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Music in the Sauna

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The Best Sauna Music

My buddy Danny Sigelman’s post on sauna music motivated me to add on. His big three are: The Hold Steady, Fela Kuti, The Clash. I’d like to add the following to his great sauna music list:

  1. Wilco
  2. My Morning Jacket
  3. Burning Spear

The Commonality of These Three Artists

All three have an uncanny ability to build a rhythm, not often fast, yet methodical and pleasant (Company In My Back- Wilco, Lay Low-MMJ, Mistress Music- BS) then have bridges and breaks, then return to the rhythm.. all analogous to rounds in a sauna. Consistency of rhythm (heat) with breaks and bridges (rounds).

A Great Sauna Music Mix- Shuffle These 3 Albums

  • Burning Spear – Live in Paris ’88
  • My Morning Jacket – Z
  • Wilco – Kicking Television

These three lps all capture the value of great rhythms, complemented by bridges and breaks. All three are recorded live and in the pinnacles of each band’s career. The sounds of each are crisp and solid, and the cheering of fans after one track mixes wonderfully with whichever track comes next in your 3 lp shuffle.

It’s a great feeling how, in your little sauna, you can bring in recorded moments of wonderfully live music, and as the fans cheer, it’s like a cold water plunge after 20 minutes in 180 degree sauna music heat. 3.5 hours of great sauna music. Check it out!

Readers’ Suggestions

Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion and we’ll keep the music playing.

  • Junip, Fields (2010), Sweden.
  • Thievery Corporation, The Richest Man in Babylon (2003), Washington, DC.
  • Toumani Diabati, Ali Farke Toure, In the Heart of the Moon (2005), Mali.
  • Chico Mann, Analogue Drift (2009), Brooklyn, NY.
  • Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Cuba.
  • Daniel Lanois, Shine (2008), Canada.

Try the Sauna Music Shuffle

Whilst enjoying sauna, many enjoy solitude. Perhaps interrupted by intermittent soft conversation, oftentimes just one or two words. Once, in Scandinavia, I went an entire sauna round, the only word spoken was “ya” in response to another pointing at the sauna rocks with the water ladle.

For many of Italian descent, this can be maddening. Music, however, seems to be striking positive vibrations in sauna. Especially the Friday Happy Hour sauna. A good practice may be to encourage sauna guests to submit an album of their choice to be part of a sauna party playlist. Thanks to Rhapsody, Spotify, and the ease of music streaming services, a few albums can be added to a sauna playlist, then shuffled, creating an eclectic, collaborative, fresh musical experience.

Do People Who Enjoy Sauna Also Share an Interest in Similar Music?


This concept was re-pondered between sauna rounds during a recent Happy Hour sauna whilst streaming:

  • Bonobo. British ambient. Female vocal and instrumental inter twinings.
  • Tinariwan: Sahara Desert Blues emanating with a trance from the hot sands of northern Mali.
  • Fela Kuti: a sauna classic. Sisu sonically brought forth through Fela’s power and his 23 member Egypt 80 band members.

There’s Argentina’s Juana Molina and Federico Aubele, who collaborated with Saunatimes mainstay Thievery Corporation. There’s a nod to Scandinavia with Junip and some lighter doses of Bjork and Sigur Ros.

There’s Brazilian Gilberto Gil who stands on his own, surrounded by the friggin’ awesome Milton Nascimento and Jorge Ben. There’s always room for reggae, most notably Lee “Scratch” Perry, dub lps. from King Tubby, Sly & Robbie, Agustus Pablo and artists influenced by this genre like Gorillaz, The Orb, and Daniel Lanois who produced seminal albums by Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson,U2, Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and others.

There’s Americana like Bon Iver, Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket’s acoustic sets, plus The War on Drugs and spin off Kurt Vile. And on a cold rainy sauna day in Ireland, Luka Bloom, Waterboys, and Van Morrison, are chill out partners between rounds in the garden all misty wet with rain.

And there’s more. Just as how we can customize our hot room temperatures and chill out times, with our own sauna we can customize our sauna music. Sweet tides.

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17 thoughts on “Music in the Sauna”

  1. Yes, all the above is saunatastic possible. There is a common musical thread for sauna appreciation: more melody, less guitar… more ambient than traditional rock and roll. “this must be the place” by the Talking Heads summarize a nice sauna round in my book! Music, like a sauna, is open for interpretation and freedom of choice.

  2. Sometimes some old school classic rock can be saunatastic in addition to all the Current Chic bands named above
    Dire Straits
    Tom Jones
    Joe Jackson

    Thoughts on Talking Heads?

  3. There’s something melodically wonderful with Fela Kuti. The Fela Original from Fela! On Broadway is a great place to start.

  4. Downtempo tracks work better than slamming grooves from Oasis, Boss, Who or Zeppelin. Although a nice playlist can be constructed from the quieter tracks from said groups.
    Thank You.
    [For instance].

  5. I like music a lot and spend most of my day both at home and work listening to something. But music in the sauna is an exception that I have only encountered outside Finland. Even at my dad’s farm where we revived a 200 year old sauna, I installed outside speakers to enjoy music outside and just hanging out by the sauna, which happens a lot during summer time, not just for sauna times. But one place that seems to be sacred and where I have never heard music or seen speakers, is the sauna room itself.

    I would not say that being in the sauna – even with the introverted Finns – one needs to be quiet. In fact, in my experience people are pretty chatty in the sauna. But it’s also totally fine to not say anything, that’s the Finnish kind of solitude.

    My vote is no music in the sauna. At least try it for a few times, you’ll get better kicks out of it. I think there’s something analogous to meditation, you’ll want to just relax and take every breath of air with gratitude and let time stop for a moment.

  6. Lefty.

    I noticed a 230 am posting. Now that had to be after round 12 of 16 for the four day weekend sauna bonanza.


  7. I’m a dead head so I love to listen to crispy sound board of a classic show. Its nice to listen to the band weave the magic of their song as I enjoy my sauna.

  8. Our sauna soundtrack last night was a mix of Mumford and Sons, James Taylor, Springsteen, Counting Crows and others played through the built in speakers on my iphone. It was a three rounder, but my son did mention “Hey, dad’s friend Glenn says four is the new three!”

  9. I don’t care what the Finns say, I too love “sonic sisu” in the sauna! Some really fabulous recommendations here. I’ve test driven Bonobo and Tinariwan in my sauna… definitely second those recommendations. Can’t wait to check out the others on this list!

  10. MOZART Yup, the bad boy himself. Mostly the piano concerti. Never the vocal works. All the elegance of an elegant math proof and none of the false flourish of the romantics. Sink into it as the loyly sinks into you.

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