10 to Spin | Ha Ha Tonka

Photo by Todd Roeth

No, we’re never gonna have much
Myself I’d take such 
as a compliment
We can blame it on the circumstances
Oh, at least we took the chances
we had to

Why we’re attracted to a certain song, a certain album, or a certain band is a mystery. I really do believe that.

I had seen Ha Ha Tonka live three times, never really coming away with much of an opinion, before I listened to “Lonely Fortunes” one night off their stellar 2011 album, Death of a Decade.  And finally, the greatness of this band from Springfield, Missouri became clear: I had connected on a deep level.

Let’s take a few minutes to re-visit the magic.

I now consider Ha Ha Tonka a “go-to” band when I need something to get me focused, or when music isn’t really speaking to me. Because I know when I hear the first few notes of songs like “Usual Suspects,” “Up Nights,” or “Westward Bound,” I’m convinced that I’ve solved a small part of music’s mystery — that there is something out there for all of us to discover and hold on to.

We’re pleased to the bring you the latest playlist in our 10 to Spin series: Ha Ha Tonka.

When I was in high school in the 1990s, I ran cross country and the distance events in track & field. Our team was called the Zizzers and our mascot was a lightning bolt. I was on a few 4A State Championship teams and was All-State in Missouri. I was also friends with the two German foreign exchange students and worked on the school magazine. Needless to say, what with my 110 pound frame and dangerously short-shorts, I was cool and had a lot of sex. Well, I’m in a rock band now and the playlist I’ve compiled is loosely about running and the 1990s. Don’t worry…Backstreet is NOT back (quite). –Brian Roberts, Ha Ha Tonka

Race for the Prize – Flaming Lips

This song should be track 1 on the next mix-tape we send off into outer space. It heralded the end of a millennium and the beginning of another. That ain’t hyperbole, it’s just that awesome.

The Distance – Cake

I made out to this song in 1997 with a pretty awesome girl….second base, no biggie.

Running Down a Dream – Tom Petty

I studied pre-algebra & algebra 1 listening almost exclusively to Tom Petty. I’m still trying to forgive him.

Band on the Run – Paul McCartney

Say what you will about Sir Paul, the man has pipes and can write a tune….”Dance Tonight” excluded, of course.

Running to Stand Still – U2

Bono may or not be the second coming. I’m more than a little worried as to what his opinion on that matter might be.

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

I know this came out earlier than the 90s, but tramps will always be born to run.

Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band

Again, this pre-dates 1990, but I had the SMB Greatest Hits CD in high school and I still listen to it to this day. I think I paid $17.99 for it so I guess I’ve got my money’s worth.

Run-Around – Blues Traveler

10 songs…jeez, I’m reaching a little here, but I always forget how cool Blues Traveler was/were in the mid-90’s. We opened for them a couple of years ago and they were really nice guys to boot.

We Are the Champions – Queen

The ultimate power ballad…perhaps the only song worthy of the “power ballad” moniker. This song was only played whenever we won State. I revere it still to this day.

Nightswimming – R.E.M.

Obviously this would be post-race and sneaking off from some high school party. It could well be my favorite song of all-time. It always puts me in a nostalgic frame of mind.

Listen to Brian’s playlist on Spotify here.

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