5 Songs to Get You Psyched About Mountains

5 Songs to Get You Psyched About MountainsYou’re head­ing out to the moun­tains for some climb­ing or ski­ing, sky­scrap­ers and sprawl in your rearview, and you reach for the stereo. What do you play? What will get you psy­ched for those sen­su­al, snow-kissed peaks? We got you cov­ered. Here are five songs that will get your blood run­ning hot for the hills.

My Proud Mountains
Townes Van Zandt
This wist­ful bal­lad by coun­try music mas­ter Townes Van Zandt has moun­tains on its mind. The nar­ra­tor for­sakes his beloved Col­orado home, “With their proud moun­tains tall,” in favor of hard liv­ing city life. Like most nature lovers, the nar­ra­tor real­izes that urban liv­ing will nev­er com­plete­ly sat­is­fy him­self — he needs the soli­tude of his crag­gy home. In the end, he wants only moun­tains, not sky­scrap­ers, “Tween me and the sun.”

Zandt spent some of his child­hood in Col­orado, the rocky land­scape of which served as inspi­ra­tion for some of his songs. And speak­ing of Colorado…

Rocky Moun­tain High
John Denver
John Den­ver has long been asso­ci­at­ed with his adopt­ed state of Col­orado. Born Hen­ry John Deutschen­dorf, Jr., he took as his stage name Colorado’s cap­i­tal, and his most last­ing song, Rocky Moun­tain High, is now one of the offi­cial songs of the Rocky Moun­tain State.

The sub­ject of the song is the moun­tain as a reli­gious expe­ri­ence. It tells of a young man’s moun­tain-induced epiphany — “You might say he was born again”. It’s a feel­ing that any out­door lover can iden­ti­fy with. “Now he walks in qui­et soli­tude the for­est and the streams / Seek­ing grace in every step he takes.”

Den­ver spent much of his life advo­cat­ing for con­ser­va­tion and envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. The last verse appeals to all lis­ten­ers to pre­serve this land for future gen­er­a­tions. The young man can’t under­stand “Why they try to tear the moun­tains down to bring in a cou­ple more / More peo­ple, more scars upon the land”

Blue Ridge Moun­tain Blues
The Blue Ridge was my blues… An arche­typ­al song, in the vein of Zandt’s My Proud Moun­tains, Blue Ridge Moun­tain Blues is about a young per­son who yearns for the moun­tain­ous land­scape of his child­hood, the Blue Ridge Moun­tains. Whether the Rock­ies or the Appalachi­ans, if you have ever spent time time liv­ing in the shad­ows of moun­tains, it’s tough to live any­where else.

Climb Ev’ry Mountain
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Climb Ev’ry Moun­tain, sung by the Abbess in the musi­cal The Sound of Music, is sup­posed to be inspi­ra­tional advice to the free spir­it­ed Maria, but for me its always touched on the dark­er, obses­sive side of climb­ing. The nev­er-sat­is­fied wan­der­lust that dri­ves peo­ple to spend all of their time and mon­ey pur­su­ing the next peak. “Climb ev’ry moun­tain… / ‘Til you find your dream” — a tall order.

The Cas­cades
The Fleet Foxes
The Seat­tle-based Fleet Fox­es wise­ly chose to record their ode to their local moun­tains with­out vocals — the sub­lime heights of the Cas­cades often beg­gar words. This is a good song to space to while dri­ving. It lets your imag­i­na­tion float along, high above the moun­tains you intend to climb.

The Climb
Miley Cyrus
Whoa, whoa, whoa — hold on, let me explain. Putting America’s most half-baked pop-tart on a list about moun­tain song clas­sics might seem like poor taste — but let me explain! The Climb, writ­ten for Han­nah Mon­tana: The Movie, is one of the great­est state­ments about moun­taineer­ing EVER. It’s intent is to use moun­taineer­ing as a metaphor for life’s strug­gles, not unlike a plat­i­tudi­nous poster you might find in your dentist’s office. But if tak­en lit­er­al­ly, it is a force­ful and poignant mes­sage about the sport’s frus­tra­tions and exultation.

  • “There’s always going to be anoth­er moun­tain” — Bril­liant. For seri­ous moun­taineers, one sum­mit will nev­er be enough.
  • “Always going to be an uphill bat­tle” — In just sev­en words, the song’s writ­ers (Jesse Alexan­der and Jon Mabe — pop stars have bet­ter things to do than write songs) accu­rate­ly suc­cinct­ly sum­ma­rize the nature of the sport!
  • “Some­times you’re going to have to lose” — Moth­er nature is intractable. Weath­er, avalanch­es etc. get in the way of climb­ing, no mat­ter how pre­pared you are.
  • “Ain’t about how fast I get there” — (Unless you’re a speed climber.)
  • “Keep on mov­ing / Keep climb­ing” — Sage advice if you want to gain the summit.
  • “Ain’t about what’s wait­ing on the oth­er side” — A chill­ing allu­sion to the dark side of the sport. Great death is always present with you on a climb, but let’s fol­low Cyrus the Younger’s advice and leave it out of our minds.
  • “It’s the CCCCCLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMBBBBB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” — Shit yeah! An apoc­a­lyp­tic yawp that sums up every­thing you need to know about climb­ing and life.