirated CD we have.

Several years ago I did a few trips with other paddlers to Todos Santos Island, on one trip coming back there were about 15-20 kt tail winds and four foot rolling/breaking wind waves with white horses running all around us. One of the paddlers had only been paddling about a year and she was scared to death. When I came alongside her she was singing opera selections to keep from freaking out. A few of tried to join in but of course we didn’t know the words. So I piped up with Tim O’Brien’s “Out on a Rolling Sea” (I can’t sing worth crap so it was pretty raw). It actually worked pretty well as a sing along with about a half dozen of us pitching and bobbing and downwind surfing back to Bufadora.


Nitro (Youth Energy), The Offspring

Nitro (Youth Energy) - YouTube

Flirtin’ With Disaster, Molly Hatchet


OK Mike.

Once in a great while I can hear the theme from "JAWS°


When in serious situations, a little ditty I learned as a child gets in my head.

‘The Bold Fisherman’

Every times it’s this song…. I feel it’s rhythm and hear it’s chorus

it’s an incredibly moving number, the artist lost her fiancée to the sea a number of years prior and while this song is not directly about the incident, I can’t help but connect them emotionally

The thundering waves are calling me home, home to you
The pounding sea is calling me home, home to you


In extreme situations, if i am on top of my game, there is nothing but what is happening around me that warrants my attention and action/reaction.

When I am ruminating or responding to something is not present, that I think I engaged in “projecting” something onto what is happening around me. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless it reflects fear and impacts action/reaction time.

The first is what I consider a “peak” experience. There is almost no “I”. Just what is.



Grateful Dead.
Especially Cassidy, Fire on the Mountain, Deal, Terrapin Station, Uncle John’s Band. Rueben and Cherise, Sugar Magnolia,

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Yeah. That’s the stuff. You are more intense than I am in those circumstances but I get it.

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The Dead when paddling is sketchy? That’s surprising.

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Really? No kidding? I don’t think that would work for me but OK.

Wow. That is haunting and beautiful. Sad. I’ll put that on my play list , however for my paddling purposes when active paddling is required I think I need something less haunting and more driving.

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Ha yes it’s maybe not the most encouraging selection and It’s sort of strange but the rhythm of the seas is what brings that track to my mind when I’m there.

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Not paddling, but skiing aggressively when I was younger.

Gallow’s Pole by Led Zep


That is a great number!

Don’t laugh, but Row Your Boat. I just repeat it in my head at whatever tempo is needed. That song has a special meaning to me as my Mother taught it to our 4 year old son shortly before she died unexpectedly. I guess it expresses a part of my philosophy on life.

Then there is a song of mine I have on the NAF style flute. The lyrics in my head go like this.

The wind, the waves, the clouds above, the stars up in the sky,
The sun, the moon, they tell me soon, to ride upon the tide.

Sort of the chorus for a sea shanty. The verses can be made up to fit the moment.

Now if I was to listen to something with a driving beat, there are many so I will list just a few favorites.

Jimmy’s version of “All Along The Watchtower”
Loreena McKennitt “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” for that trance like state when your in the zone.
Chirstopher Cross “Ride Like the Wind”
Zeppelin “Whole Lot of Love”
REO “Ridin’ the Storm Out”


This is one of my paddling music favorites (“The Gael”). It was also the soundtrack for a film; The Last of the Mohicans.