Sitting in the
green room of my agency this morning, I watched a magical phenomenon take
place. Over the course of an hour, seven different people quietly sang “Oh, What
a Night” to themselves. You know the song… “late december la la ’63, was a
very special la la me … oh la la la what a night…”
This song was passed around the room faster than a joint at Phish concert. We were ALL singing it. And you know what? We all HATED each other for it. But we couldn’t resist. It’s like having a chipped tooth: it’s painful and annoying, but you keep touching it with your tongue.
Why do songs get trapped in our heads? Why do we keep scratching this cognitive itch? Is it the brain’s love of patterns and repetition? Research done by the University of Cincinnati shows that 99% of Americans have had a song stuck in their mind. And for 50% of them, it happens frequently.
I’m in that 50%.
Sure, I’ll catch myself singing “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier…” or any one of the catchy refrains from the Killers incredible album. But for me, it’s worse than that. I have had songs stuck for YEARS. And I can not tell you when they got in there, or why.
myself in the shower humming the horn section of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me
Al” over and over again. I’ll walk around the house absent-mindedly but
passionately whistling the melody of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.” From the Wizard of Oz, “If I Only Had a Brain”
is a staple. And not a day goes by when I won’t sing aloud, “They’ll
Need A Crane! They’ll Need A Crane!”
What do these disparate ditties have to do with each other? At first glance, nothing. Upon deep therapy, perhaps everything. I have no idea.
Researchers don’t seem to want to admit this, but I am willing to bet this phenomenon is some sort of a minor psychosis; a derangement that we all have in varying degrees. I feel that this disorder is parallel with or somehow related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
And if I’m right, is there any hope for me? I’ve had Paul’s song in my brain for twenty freakin years.
Oh well. You
call me obsessed. You can call me psychotic. You can call me Al.