It was about a year ago that I saw on someone’s Facebook page a mention of earworms. No, these are not corporeal beasties that live and reside in your ears a la Star Trek II, this would be a less benign variety. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for a while, and it plays endlessly, so much so that you can’t really think of anything else? It might be a song that you heard in your youth, or on the Muzak in some department store, or elsewhere, it won’t go away. That’s an earworm.
Over the course of the Christmas season, the period between the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas, where I work has a Muzak system that intersperses Christmas music with the normal tracks that they play all year long. Some of them are nice, some less so. But for the most part, they seem to have a limited playlist; the same songs play, by different artists, over and over. So you hear ‘Blue Christmas’ though never by Elvis Presley, you hear it by Mariah Carey or a half dozen different artists, and played not back to back, but perhaps 3-4 times in the same hour? After 8 hours of this repetition, one tends to want to listen to anything, just not Christmas music. Or at least you would think that.
When I get home, during the Christmas season, I like to listen to music sometimes. What kind of music do you ask? Well seasonal music of course. But not what I’ve been listening to at work; I like the older standards that I grew up with during the 1970s and early 80s. Artists like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis etc. The stuff that was played on LP albums on the family stereo over and over, but not to the point of driving you batty, just enough that it makes you nostalgic.
But, getting back to the earworm phenomena. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to find a particular piece of Italian music that I heard in the local Olive Garden. It was a somewhat obscure piece, by some Italian artist, that talked of different musical instruments and how they played, and it was a progression. Like an Italian version of “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, it started out with a flute, and then moved on to stringed, wind and brass instruments. Try as I might, I’d thrown various lyrics into Google but never could get a hit as to what it was. Finally 2 weeks ago, as I was listening to a playlist on Spotify, a similar piece of Italian music was played. “Aha! I thought, perhaps I can find it here on Spotify!” And sure enough, with a little digging through various artists, trying certain lyrics as search options I had a whiff of what I was looking for. An instrumental, but not the exact one I had been searching for. But after about 2-3 more minutes of digging, I found the original! Haha! Success! I played it! And then again. And again. And yup, you guessed it, I put it on loop and played it over and over again..until now I have it stuck in my brain on loop. And can’t get it out.
Fear not dear reader…all is not lost. In time I’ll find another song, and it’ll replace “Eh Cumpari” as the earworm in my head. Maybe “The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics. I found that one too, and it’s by far my most favorite piece of music.