Awhile back, there was an article reffing certain writers’ favorite “ops tune”–or whatever you call it (here). Ya know, those songs you listen to get amped up before a certain mission, action, or activity? (I feel like Drowning Pool’s “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” is prolly high on a lotta folks’ list.) These tracks are based solely on what flips your switch, so to speak. Could be hardcore old’s cool East Coast Hip Hop (I’m looking at you, Erik B. & Rakim…), or it could be AC/DC. (Somehow, every damn kinetic demonstration I ever watched, and every Hooah Cool Guy recruiting brief I ever attended *inevitably* had an overt music accompaniment of GnR, AC/DC, Def Lep, Led Zep, Van Halen–NOT Van Hagar!)
As an aside, there is no way I could’ve answered Drew’s ops tunage question in any kind of short manner. In the time crunch, I’da just blurted out/confessed: “Peaches – Fuck the Pain Away.” (Judge all you want. I got no pride.)
This logic coupled with emotional charging also holds true for fitness. Can’t flip that big tire without some Disturbed cheering you on? Those post-squat homoerotic high fives and belly bumps go over so much better with any early-era Ozzfest side stage track.
I can dig it. I’m right there with you. (Except for all that lifting heavy shit.)
This using-music-to-motivate concept is just one tiny slice of what is called “anchoring” in Psychology. And it’s old as shit. Anyone working in an ops-related field knows this pre-op process, even if they don’t know they know it.
Isolation (team or individual) and other processes play directly into this psychological “conditioning”; this threshold between two different compartments. It puts us in a place to allow a hyper-focus on intent, and intention, and permits us to focus full attention on a spatial, temporal, and corporeal reality that we want to see come to fruition.
Here’s another [lame] example: You remember that Stallone flick “Over the Top”–the arm wrestling one? You remember how he would turn his ballcap around just before he’d steady in and grip the other dude’s hand, getting himself “into the zone”?
Yeah. That’s anchoring. Some physical process that immediately facilitates a psycho-emotional reaction, that leading directly back to measurable physiological responses/preparations. (In standard Psychology, anchoring has a negative connotation. In Eastern Psychology and Psychology dealing with meditation, concentration, and cognition, anchoring has a different basis.)
The helo infil scene in Predator is another example. And this one actually gives you the ops tune, while the individual team members do their own personal prep. Scots used bagpipes… and Scotch, I assume (but that’s a whole different convo).
So, any physically manifested process (sound, here, being equivalent to a form) that foments mental reaction(s) that foment physical reaction(s). Deep shit, I know. (Barry White and Sade have their own contexts for fomenting physical responses… bit late for Valentine’s Day, sorry.)
In my neck of the woods, warriors have been using these concepts and actions for well over a thousand years. It’s nothing new. As such, the fundamental set-up(s) are both vast and deep. Every active generation added to and refined the pre-existing process[es]; built upon them, and in some cases perfected them.
When you get a chance, hit up some 80s ninja flicks on your preferred network-based video rental platform. Before they go out and do ninja shit, they sit and do this finger-bending thing with their hands. While doing that, they murmur something. That shit is called kuji-in, or “the nine syllables.” It’s based off of Taoist and Esoteric Buddhist rituals that can be best described as “hand yoga.” They mix those physical actions/motions with the repeated lines from stuff they had memorized long before.
What you don’t see, is the shit that’s going on inside their mind (and body). As they line up the upcoming moment with everything they expect to do in that moment, they focus their intention on that moment like sunlight through a magnifying glass burning an ant.
The only real shortfall in this whole setup, is that those ninjas and other Japanese warriors didn’t have something you and I have: Pantera.
Even though this type of Psychology is still used daily, by millions of people all across East Asia, it’s not used so much by the warrior class anymore. Since there’s only about 8 of ’em, and they all got day jobs and bills to pay.
So, with that… let’s move on to *my* list of anchor tunes. Here’s the not-at-all-short answer to Drew’s original query. Peach, sadly, has no tracks on here… but I’d stick with that if I had to answer immediately. Each track is listed–in no particular order–as:
TRACK – ARTIST
*Followed by what I focus on and/or repeat as I listen to it. In the event of me not being able to listen to the exact track, I’ve got them all memorized and can still summon forth the desired effect. (Then I give a somewhat detailed explanation in the parentheses.)
Followed by some lyrics
(If there are any)
That are relevant
To this monologue…
“TOM SAWYER” – RUSH
*I am doing good things. No matter how hard shit gets sometimes[/often]. The end is worth the means. If I die today, I die a good-guy. And my heart will damn sure be heavier than a feather. (If you’re at my wake, memorial, or monument, this is the track you’ll be drinking to. A final testament to my full frontal nerdity. This track is pretty uptempo and heavy, so it also serves as somewhat of a make-shift spool-up track when I’m about to go out and do some typical nightcrawling.)
