Tonight high schools all across Indiana and many other states across the nation kick off another regular season of football. While the passion might not be quite Texas-sized, Friday nights in Indiana are still a very big deal, and the popularity of high school football only continues to grow. In honor of tonight’s games, and my youngest brother’s last first game of his career, I reached back into the archives and dusted off the CD I listened to every gameday of my junior year (I found my senior year pregame mix as well but it wasn’t nearly as good and I really don’t remember listening to it at all). I put the playlist on Spotify, along with a reimagined mix if I were playing this year (which, as any former high school football player will tell you, we all wish we were still playing). While the mixes aren’t used to prepare to “clean someone’s clock” or one of my favorite euphemisms for a big tackle, “make him blow snot bubbles,” anymore they still make for great playlists to work out to.
I had a routine to my gameday, some would say a superstition, and it involved popping this CD into my car and cranking the volume up first thing in the morning. I’d listen to it on the way to school and on my way home in between classes ending and needing to get back to the school for the pregame meal. On my way back I played a very specific sequence that hit the best parts of the songs that got me heart racing – the first 1:26 of “New Noise”, all of “When We Ride On Our Enemies”, the first 1:14 of “Bodies”, all of “Awnaw” and the first 2:03 of “‘Till I Collapse.” If I got to school before I’d listened to each I would wait in my car until it was finished. Then about five minutes before it was time to take the field, I’d listen to another sequence – 0:46 of “Chop Suey!”, the first 0:53 of “Down With the Sickness”, the first 1:26 of “New Noise” again and then “‘Till I Collapse” until it was time to go out. Every time I heard that breakdown in “New Noise” I’d envision myself just about to light up a running back in slow motion and as soon as the music hit again I would hit him full speed. It still gives me chills thinking about it.
A couple other notes on certain songs in the playlist. The “Halloween Theme Song” was first played at my high school during the midst of a lengthy home basketball winning streak and was brought back during another long winning streak while I was in school (complete with a fan dressed as Michael Myers that would walk to midcourt during introductions and stare at the other team). “Victory” was always played on repeat on my car ride home if we won. I dared not hear any part of that song before the game.
A note on the new mix. I’m pretty sure I’d would keep the exact same routines as in high school, except I would swap out “Chop Suey!” and put the first 1:27 of “Ni**as in Paris” in its place.