I’m bugged. Somehow, things are getting into my brain, messing with my ability to concentrate while out on the road, and generally driving me nuts.
Those things are earworms.
If you haven’t heard the term before, it refers to those songs that play in your head — over and over and over. If you try to drive them out, they just get louder.
Now, I normally wouldn’t mind a song in my head. I like music. The trouble is, the songs that have been playing lately are unwelcome, because they’re a) irritating, b) bad songs in general, or c) bad biking songs in particular.
A bad song is anything that I never enjoyed listening to, even if it was a hit. Most pop songs of the ’70s and ’80s fall into this category, but there were some real gems from earlier than that. Do you remember “A white sport coat, and a pink carnation…I’m all dressed up for the dance”? Or, “Honey,” by Bobby Goldsboro? “See the tree, how big it’s grown…”
Not only are they awful songs, but they’re particularly bad for biking. When I’m out on the road, I want something that helps me maintain my pace: Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” or most anything by the Rolling Stones. But those songs never invade my cranial innards.
Motown? I love Motown! At first blush, it might seem like the beat is a tad on the slow side. But “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops (“Sugarpie, honeybunch”) has a beat that you want to hit on the downstroke of your pedal. I have been known to sing “Tears of a Clown” out loud while pedaling down a lonesome country road.
The bad songs don’t have that kind of beat. Or, they’re way too slow. Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” is a great song, but you don’t want its syrupy strains spreading through your head when you’re trying to keep up a 15 mile per hour pace.
The worst one, though, was the one that got me last week. It wasn’t even a song, but a commercial jingle. For a regional chain of liquor stores.
Got cheer, all through the year — Chocolate, coffee, cheese — And a case of cold beer
Okay, it’s kind of catchy.
Spec’s fine spirits and finer foods — World class service — It’s all about you
But there’s a major problem with it:
Shop Spec’s — Low price amazing — Here’s to you (shout!) — Here’s to savings!
It’s only 30 seconds long! If I’m out for a two-hour ride on the weekend, and that’s the only thing playing in my head… it’s enough to drive a cyclist nuts.
How do you deal with earworms on a ride?
(If you’re not from Texas, and you’ve never heard the Spec’s jingle, here you go — but don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
Join the club. Almost every morning I wake up with a song in my head. Usually it’s a good one, but once in awhile a real stinker boils up. The other day I woke up with “My Sharona” rattling in my gourd (What!?!). It made me wonder if I had been abducted by aliens, and they used it in some weird experiment. As far as I know, I’m the only human being on this planet that likes Bluegrass, so I’m reluctant to make any suggestions, but If your game, The Del McCoury Band has a few good strokers — I’m a little partial to their cover of a Richard John Thompson song “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” — and if you really want to burn yourself to a crisp you could try an old instrumental called “The Lee Highway Blues”. Be careful though, if you don’t like Bluegrass, and get it stuck in your head, you might find yourself listening to Dodie Stevens “Pink Shoelaces” in an attempt to get it out. HAHA!
Love Vincent Black Lightning, do a version myself, must look it up.
It’s on the “Del And The Boys” album.
Bike Noob says
“A big Panama with a purple hat band.” Yeah, that’s a bad biking song. Bluegrass wouldn’t work for me, because it’s instrumental, and my ear worms are always vocals–and I’m not big on banjos. (But Flatt & Scruggs never fail to impress.)
Recently was doing the lighting for our local production of Bugsy Malone. Don’t like the show much, but the kids were brilliant. ‘So yo wanna be a boxer?’ Has inveigled it’s way into my brain, and I very much dislike the sport. Arghrghrghrghrgh!!!
Dan In Iowa says
My daughter just read a thing that says that songs LITERALLY get stuck in our brains…..something about them clustering around certain brain cells. Weird. I normally find another song to replace it. Then THAT one will drive me nuts for awhile, but at least it’s a new one!
I’ve seen first hand what your daughter read about. A group from church use to go to a local nursing home on the last Wednesday night of the month to sing. It was amazing to see folks who were so ravaged by the horror of time that they couldn’t even speak coherently, but could sing and knew all the hymns by heart. They all wanted a hymnal, but would not open it — just sit there and sing out from memories older than I am. One old fellow, who had a stroke, use to sing with a local quartet. He always wanted to get up and sing a special. The right side of his face was disfigured, he mumbled when he talked, and drug his right foot, but he would stand there and sing “The Last Mile Of The Way”, a cappella so loud and beautiful, it would make you want to cry.
Dan In Iowa says
I got to go to a couple of nursing homes to do a presentation on a bike trip I did a few years ago to New Orleans. In one of those, a gentleman with alzheimers remembered so much of his riding adventures on RAGBRAI while I was talking. Afterwards, he could barely remember enough to have a decent conversation with me, but during the presentation (a Powerpoint deal), he would talk all about his stuff. Very moving.
My favorite tune while cycling is Here Comes Santa Claus. You can sing or hum it at any tempo you want. It really works at keeping tempo and it’s so easy to hum, whistle or sing!
Bike Noob says
But Ray–It’s February!
Lol yes but it’s still a catchy tune!
HAHA! I love it! There’s a group of riders that meets at Nederland HS every once and a while on the weekends. I’ve never road with them, but I’m thinking now I might ride with them, and start singing “Here Comes Santa Clause” out loud to see if I can get them all to start singing it. Thanks for the chuckle. I’ve been draging out my tracks today, and I need it. 🙂
Lol its infectious tune.
On U.S. A1A, there is a particular bridge over the Nassau Sound. To the east is the Atlantic, to the west, the Florida Intracoastal Waterway. There is a particular memory of fighting into a gusty headwind, watchng a fierce thunderstorm roll in, and the Carlos Santana song, Black Magic Woman crawling around my brain. I hate to hear the term “epic” used in conjunction with cycling but, it sure seemed pretty epic at the time…
Here on Texas Gulf Coast we can get some pretty stout southerly winds. I always say it’s Bob Seger going out, but it Christopher Cross comming back.