Earworms

Heartbeat, why do you miss when my baby kisses me?

Earworms, we all get them. I took a poll, once: Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? Everyone said yes. Well not everyone; I posted this on Facebook. Everyone would be three billion people. I posted it in my Tourette Syndrome group. I got about sixty yesses. Of course, most people with Tourette also have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an infliction known for intrusive thoughts—like irrational fears… or a song loop. If you have OCD, you always get songs stuck in your head, I promise. Earworms.

Betcha think my earworm is Heartbeat by Buddy Holly. I wish; I love that song. No, it’s much more complicated than that. Long time readers know about my pervasive dizziness while exercising, I write about it all the time—sorry. One of the (many) potential causes I looked into was my heart rate, over-taxing my heart. Dead end, but I got a cool watch that shows my pulse while I run. Today, my heart rate was whack! It started high, and it kept on creeping up the entire run. It topped out at 185—way faster than I thought possible for an old dude like me. Strangely, I felt great.

My college roommate Brian showed up for our sophomore year with a total of two records. Yes, they were full long-play record albums, but we treated then like singles. We played the same two songs over and over. Turning Japanese by the Vapors and My Sharona by the Knack. The only other song on either album that we ever played was a cover of Heartbeat by the Knack. As I obsessed about my heart rate for fifty-eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds (remember, I had a watch), I thought about those songs. And Turning Japanese starting looping in my head. I even sang it out loud as my talk test. If you can’t talk (or sing) comfortably, you’re running too hard.

I’ve got an earworm playing all. the. freaking. time. At the end of 2020, I wrote A Prayer for Something Better. The post’s title, my writer’s prompt (an earworm in itself), is a clip from One Hundred Years by the Cure. This song stuck with me for a few days. I flashed on an awesome idea. I’d make a list throughout 2021 of all my earworms. I could publish the list as a blog post. Dozens, hundreds of songs, maybe I’d write a blurb about each. I wondered what the next song would be.

One Hundred Years stayed with me for weeks, and then abruptly, in the middle of a run, it switched to Zombie by the Cranberries. Man, those lyrics are zombifying:

In your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, eh-eh-oh, ra-ra
Repeat

By the time I finished my run, I was already sick of it. When I told Eli he said “God, I hate that song. Her voice is terrible.”

“No, she’s Irish.” This was Susan, thereby pointing out to us how Irish singers are special.

And there Zombie sat, front and center in my mind for at least ten days. With January winding down, I had only two songs on my list. When I came up with my idea, I assumed I cycled onto a new song every couple of days, but I never really paid attention before. I just knew a song was always there. I thought my ever-growing song list would tell a story. I thought readers would learn about my musical tastes, my moods, my secrets. This year-long project would illustrate who I am.

Before February began, I switched back to One Hundred Years, and it never left. Anything that song says about me was already said… in 2020… in a blog post. I don’t even like it that much. I mean it’s fine, like Zombie is fine, but it’s not how I hope to be remembered.

Turning Japanese today was a step in the right direction. I don’t really know what the song’s about, not masturbation, which is what everyone said in college. The Vapors say no, not right. Seems like it could be a little racist, but I’m not sure how. He’s turning Japanese, but he doesn’t say if that’s good or bad. Regardless, I’ve moved away from moody British bands and added a poppy British band. (Yes, I know that Ireland isn’t England. Splitting hairs. Plus, I’m pretty sure I don’t have any Irish readers, so hopefully no one gets offended).  

Maybe my switch to the Vapors today is the start of a long parade of interesting song choices. A list that paints a musical picture of my brain, What I’m thinking, what’s important to me. I know I could certainly use a break from the Cure. I’ll report back at the end of the year when I write that post. Or maybe I’ll loop these three songs all year, like a pop station afraid to break out from its top ten rotation. Maybe I’ve already written about all my earworms of 2021. God, I hope not.

20 thoughts on “Earworms

  1. I am envious of people (like my husband) who can remember lyrics …and even remember band names. I know I like a song when I hear but god help me if I can remember the words or the artist(s). I wish I could have an ear worm let alone know what it might say about me!

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  2. I call it “the DJ in my head” and for whatever reason, Pat Benatar’s “Fire and Ice” has been playing for a week. It’s a great song, but I feel the need to sing it… I seriously couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it. Plus, my voice is way too low to be singing ANY Pat Benatar songs.

