Dictionary Definition for Earworm: A song or tune that gets stuck in one's mind and repeats as if on a tape, also called cognitive itch, sticky tune.
We've all experienced the earworm phenomenon. And if you are over 40, I'm betting that the popular Coke song of the 70s song lodged itself in your brain for the long haul. That song always made me feel uncomfortable--giving me the same heebie jeebies as a doll with evil intentions. It was as innocuous as a folk song sung by a Flower Child on a mountain top, and yet it was as creepy as a cult incantation:
Question: What is your most recent earworm--or what is the one song you MUST turn off or your ears will bleed?
My current "sticky tune" is "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5. But I don't mind because I'm a Maroon 5 fan. In fact, the "whistle" intro is now my ringtone. So I don't mind that this song is in a loop in my head even as I am trying to concentrate on writing to you right now.
But we don't always get to choose our cognitive itch; it chooses us. Sometimes it's the theme of your preschool child's favorite TV program or a school's fight song. After writing that, I'm glad my earworm is Adam Levine and not Barney the Dinosaur.
There is one song, however, that I cannot stand to hear even once, and this is the backstory of how I came to hate it.
When I was a young teenager, I'm guessing about 14, the lady across the street from us was going through a divorce. In what I can only imagine was a broken-hearted, bleary-eyed stupor, she played one song over and over and over and over ... surely as loudly as her stereo would go. All day long, for WEEKS, the song drifted in through open windows and doors up and down our street. I felt like I was going to lose my teenage mind. Everyone was talking about it; nobody did anything about it.
At some point, the torture stopped. At least it stopped in real time. But whenever I hear the opening chords of this song, I am back in my driveway in cut-offs with my long stringy hair and disastrous attempts at make up. And I'm looking across the street at that plain white house with every window and door open, hearing this song blare from a mammoth stereo, gritting my teeth in frustration. To this day, when I hear the first few notes, I go to any length, scramble every way, knocking over hairspray bottles, tripping on cords, stepping on the dog, to shut it OFF.
This post officially makes Gordon Lightfoot the performer of my two least favorite songs in the universe: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and ... "Sundown." Oh, the torture!