Music Matters for May 13th 2011
They appear out of nowhere. They can strike so quickly, you will have one and not be aware of it until it is too late. They can be both pleasing and heinously irritating. They can drive you crazy because you can’t remember their names, and no one, no one, is immune. I am referring, of course, to the dreaded Ear Worm….
Judging from my own personal experience, Earworms are individually hand picked by your brain when it has nothing else to do. Theoretically then, they would occur more frequently in politicians, airline pilots, and drummers, or maybe left fielders, news anchors, or McDonald’s employees. Frequent or not, they do happen to everyone. You will find yourself humming along before you realize this little piece of music has attached itself to your spine and is on repeat in your head, an uninvited guest invading your personal space without so much as a “Hello, mind if I play over and over in your head until I make you drive into a tree?” or “Guess what song I’m from, you aren’t doing anything else.” Even if you luck out and it’s a fragment of a song you actually like, it can be as annoying as finding Ryan Seacrest in your bedroom rummaging through your sock drawer.
Is there anything more annoying than sitting in a funeral and having Who Let the Dogs Out pop into your head? How about Abba’s Fernando drilling a hole in your cranium right after your head hits the pillow and you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
You have no control over what Earworm your internal jukebox is going to unleash on you. Not only that, but it doesn’t even have to be something you remember hearing. The subconscious can lift a bit of music from the far reaches of your mind that you may have heard fleetingly from a passing car or a neighbor’s radio or television. This is when you wrack your brain trying to remember what the song is or why it popped into your head. You will sometimes turn to a friend or even a stranger and, humming what you hear, ask them if they know what the hell you’re listening to. Because most of us suck at humming notes in meter or even in tune, this practice usually results in befuddled looks or someone sarcastically thanking you for planting your Earworm in their head, replacing their earworm they were going to ask you for help with.
I rarely (if ever) get current music Earworms, mostly because most of the songs on the radio sound just like one another, my brain can’t choose one and just goes back into the stuff archived in my head already. Nor do I get rock songs, Beatles, Stones, or Led Zeppelin. It seems my brain tolerates my love of rock music, but doesn’t share it. It focuses more on stuff I either haven’t heard in a long time, or obscure pieces of music that were so catchy, the old grey matter just has to pick them out of the pile and spin them once in a while, not caring whether I like it or not. This would explain hearing things like The Yellow Rose of Texas by Mitch Miller and the Pizza Pizza 967.11.11 jingle.
I would love to hear what your Earworms are, and you can email them to me at [email protected] if you like. Just put “Earworms” in the subject header of your email. If I get enough feedback from you about your Earworms, I’ll run a column of the most interesting ones.
Here are 10 of my favourites. Some recur with inexplicable frequency, some just once or twice but stay with me for whatever reason. In no particular order, here they are. The links will take you to videos of the music. You can check them out if it’s raining (which it probably will) or just watch them and add them to your Earworm shuffle playlist, which is located somewhere inside your skull.
Rice A Roni:
From my childhood. This one pops up when I’m hungry sometimes. As catchy a jingle as I have ever heard, and San Francisco is where I was born. My brain must get homesick once in a while.
Ah, The Muppet Show. My daughter and I used to watch this together when she was little. The ‘lyric’ to this plays out in my head pretty much intact. The others do not. Just a word here and there, if at all.
Lullabye of Birdland:
Also form when I was very young. In real life I love Mel Torme’s version of this song, but I had the Blue Stars version on 78. Nice to have Shearing in my head…kind of makes up for the Oscar Meyer Weiner Song and almost makes up for Abba.
I was addicted to this television series and still watch the reruns occasionally. This is such a fine piece of music I actually sit back and enjoy iy when it pops into my head. Lately it has been replaced with the very familiar sounding, but radically different theme of one of my current television addictions.
As you can tell, very much like the theme to Northern Exposure but way more like Southern Exposure. Again, when it pops in, I kick back and groove.
What little Italian I can remember comes from this, the original version of this song. Dean Martin’s version is all right, but this is the goods. A sing-along Earworm, at least the ‘Volare Whoa Oh’ part.
All the Way:
Of all the Sinatra songs I love, why this one? Frank sings the pants off of it, but the Earworm doesn’t have Frank’s voice. Still, a pleasant surprise when it shows up.
Sweet Baby James:
Same thing with this one. Why this song when there are so many others? How often does one of your favourite artists music show up as an Earworm?
The Edison Twins:
I wrote this and apparently Mr. Brain approves. I sang all the parts. The only musical instrument on this track is the bass, which I played to reinforce the bass vocal. I have whistled along on more than one occasion, causing strangers on a streetcar to look at me like I was out on a day pass.
The one Doo Wop classic my brain seems to like. Looking for the next time this one pops in for a visit. More a summer Earworm than any other season.
Music Matters Tip of the Week:
The Killing on AMC and Treme on HBO both Sunday night. Consult your local listings. Disco Rebels at The Hideout 484 Queen Street West tonight (Friday) May 13th. Make sure to drop by Cherry Cola’s for a drink and some great music and times if you’re in the neighborhood.
Those of you who wish to continue to receive the Don’t Believe a Word I Say columns, The Monday Morning Mailbag, The Rock Files, and The Weekend Roundup, can email me at [email protected] to let me know, and I will email the columns new URL directly to you.
Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats And Dogs, and was nominated for a Juno Award for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, continues to write, make music, and record.