An Earworm is a term for a portion of a song or other musical bit that gets "stuck" in someone’s head and repeats continually against a their will. Often, relief comes only when it is swapped with a newer fragment from another tune. Research indicates that the people who get the most earworms tend to listen to music frequently and are more likely to have other neurotic habits, such as biting pencils or finger nails or tapping fingers. In Oliver Sacks latest book, Musicophilia, he defines the phenomenon as “involuntary musical imagery.”
I’m regularly haunted by fractions of tunes wandering between lobes. And more often than not, these are unfamiliar melodies incessantly repeating, tumbling about, until my slipping weak-ass sagacity cracks. Musicians tend to more susceptible to earworms, and it probably doesn’t help that I listen to scraps of songs all day at Amoeba as a I comb over the piles of used, alien 45’s littering my office. Yesterday, for example, I played snippets of possibly three hundred different singles just trying to figure what is what and what is not. I seem to have survived the experience, at least for the moment; in any case I won’t know until the next ghostly notes infest my synapses. Unfortunately some melodies or musical moods are so perfectly defined; my simpleton’s grey matter is rather easy prey to a full-on earworm assault. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-watching all 29 episodes of David Lynch’s 1990 -1991 television show Twin Peaks. And no, the Twin Peaks Theme is not the exact piece of music bouncing around my skull, but Twin Peaks is the source of the latest spell.