Earworms: Beethoven and the Kinks

November 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

There are three in particular, ongoing, since last week: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony- II Allegretto, Lalo Schifrin- Renaissance (from the Marquis de Sade LP)  and The Kinks- Village Green. There are similarities, in mode and even melody. I can hear the strains of a potential mash-up (that’s an idea straight out of 2003) but more to the point, one psychological instance of music seems to trigger the other so they ping-pong from tune to tune. Of course, it’s not like I’m listening to the entirety of any piece. The experience is a little more like a very limited radio playlist that only has a few songs on constant rotation. They are pleasant companions and can be set aside for external music but when there is nothing else pressing the talkback, the melodies emerge from their little holes in the mulchy recesses and start spinning their tunes. Ohrwürmer.

In my new job, which shall remain nameless, I listen to clandestine radio broadcasts on a telephonic earpiece meant for monitoring the frustrations of faraway colleagues. Low fidelity, but considering that only a couple of decades ago I would stay up all night with a shortwave Grundig just to get a quick sample of BBC World Service (what a way to be introduced to Apache Indian!) the experience is comforting more akin to strapping a transistor radio to my head. Except I can listen to BBC Radio 3 on this transistor. I won’t advertise the streaming platform service here, especially because I find their own campaign incredibly obnoxious. But in a long ago place, such magic was only dreamt of. Then again, so was the notion of speaking to faraway colleagues real-time kvetching.

With my radio headset (I imagine myself in a trench on the Maginot line, wading through the detritus of war, listening for a friendly word from Tokyo Rose, or the latest from Creedence, or anything to get me through another night of shelling) I allow the worms some time off, which they repay in the early morning hours by surviving and growing stronger, inviting more critters to join them in this cozy head. And not just music, but ideas and impulses.

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