It haunts us day and night. That song in our head. ("Oh, Mandy. Well you came and you gave without taking.") The one that plays over and over, by itself, at the oddest times. ("But I sent you away!) Nothing compares to the tenaciousness with which it follows us around, accompanying us while we drive, try to fall asleep, or get up to get a drink of water from the kitchen.
A few weeks ago, Barry Manilow's sugary sweet 1974 cover of a love song became my own personal ear worm. That term is defined as "a tune or part of a song that repeats in one's mind." It was relentless. Day and night, at times which might otherwise be silent, there was Barry wailing intensely about Mandy.
When Manilow's song was on the charts going number one, I liked it as well as the next guy. Sure, it was a sappy little love song, but he sang it so well, dripping with romantic angst and regret.
There was no particular reason for it to pop into my head and take up residence. I think I might have heard it on a radio station playing old hits, but don't have a clear recollection of that happening. I just woke up one day and it was blaring in my head. I have chronic tinnitus, but that is a blessing compared to Barry Manilow in my head at all hours of the day and night.
I don't often cite Wikipedia, but with a subject matter such as ear worms, why not? According to Wikipedia, 98% of all men and women experience ear worms. Wow! There aren't many things that 98% of all men and women experience. And that source claims that ear worms are likely to last longer with women than men, and that women find them more irritating than men do. People with obsessive compulsive disorders are more likely to report being troubled by ear worms. Are they talkin' to me? Well, they must be talkin' to me.
Wikipedia tells us the ear worm is likely to be a song which has a nice melody and repetitive lyrics which are both catchy and annoying. That's certainly Mandy.
Since this is a topic of great importance, I consulted my son for his opinion. He recalled reading somewhere that the antidote for an ear worm is to listen to the entire song from start to finish. He thought an article he read had said an ear worm is the brain seeking to repeat the song in its entirety. I don't know if it's true, but it ought to be. I'm definitely going to try it. What's the worst that could happen? Wait, don't tell me. Let me guess.
The worst thing that could happen if I listen to Mandy in its entirety is the song launches another round of endless ear worming. Did I say "endless"? As in "My Endless Love"? I think we have a new ear worm folks! "My love, my love, my love … My endless love!"
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. email@example.com