October 26, 2020 – Name that tune! Earworms, what happens when a song gets stuck in your head.

Billy Joel, would you please get out of my head?! I am tired of hearing about uptown girls and a particular state of mind that you’re in at the moment and only good people dying young. It has been nearly three hours and no matter what I do, I cannot seem to shake you. I need some relief! Please, could you take a break and let someone else have a turn? I’m desperate! I’ll take anything, I’ll even settle for Barry Manilow. Don’t have any of that available? I’ll even take Jazz. I am not a fan but I need a break. But be kind and please don’t start up with Kenny G or I might just jump off a bridge!!

Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever notice that immediately upon waking, some familiar jingle or song that you must have heard at some point in your life starts playing in your head and doesn’t stop? It happens to me every single day. I’ve heard of ‘having a song in your heart’ but ‘having a song in your head’? And the randomness of it all just doesn’t make a bit of sense. Sometimes it’s Ms. Benatar roaring in my ear, “HELL IS FOR CHILDREN!” Oh, this is how we’re going start the day, is it? Great. I’m pretty sure a song about child abuse is just what I need to put me in a nice, positive frame of mind. Oh, yippee! Or it could be Mr. Kool and his Gang singing, “Celebration.” Ok, I’ll take that over the former. At least, it’s upbeat. The thing is, you never know what you’re going to get. What is utterly confounding is that not only do you not know what song you’re going to get from day to day, you never know how long the song will play out. Will it be 20 times or 50 times or 100 times today? One never knows.

Sometimes, I will try and interrupt the current song playing out in my head by throwing in “White Wedding” by Billy Idol or “Doctor, Doctor” by the Thompson Twins but no matter what, it always reverts back to the original song. What the heck? It’s like your brain is a record with a deep scratch in it and the needle keeps wanting to settle into the groove. Once, when I was feeling particularly courageous (or stupid), I tried to interrupt the current earworm with “Mickey” by Toni Basil. Never did THAT again! Have you heard that song? It’ll stay with you for DAYS!! Fortunately, blogging has brought some (temporary) relief. Because I am constantly observing what’s going on around me to come up with ideas, there’s less of a chance for “Here’s the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls” or “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship” to infiltrate my thoughts and wreak havoc.

Do you want to know what will really drive me to the edge of madness? You’d better get out a straight jacket just in case. It’s when the holidays roll around and you start getting ’12 straight hours of your favorite holiday classics’ on the radio. Those are bound to stick. And there are soooooooooo many! During Halloween, you are guaranteed to hear “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, “The Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett or “The Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley. I don’t mind them too much, honestly, because they get far less play time (and don’t haunt me as much) than the songs that start up on November 26 and run all the way through to December 25. Oh, yes, those wonderful nostalgic tunes that take us back to our childhood.

As a child of the 60s/70s/80s, you could always count on Burl Ives to belt out an upbeat tune to accompany one of the many Christmas specials that were broadcast every year on TV. The songs are all quite catchy. “Frosty the Snowman” was a favorite, along with “Silver and Gold” and “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas”. But I have got a real bone to pick with Burl about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. I mean, someone’s got to say something. Seriously, folks. Is it just me or are there others that are tired of Rudolph taking all of the credit for getting Santa out of a bind? There were several other reindeer (that helped Santa complete all of his deliveries in a timely fashion) that get very little mention and that needs to stop. Rudolph didn’t pull that great big sleigh all by himself, after all! And I really question how effective that red nose was. Have you ever walked outside on a very dark night with a (red) lightbulb to guide you? Not very practical and not very effective either. It mainly serves to attract bugs and little else. And, hey, I have another thing I’d like to get off of my chest. What about all of the other ‘unsung heroes’ that never received an ounce of credit for all of their efforts? You know that there had to be a few more reindeer involved in ‘saving the day’ as well. I imagine with all of the ‘leaping off of countless rooftops’, a few of the original reindeer (Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen, etc.) must have developed stress fractures or other injuries that would have put them out of commission for a while. Obviously, ‘someone’ else had to step up when they were recovering. Rumor has it, that ‘Schlitzen’ and ‘Haley’ (Comet’s twin) are pretty unhappy about the whole situation and have filed grievances with their local unions. Santa, I hope you’ve got good insurance coverage.

Look, it’s pretty apparent I have a few issues, ruminating being one of them. I’m open to meds ’cause you know what? “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down.” You’re going to pair it with sugar? Sure, I’ll take a spoonful (or a capsule or a tablet). But I’ll bet big money that even you folks that are much more sane than I am, get an earworm on occasion. Admit it! You know you do!! Between the radio and the TV, you are bound to get one stuck in your brain. Even if it’s only, “Call 888-888-7777. That’s right, folks! Call 888-888-7777, to get help with your finances today! Don’t forget to jot that down! And just in case you didn’t hear us the first 9 times we said it, that’s 888-888-7777. Call now!”

Sorry, I hope I haven’t completely ruined your day. I know that once those earworms take hold, they can be quite persistent. Those suckers have some really strong tentacles that once they get a firm enough grip, it almost takes the skill of a surgeon to remove them. I am trying to embrace the prodigious earworm. I heard if you just allow yourself to surrender to it, instead of trying to quell it, it’s more likely to move on and leave you in peace. It’s almost like what happens when something’s troubling you and you journal about it or talk about it, and you’re suddenly overcome with a sense of relief.

Alas, I think it’s probably time to wrap up this commentary. You’ve probably had your fill of my nonsense by now. And with that thought, I leave you, my friends, with the most beautiful earworm of all time. Are you ready? Sure about that? Ok, ahem (clearing throat). And you can thank Shari Lewis for this one, by the way! “This is the song that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on, my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because!” And, again! “This is the song that never ends…”

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