Session musician Shadrack Anderson has played with the greats — Little Richard, Buddy Miles, Ray Charles, ELO. But he has a second occupation that may be even more impressive. He is a long-distance runner, currently running all the way across America, from the west coast to the east. And he is doing it backwards. Really.
Mr. Anderson took time from his run to talk to me about what inspired him to run backwards, what he thinks about when he runs, and which musician taught him the most.
What exactly are you doing? How did it start?
It’s the backwards run from San Francisco to New York.
I have been a backwards runner since 1966. I didn’t start doing it; was something that started doing me. I never had any idea that I would run backwards. I never wanted to. I was in a trance when it first happened and when I woke up in the trance I had out-of-body observational of myself doing something that I’ve never done before. What it did to me and for me was gave me increase in all of my five senses. They increased dramatically. And my extrasensory perception is where my first sense in another dimension now starts. It’s absolutely amazing what the human body can do outside of the first five senses that we have.
How do you not bump into things and how do things not bump into you?
First off on the physical it’s observation, awareness, and perception. That’s how I don’t bump into things. But the intuitiveness of feeling and the vibrations of things that are behind me that I don’t see is what the third eye sees for me, in the sense of my feeling picking up vibrations of things at various frequencies causes me not to run into things.
Has running backward made you a better musician?
Yes, it has astronomically. The sensitivity and the capturing of frequencies that I’ve never heard before, and reproducing those frequencies with a touch that is all not harmful, very-very loving and passionate beyond compare.
Where do you stop along the route?
I run 10 to 11 miles a day and I stop wherever that 10 miles or 11 miles’ point is.
Some of those places are in the middle of nowhere.
That’s where I am sitting now, in the middle of nowhere. I started at 2 o’clock this morning and I stopped at 4 o’clock and I’m sitting somewhere where I don’t see anything I could give you a name for. I do know that it’s about 25 miles from Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway.
I don’t know where you are but if you’re on the PCH I can tell you that it’s very pretty.
It’s beautiful and I just passed the lighthouse. The ocean is not far away and it’s foggy and very emotional.
Do you meet people along the way?
Yes, I do I meet all kinds of people from Europe and all over the world who come to Southern California for and it’s very enjoyable to do so.
What is the longest run you’ve done before?
In 2012 I ran from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
That’s a very long run but it’s not nearly as long as what you are planning now. How long do you think this is going to take you?
It’s going to be about 9 to 10 months.
What do you do when the weather gets bad?
I don’t consider those sorts of things. All I do is go.
What kind of shoes do you wear?
I wear Nikes. I have a whole slew of Nikes in my closet.
And what kind of food do you make for yourself along the way?
All-natural, non-GMO, no chemical. no animal products, no animal by-products or no toxic chemicals whatsoever.
I know you have been diagnosed with cancer, but you have said that all you are dealing with is the run.
The run is dealing with me. If I could have had to answer questions in the human form I would be limiting my experimentation with this whole thing. I don’t claim anything with regarding to my body I don’t think about it. All I do is go. And whatever is coming in my future in my distance takes care of me.
As you are running are you hearing music in your head, or are you thinking about memories or are you thinking about your next stop, what are you thinking about?
I don’t think at all. I do have vibrations coming and frequencies coming through me. Those things are not thoughts. They are frequencies that I received and that I had heed to, and sometimes when I can remember them I write them down, but while I am running I can’t do that. I certainly have frequencies coming through me as all human bodies do. Everybody has frequencies going through them whether it’s a microwave or whatever, but I am attuned to the cosmic frequency, not the Earthly frequency or the human frequency.
Was your family a musical family? Was there a lot of music in your home?
My father played piano. He was a self-taught piano player and Baptist preacher. My father brought a piano in the house and said somebody to play it and I wound up playing it. And I listed to John Lee Hooker on the radio.
As a session musician who worked with so many performers, did you have to adapt your style for each one?
No, certainly I love Ray Charles’ style and other musicians’ approach to certain improvisation and things, but I always had a way of doing things myself. When I worked with people they appreciated what I had to offer, and that’s how I hired musicians, based on what they had to offer. And what they had to offer made whatever I did and whatever I did made whatever they did complete because I could add to the meal. A necessary ingredient.
The person that affected me the most was Count Basie. He could lift his right hand and just use his pointer finger and touch a note with such grace that you could see an entire picture or video of the finger coming down to strike the note, and it would strike it so sensitively and it would seem to just flow and blossom like a flower. That’s how he influenced me, just by his touch.
If people see you running and would like to say hi to you, do you want them to stop you and say hi, or do you want them to wait until you’ve stopped?
I prefer that they don’t stop me, but I think it’s very important to understand to note that I I don’t stop but I take my time and fulfil the moment.
And where can people follow you?