Finding songs to put in your workout playlist is always difficult. People usually search for high-intensity, high-energy music that gets them motivated for their 5-K on the treadmill. But what if your workout includes trees, birds, the sun and the sky? A recommended activity for a peaceful workout is hiking. However, listening to trap-style and hip-hop music will certainly not get you into the mindset to be engulfed in the natural elements that are about to carry you through your hike. So, here are five indie-folk songs to listen to on your next hike through nature.
- “Holocene” - by Bon Iver
This ethereal conglomeration of tranquil sounds and melody by the classic indie-folk band, Bon Iver, will make you want to trek up a snowy mountain just to watch a sunset in the crisp atmosphere of dusk. In an interview about the song, Justin Vernon, the frontman of the band, said: “The title is a metaphor for when you're not doing well. But it's also a song about redemption and realizing that you're worth something; that you're special and not special at the same time”, which is a very grounding statement in its essence. The music video follows a young boy wandering through vast parts of nature, curiously absorbing the flora and fauna that surrounds him. This song is perfect for reflecting on a bad day by connecting yourself with nature, whether that be through lying down in the rain or hugging a tree.
- “Naiads, Cassadies” - by Fleet Foxes
Unlike the last song, this Fleet Foxes neo-folk song from their album “Crack-Up” reflects a tone of simplicity and contentment. However, if you take a deep dive into the lyrics, it is evident that the tone of the song is quite the opposite of what the melody offers it to be. According to Genius.com, the title alludes to two different ideas: “Naiads are mythical female water nymphs in Greek mythology. Cassadies is derived from Cassius, a male name that appears frequently in the album”. With the additional explanation from the songwriter saying, “this song is about “the relationships between men and women” and the actual song verses asking questions like “who stole the life from you?”, one can assume that this song has more to do with the frustration between the sexes. But, besides the more depressing analysis of the song, its beautiful melody conjures a motivation to pack a bag and journey through the vast foot trails of America while letting the elements take you away.
- “Scotland” - by The Lumineers
A personal favorite of mine, this foot-thumping song will always remind me of the iconic opening credits to Reign, where Mary Queen of Scotts comes barrelling toward the edge of a Scottish cliff while elegantly riding her stallion. The Lumineers are mostly known for their cute, Irish-folk tunes, but “Scotland” surpassed all other songs with its wildly rhythmic drums, sounding like the start of a battle. This song certainly does not have the same mountain appeal that the others do, but you can dream of the day where you are mounted on horseback in a corset and petticoat. In the meantime, listening to this song at the top of the mountain- the climax of your hike- would be world-changing.
- “La Belle Fleur Sauvage” - by Lord Huron
Switching it up, this Lord Huron song from his album “Strange Trails” gives an extremely lighthearted and wholesome vibe while listening to it. Although the title is misleading, Lord Huron is not an obscure French singer, but rather an American folk artist with a few popular songs, like the song “The Night We Met”, which you might recognize from the hit Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. Most of the songs in this album are about a man being in love with a woman, so the title, translated as “beautiful wildflower” perfectly encapsulates how the descriptions of nature throughout the album symbolize his love and attraction to this one girl. Without looking too much into the meaning of the song, it is a great suggestion to listen to during one of your favorite hiking trails (obviously, since the album is called “Strange Trails”!).
- “Clay Pigeons” - by Michael Cera
Now, I know what you are thinking… “why is this girl recommending Michael Cera?” I promise you need to give this song a chance. Michael Cera may have only had a small career in music, but his cover of Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons” is the sweetest cover you will ever hear. The song is about a person wanting to travel by himself to reassure his purpose in life. Yes, it is a deep song, but Michael Cera’s light voice makes the listen so joyful and filled with fantastic visual substance. The travel aspect is beautiful on the cover, and this song will make you want to buy a one-way ticket across the country and never look back.
Although these artists are only a few examples of the vast musical geniuses in the genre of indie-folk, they are a great starting point to get you into this type of music. In order to further your journey into this genre, I recommend you stick to artists like Lord Huron, The Lumineers and Hozier, with a special shout out to other artists like Sufjan Stevens and John Denver. Hopefully, these songs are added to your next Spotify workout playlist.