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Why do I know these songs?

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re tryin’
You’re tryin’ now

This is a short lyric from the song “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty. If you heard it, you’d know it; if not by the lyrics then definitely by the saxophone riff they use in it. It’s a relatively old song and there are many others just like it taking up valuable space in my brain. This was a song that was played on radio stations back in the 70s and 80s and apparently my mind is a catalog of useless lyrics for these old songs which routinely pop into my head.

I think my father has the same issue in his brain. That would probably explain why he purposely butchers any and all song lyrics when he sings them. It would seem like a reasonable way to deal with the intrusion of such songs.

The killer thing is that I somehow can hear these songs completely out of the blue – songs that I have not heard in decades – and somehow I know every word.

And for this, I blame my mother. Yeah mom, you’re mentioned in my blog again (feel free to make comments on that below).

How else could I possibly know the words to songs from such relics like Air Supply, Asia, Kansas, Neil Diamond, and Carly Simon? I don’t even like any of these musicians to be quite honest. Yet somehow I can recite their songs just as aptly as I can belt out any part of the original Star Wars movies, or anything by Pink Floyd. I am convinced that my mother’s obsession with playing and winning radio station contests back in the aforementioned era has indeed taken a serious toll on my sanity.

Thankfully I work with a guy who has the same affliction (his mom’s fault, too) and we’ve actually turned the illness into a game where we try to serrenade/abuse each other with the most obscure and ridiculous old songs that we can possibly think of. Just the other day, he struck first blood with “Daniel” by Elton John, and I countered with “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” by the most F’d up duo of all time – Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson (I mean, seriously, how did those two get together…wait a second, I know, it was weed. Nevermind.).

But yeah, thanks Mom. That damned ‘Morgan in the Morning’ radio show circa 1982 in the greater St. Louis area. . .that’s the one that did it, followed shortly thereafter by Q101 after we moved to Chicago. I am pretty sure that’s also the reason I hate John Cougar Mellancamp so deeply — that and the frappin’ Chevy truck commercials which imply that anyone who drives a Chevy truck is a right-wing, blue-collar, corn-fed-procreator who lives where roads are still not paved.

I hate Mellencamp. I also have to say that Springsteen grinds my gears, anything from the movies Flashdance or Footloose, Kenny Loggins, Kris Kristofferson, and anything sung by anyone named Neville. Eeeesh. Gives me the willies. But just because I cringe at the first notes of these songs doesn’t mean I don’t know all the words.

Luckily my company has decent insurance coverage which includes shrinks. I would be interested in a full-on study of my brain, which, by the way, is on the list of organs that I would donate to science. Maybe science can use me to identify the part of the brain that houses the sick and twisted attraction to awful music from the late-70s and 80s.

I am considering a proposal to Time/Life Music for the “Crappy Songs that are Stuck in Your Head” collection. I bet you can’t wait for that infomercial.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • uncle bob January 24, 2007, 8:22 pm

    “The screen door slams,mary’s dress waves,like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays,Roy Orbison singin’ for the lonely,hey that’s me and I want you only…. you ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright,and that’s alright with me…”(add great piano, Clarence Clemons’ sax and Springsteen’s unique(OK crappy) voice and you’ve got poetry youngster. Or how about, “I got a sixty nine Chevy with a Three Ninety Six, fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor, she’s waitin tonight down in the parking lot down at the Seven Eleven store…” that’s not just poetry, that’s American Poetry! don’t mess with the Boss.

  • Mr Smith January 24, 2007, 11:45 pm

    Well, you said it… crappy voice. Lyrics aside, the Boss sounds like he’s sitting on the porcelain chair trying to grunt one out. He and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith need to retire the pipes already. Damn shame, but it’s the truth. What they had in their prime is far from what they have now.

    Also, I don’t think Springsteen did enough coke or acid. I think Jim Morrison takes the American poet crown. You don’t even need the music to appreciate that prose.

    But I digress. I know better than to argue music with you, dude. Can’t we all just love Motown and get along?

  • uncle bob January 25, 2007, 9:35 pm

    Right you are Sir! If our foreign policy geniuses could negotiate as effectively as we there would be no wars.It goes without saying that Springsteen skipped the coke and acid, he was drinking Budweiser and working on cars down on the boardwalk(or wherever they work on cars in Jersey)Just remember, Music is art and there is no bad art. It’s greatness is that everyone can interpret and enjoy it in their own way.Except for Men at Work and Dexie’s Midnight Runners, that my friend is crap. Rap music may promote violence, but if I hear “Come on Eileen” one more time I will go on a rampage!They’re the kind of guys who give Irishmen a bad name.

  • Mr Smith January 25, 2007, 10:45 pm

    Where the hell is my mother on this post? Somebody call her and tell her she got mentioned on the blog again. Don’t they have RSS is Springfield??

  • Mom January 28, 2007, 11:08 am

    “Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby!” To defend myself, I gave you the ability to distinguish the difference between music, art and genius. I doubt you would have discovered the beauty of lyrics and harmony if you’d only listened to classical or one gender of modern music, so blame if you must. I think that memories connected to a song are the problem, conjuring up demons or delights. Music is personal and private at times, it lifts me up or brings me to tears. If I need to be spirited away, I”ll take Janis and “Bobby McGee”, Josh Groban’s “You’re Still You” or “Ode to Joy”,or maybe “The Boys are back in Town”, “Jump”, Judy’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…..I could name thousands, not enough time or space. If you can’t get the lyrics out of your head, try to get the message it sends, then pick a CD you like and play it over and over until that group of songs have be burned into your memory. Please don’t pick “YMCA” or “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I’ve got love in my Tummy” something about songs beginning with “Y”, just can’t seem to get them out of my….”and I feel like loving you”…..It’s gonna haunt you. And YOU wanted a comment. Love you, Mom

  • Mom January 28, 2007, 12:21 pm

    Just a thought-how many 70’s and 80’s songs were from one hit wonders? The current oldies radio stations and classic rock stations barely crack the surface of great music. I have noticed that many new movies have revived the music of the 60’s for their soundtracks, could that be because marketing realized how many baby boomers are out here spending money to re-live their youth! Bubblegum did not make the century, country isn’t just for cowboys, U2 gives us politics and crooners get awards for lasting into their 80’s. WHAT A COUNTRY! Branson even has an appearance by Chuck Berry and Otis Day and the Knights, for two nights only. Chuck’s gotta be 100 now! Seems like old times and old timers have just a tiny bit of clout, even if they have no taste. I’ll be back, have a little Procol Harem to add to a CD I’m burning.

  • Mr Smith January 29, 2007, 5:48 pm

    I don’t mind getting GOOD songs stuck in my head. That’s exactly how I wound up with several hundred CDs in my collection. At least now when I get a song in my head I can just jump on my Napster account or download the MP3 from someone/somewhere. Much easier on the credit cards…

    Mom is right on the revival of old songs via new movies, etc. Wayne’s World brought Queen back to life with the whole Bohemian Rhapsody scene, not to mention Dreamweaver from Gary Wright. And let’s not forget what Pink Floyd did for the film “More”….yeah, look that one up.

    But to stay on topic….I was recently violated again in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning when my drunken neighbors had a bit of a party. Several of the way-drunk douchebags went from singing along with whatever gangsta rap songs to suddenly butchering “Faithfully” by Journey. Think of the scene in Animal House when all the drunkies are slurring to “Louie, Louie”…luckily holySmith! The Baby (we don’t use real names on here) slept right through it. But if he starts humming Journey songs I am going to know this affiliction is genetic.

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