No, his mind is not for rent
To any God or government
Always hopeful yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is
“ROCK BOTTOM” – UFO
*Life has some very dark sides. Terrible shit happens. A lotta people are bad, and/or make bad decisions. There are many victims of both. And all of them end up in those dark places. You’re going there, but do not stay. (This is when I have to go out and *be* with bad people. It helps me put my mask on. And, more importantly, it helps me take it off again when I’m “home”. When I put this track on, I can feel myself slipping. Feel the dark shit start to creep in and cover me. Feel my standards and level of “acceptable” start to fizzle out. The light *does* reveal your soul. As does the dark.)
With all darkness closin’ in
Will the light reveal your soul
Just one sweet kiss on your clay cold lips
A long sleep you’ll never know
Where do we go, where do we go
Where do we go from here?
“GOD MOVING OVER THE FACE OF THE WATERS” – MOBY
*Everything’s gonna be okay. Really. None of this shit really matters, objectively. (My “cool down” music. I defrag. I actually listen to this at half-speed. Totally changes an already chill-as-fuck track into something positively unhurried. The wave always corrects itself.)
“MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS” – STEVE REICH
*I don’t really think anything when I play this. I just slide into instinct and muscle memory. (I use this to keep my brain from going too deep. It is ultimate pattern music–and, thus, the complete opposite of the music I listen to when I’m deep diving. This is used, as said, to avoid getting too detailed on certain things, or looking too closely; skimming across the surface. I’ve had this track playing hundreds of times, while I laid out my loadout on my tatami floor. If I had a tune to add to Drew’s article, this would be it–not Peaches. Everything by the numbers…)
“ENDLESS” – SHAPESHIFTER
*You are right here, right now. Be right here, right now. Through all your compartments, and all your faces… you are you, and you are right here, right now. (Helps me re-triangulate my overall, objective context. Helps me remember that the forest is trees, and each tree makes the forest. I’ll go days on end playing this on repeat. Running. Writing. Working. Driving. Drinking. Being. Just re-configuring and reiterating. If I had a theme song, this would probably be it…it really encompasses all the boxes I exist in. Side note: This video is about as perfect a tourism video on Japan as you are ever going to see anywhere. Ever.)
As the light decays and the night invades
All I need is time to ease my mind
“BLEED” – MESHUGGAH
*You are Skuld’s razor. Stripped down to cold absolute basics. You exist in this moment solely as the catalyst of perfectly frozen completion. You are Nemesis. (I have every possible potential to bring about your absolute worst fucking nightmare–however slowly and unwittingly you may live that nightmare out. I have lurked there before; am no stranger to it. I do not like being there. But I will slip there with zero resistance if provocation ensues. My heart turns jet black when I am listening to this and preparing. Sometimes, I’ll listen to this on repeat on a long run, prior to “something.” The solo exemplifies my disposition in these moments: serene. I watched a pond freeze once. It’s like that. The driving, pulsive tempo and overly technical, bent melodies manifest the nature of the transaction. The decision has already been made. The course of actions cannot be reversed; the threads unwoven. In this song I am the demon, not the dying. I finalize the causal process that has led the two of us to this point. You have become a number, unbalancing an equation. I may be shitty at math, but this is something at which I have never ever failed. In the absolute blackest parts of my soul, I recognize this as a perfect piece of music.)
Beams of fire sweep through my head
Thrusts of pain increasingly engaged
Sensory receptors succumb
I’m no one now, only agony
“FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN” – COPLAND
*You are a Sentient Being. You are a Human. That means something. Though far from my tightest circle, we are all tribe. (No single piece of music hits me as hard as this one does for feeling…jeeze…”patriotic”? Anthropocentric, maybe? From the first crash, I get a lump in my throat, my spine straightens, and wings of pride in my species rip themselves out of my back–weak links in our species notwithstanding. I am a common [hu]man. We all are. And in a Zen sense, if we all just stuck to our fucking lane and adhered to the Two Tenets of Wyld Stallyns, everything would be fine.)
“THE TEMPERATURE OF THE AIR ON THE BOW OF THE KALEETAN” – CHRIS ZABRISKIE
*My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today. (I have lost someone dear to me. And I will never see them again. My heart is broken. But I am still running. >This is, to me, by far the heaviest-hearted track on this list. It rips my fucking guts out every time I hear it.<)
So that’s the list. Know now that I am a complete music freak. I have hundreds of gigabytes of tunage, spanning centuries. (Millenia if you wanna get real technical about it.) There are a ton of songs that belong on a larger, non-ops-specific, list. And a ton of songs that really helped anchor me during shit that was just life…not ops life.
So here you have the deeper Psychology behind people listening to shit to get pumped up. You have historical examples, and contexts. And you have very personal examples from yours truly.
Hopefully–through this monologue–you can more readily or appropriately engage your decision-making process and the follow-on action(s) on your objective(s), whatever they may be.
And, for what it’s worth, I listened to Snap’s “The Power” on repeat as I punched this ditty up. Everyone should have a soundtrack.
Image courtesy of Gaia Online