Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Earworms: Proof That Life Goes On


They call them earworms and you might have heard of them. They’re the songs that get in your head and, due to their infectious awfulness, take up residence there for days at a time.

"I get knocked down, but I get up again." If you didn't get
the concept of an "earworm" before, you do now.
You’ve got “Row, Row, Row Your boat.” There’s “YMCA.” Maybe you’re more of a “Chicken Dance” kind of person. Or perhaps it’s the Jeopardy! game show theme song? None of these striking a chord yet? How about “It’s a Small World?”

Maybe you’re one of the few who have never experienced the torture of a ceaseless song. Lucky you.

For the rest of us, well, we can turn down the volume, but the song just keeps on playing in your head.  I’ve heard of earworms lasting months, even years. (I hope the walls are extra padded for the poor souls to whom such a fate befalls.)

But what if it’s not solely an earworm you’re experiencing? What if nearly everywhere you went, the song was actually playing and, when it wasn’t, the earworm was there to fill the void?

All of which is to say, the boy has found a song he likes. And he plays it all the time — and I mean all the time.

For his torture device the boy chose “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” by the Beatles. On the list of potential earworms, it could be worse.  (See: any of the above-mentioned songs and add in Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” for good measure.)

I could find a measure of relief by turning off the boy’s song of choice but what for? At this point he doesn’t ask for much in life and he’s not exhibiting any spoiled behaviors.  So, I could turn off the song but I’d (justifiably) be left to feel like the old man killing the party by telling the rowdy kids to “get the hell off my lawn and turn off the damn music.”

Fortunately, as life often provides, there is a counterbalance to the earworm, in that playing the song is all but guaranteed to bring a smile to the boy’s face.

The song has also got him singing more. Emulating the sunshiny brightness of Paul McCartney’s voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. (Let’s face it, there really are few songs ever made that are happier than “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”)

It’s been about 20 days since the song moved into my head and when it gets to me, I guess I can just remember the lyrics: “La-la how the life goes on!”

Yes it does Paul. Yes it does. 

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