    I like your idea!! I’ve got randoms songs throughout this past year of COVID. I wonder what the songs say about me.

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    • Maybe the songs stuck in our head say nothing about us. Bruce (Vinyl Connection) says he now has Turning Japanese in his head thanks to me. Usually, it’s just a suggestion that sets it off. An old coworker told me that her boyfriend always got the kibbles and bits jingle stuck in his head while he ran. I am randomly curious at times about bloggers musical tastes, starting with ‘do they even care’ about music. Early in my correspondence with Robyn she posted a link to a pretty hardcore punk song. Completely unexpected but then I learned one of her favorite bands is the Pixies (mine too). You sometimes really don’t know who people are. Music is an ever declining interest in my life. It bums me out but I just don’t have a ton of motivation to listen any more. Even driving to a run-site, I’m more likely to listen to NPR than music.

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  3. I lovvvvved the Cranberries (and whaaat?? she has a beautiful voice!! :)). I remember listening to that album nonstop with a best galfriend all the way up to some festival, both of us rocking it out in the front seat for five hours straight. But yes it does get stuck in the head lol. I loved the Cure as well… Yes I believe we’re from the same era. :))

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    • I enjoyed the cranberries too. Yes, she does have a nice voice, and Zombie is well sung, but she doesn’t use that pretty lilting style from her other songs. In general, I like the song, and it ALWAYS made the playlist in my Halloween spin mix (when I used to instruct). I find it interesting that Eli doesn’t like it. He’s quite the rocker. Susan just told me that the singer died. I hadn’t heard that. Tragic. Maybe musically we’re from the same era, but I think I’ve got a good 15 years on you. 😦

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      • Wow… I did not know that. May her beautiful soul rest in peace. I see on Wikipedia she was born in 1971, I didn’t know that either… I was born two years later. I don’t know why but I assumed she was older… maybe because of how much more accomplished she seemed to be. “What’s in your head…” Sometimes we have Zombie-like voices in our head, eating at our self-esteem, telling us we’re not good enough or what have you. They can be deadly.

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    • Ah, sorry for that. Yes, for some of us of a certain age, that song occupies an annoyingly large crevasse in our brain. I’m certain I could rattle off a dozen other new wave songs from ’79 – ’83 that would have the same effect.

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  4. That would be neat to see all the songs that got stuck in your head at the end of the year. I know I have had my share of earworms, but I can’t think of a song right now that has been plaguing me lately. The Cure song that usually gets to me is Disintegration but hasn’t lately. That is a high heart rate. I always get nervous when I see mine spike like that in my numbers. Sometimes I wonder if the number is legit since my favorite tracker is one the company doesn’t even make anymore. I enjoy watching my RHR. To me, if I am in fit shape the number should be pretty low. I have only been running low miles lately after a long stretch of no running at all. I am happy my RHR is still low. Makes me feel better about losing fitness and my health.

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    • I’ve had my garmin display some obviously inaccurate rates before, but they usually straighten out when my skin starts dampening with sweat. This one, just kept climbing. Susan suggested that possibly my body was fighting the cold (god it was cold) but two miles in, I’d say I felt pretty warm. I haven’t been running with my watch all winter, because I’ve been running an easy road course and I know the mileage. Now I wonder if every run has been like this. After getting my stress test (no concerns) I’ve stopped worrying about having a heart attack in the middle of a run., so the pulse thing didn’t freak me out so much. Two months ago, I would have turned around and walked home after 3/4 miles.

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  5. “Build me up Buttercup” has been one for me since I was a kid. We played the 45 in a friend’s basement. When it was featured in a movie (Something about Mary?) it just got re-stamped into my brain.

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    • Ha, that’s a good one. I’ve had that one a few times. It was my boss at the Y’s favorite song and she always looked for a reason to play it. I don’t really have any long term ones like that. They tend to come an go. I think it was much worse when I instructed spin classes because I spent so much time considering different songs. How you doing? Bored of winter yet?

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  6. Now I have the “Zombies” song by the Cranberries as an earworm. The funniest part? I never realized the title or the message of the song had anything to do with zombies. I remember the part about “their guns in your head, in your head, they are dyin'” but not the part about Zombies. I must have blocked it out. Or maybe I never understood what they were really saying and just made up my own lyrics for that part! 🙂

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    • Yes I do that intentionally on runs some times. This year I haven’t tried it. It used to be that when I had one if I played the song a few times it would go away. I haven’t tried that either 😕

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