Friday, February 25, 2011

The Ear-Worm

There’s a tune in my brain
Which will drive me insane
Cos I can’t seem to rein 
          in my thinking
And it’s solace I seek
Cos it’s been there all week
Like my head’s sprung a leak 
          and it’s sinking
It’s just musical fluff
Though it’s catchy enough,
And an ear-worm is tough 
          to dismember
But I’d love to take aim
Cos it isn’t a game
And it burns like a flame 
          or an ember
I’ve been thinking it through
And I know what I’ll do—
I’ll just share them with you 
          in my writing
And I hope you’re inclined
Not to think me unkind,
Cos I hope that you find 
          them exciting
So I tell you, my child,
Here’s a list I’ve compiled—
Though my thoughts have gone wild, 
          this will tame me
My relief is my goal—
If these songs hurt your soul
They’re not mine to control… 
          so don’t blame me!

I have had a few songs going through my head for what seems to be two or three lifetimes just now.  Fortunately, these are songs I actually like quite a bit, so it isn't torture (I could imagine the Hell it would be to have, say, "Disco Duck" forever on the mind--yes, that dates me a bit, but I hope it makes my point).  These songs are a sampling of what's been bouncing around my skull for some while; if you know them, you probably know why.  If you don't know them, don't be afraid to click.  They are earworms... but in a good way.

Mark Twain (of course) did it first (of course) and better (of course), with his short story "Punch, Brothers, Punch".  Before I list my earworms, I leave you with his words of caution:
Why did I write this article? It was for a worthy, even a noble, purpose. It was to warn you, reader, if you should came across those merciless rhymes, to avoid them--avoid them as you would a pestilence.
If he were not dead, I would think he had possibly found my site!

The songs!  To share with you, so as to test Twain's theory...
First, The Decemberists, with "Grace Cathedral Hill"

Then, a bit of honey poured into your ears... Camera Obscura's "Honey in the Sun". I could list a half dozen or more Camera Obscura songs, but this one... *sigh*...

Last one for today (if this works, I may unload another batch sometime)... Parachute Musical, with "One More Song". It was a toss-up between this and "Jacksonville", which is also excellent. Actually, the whole album is, come to think of it.

So, if Mark Twain is right, I may finally be able to sleep tonight with a skull free of earworms. Although you may not have it so easy...


Anonymous said...

A true story, in verse:

I was sitting at the bar
With some friends I'd never met,
When in came the biggest,
Meanest man that I've seen yet.

He ordered up a beer
Then he looked at us and said
"'Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire'
Just keeps running through my head."

"I've a cure for that," I said,
To the wonder of his mates.
With malice in my heart I sang,
"I've got a brand new pair of roller skates."

Cuttlefish said...

You are a cruel, cruel man, Howard.

And I just woke the dog, laughing. Now I have to walk him, damn you.

Anonymous said...

Be careful, Cuttlefish! YouTube is full of Melanie videos. You'll be lucky if you don't start thinking, "You know, she really was a very talented singer."

You do know that your dog loves you?

Cuttlefish said...

I remember her well. Talented, yes. But don't you dare start using weaponized Melanie, or I'll be forced to bring out my sister's old Bobby Sherman 45's.


Anonymous said...

Well, you know, I'm a daydream believer and a homecoming queen.

Bring it on.

Cuttlefish said...

I respectfully decline. Great is the power of the earworm, and I have chosen my examples to use this power for good.

... let them truckers roll, 10-4...

Anonymous said...

"Oh, we've got a great big convoy, . . ."

Damn. You win.

Cuttlefish said...

In a case like this, Howard, nobody wins.


(time for some more Camera Obscura--for medicinal purposes only, I assure you!)

seanahan said...

Grace Cathedral Hill, great song, great album.

Cuttlefish said...

My earworms have good taste.

vanitas said...

My recurring earworm for decades has been parts of the 1812 Overture. Does that make me classy or a classicist?

Melissa said...

I envy you. My earworm is usually "These Boots were Made for Walking." I hate it. I have no idea why that's the one always stuck in my brain. When someone in my family wants to annoy me, it usually starts with that tune.

And now, thanks to the back and forth between Howard and Cuttlefish, I have too many songs in my head. Time to get off the internet.

Cuttlefish said...

I'm so sorry, Melissa.

My own earworm is usually pretty decent--often, Tom Waits, actually. But the cuttlespouse knows one or two evil tunes that could bore their way into my brainstem, which she reserves for emergencies.

It is a cruel world.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, back in the days when I was digging around in the musical basement of the Internet, I found no less than three recordings of "Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher," a version in German, a version in Czech, and an instrumental in Dixieland style by the Burbank Philharmonic.

The real cure for an earworm is to find the most inventive, yet absurd, recording possible.

(Pro Tip: The Leningrad Cowboys, the Red Army Chorus, and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Stairway to Heaven. Guaranteed earworm killer.)

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I offer you
My tenderest apologies
My fingers typed "Michelle," in line
With personal homologies.

They are, of course,
Completely different names.
Like "Harald," "Hal," and "Howie."
It's really not the same.

"Melissa" sings its name;
Music, with a touch of honey.

"Michelle" is simply "Michael"
With an eye toward the money
That the avaricious
Think awaits them
If they flatter Angels
And avoid acting all funny.

But you and I know better,
And "Melissa" is a name
To conjure with, I know and
Yet I'm sorry, just the same.