Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Malignant Earworms

crossposted at newcritics

Sunday. Like too many others these past twelve months, I was in the Atlanta airport. Minding my own business, but a prisoner. A captive to television stations I don’t want to watch, and canned music I don’t want to hear. ( I could rant for days about being force-fed music and television in public places, but I think I’m in the minority. Most people don’t seem to notice or care.) Still, I was in a relatively good mood considering the current circumstances. Going on the road until Friday, and then doing it all over again next Sunday. My destination was the DC area, and I’ve some good friends there. Plus, I like the hotel and the local restaurants. Hey, you gotta find something good about every situation, right?

Anyway, I’m walking to my departure gate, and it happened. If I was in my car, I might have hit the button in time, but as it was I had no choice.

First the opening synthe part. I liked it went it came out back in ’80. I ran out and bought the record. I didn’t know then that 27 years later, that song would be one of 20 or so malignant earworms. Had I known, I would have never, ever bought it. Not that it would have made any difference - but on principle I'd rather not have spent the money.

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free
Can you be?

BANG! I know when I've heard that far into the record, I’m dead. Tried, judged and sentenced to 3 weeks or more of that song, stuck in my head - stuck like a window that was painted shut some 10 years ago. Stuck like a derailed zipper on an old, favorite jacket. Stuck there, and damn pleased about it.

My friend Todd once told me of a sure-fire cure to malignant earworms. He said, “Just close your eyes and sing the theme song to The Flintstones. Sends it packing every time.”


When you're
With the Flintstones
You’ll have a do time
A dabba doo time
You’ll have a gay old time!

(If I got the words wrong - sorry. You get my drift.)

Not sure if I’d prefer that, but it doesn’t matter. That might work for a benign earworm, but this sonofabitch, through natural selection over many years of airplay, has evolved a resistance to all known antiwormotics.

I’ve tried playing some short-timers, perhaps one of the new Ian Hunter tunes?

T-shirt with the maker’s name
Can’t believe you bought it!
Brainwash, brainwash – you’re still fallin’ for it!

It works for a little while, but the cursed thing is not going down that easily. He's just resting in the corner, sharpening his nails so he can dig them in even deeper.

My Sharona? Not a chance.
Dedodododedadada? Impotent.
What’s that? Funky Town in a TV commercial? An amateur.

I go to sleep with it ringing in my ears. If I wake up in the middle of the night to return that last glass of wine, it starts up on the way to the bog. And, it keeps me awake for an hour.

When I get up in the morning and I step in the shower, there it is, like an unwanted guest pushing his way into my house, ignoring my pleas of in-laws visiting and plans of re-arranging my sock drawer.

Why only some songs? I mean, I always have a song in my head. Always. Some stick around for an hour, others maybe a day. But some, like the aforementioned, set up shop and linger for weeks. Why?

I guess I should count myself lucky. My cousin told me she once had Truckin' stuck in her head for 8 months. Yeah, you read that right. 8 months of

Dododododododododododododododo ...Truckin!

Some others that do it to me:

She’s a Beauty – The Tubes
Gaucho – Steely Dan
Real Men – Joe Jackson
Every Morning – Sugar Ray
Don’t Bring me Down – ELO

Lots more too. You think one of them, because I mentioned it here might topple the current resident? I can’t be sure, but I’ll be just as unhappy if it does. Especially if it's ELO.

Does anyone have a cure? Does anyone have their own malignant earworms that they care to share?

When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know your pain. Each morning when I awake, some song will be playing in my head. Most of the songs pop up out of the blue. I haven't heard the song recently except perhaps unremembered in my dreams. I know that one night I dreamed about Christmas and when I awoke in the morning a Christmas Carol was merrily singing away in my head. However, I did not receive it merrily. I find this quite annoying. Sometimes the same song will repeat for several days, suddenly be replaced by another, only to return a week or so later. Some songs are recurrent; some are not. Some play off and on all day; some do not. This is something relatively new to me. It has just started about a year or so ago. Please tell it to go away!
Plaqued in PA

3:54 PM  

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