As The Worm Turns

The only thing worse than getting a song stuck in your head is getting a song you don’t like stuck in your head. A song you have not listened to since back in The Day, for a very good reason. A song that you heard once 20 years ago and it got lodged in your brain, dormant, waiting to emerge from its chrysalis and flit around between your ears, making you crazy. A song that, even though you don’t like it and would never choose to listen to it of your own free will, somehow rises to the surface. And the only thing worse than getting a song you don’t like stuck in your head is a song you don’t like with what you know are the wrong lyrics stuck in your head. Scientists don’t know why, but these are the songs that tend to get stuck in your head most often.

This phenomenon is known as a “brain worm.” Opinions vary as to how to get rid of them. Our research has come up with a few suggestions:
1. It has been suggested that chewing gum, oddly enough, can dissipate a brain worm, something to do with working your jaw. The only thing chewing gum has gotten me is the Doublemint jingle stuck in my head. Double your pleasure, my ass.
2. Some say that singing along out loud and letting the song run its course will make it go away. Some of those songs that show up in your head, you might not want to be caught out in public singing them. Especially since you have the lyrics wrong.
3. Then there’s the idea that a brain worm can be replaced by picking a different song and singing it to yourself. Be sure it’s a song you won’t mind getting stuck in your head. Refer to #2 above for guidance. And don’t repeat step #3 or you’ll be caught in some sort of Twilight Zone endless loop nightmare.
4. Experts say that walking or dancing at a different pace and rhythm than the song stuck in your head might work. If you’re in a place where dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld might not go over so well, this remedy might not be for you.
5. Whacking yourself repeatedly upside the head with a board might work, but is not recommended for (hopefully) obvious reasons.
6. One last idea is to pick up the phone and call a friend, the theory being that talking on the phone is enough of a distraction to get your mind to change gears. You might try transferring the song by singing it to your friend, who will likely become your former friend.

These little worms are persistent buggers and will come right back around given the opportunity. It can be a lot of work to keep them at bay. There are no known credible reports of brain worm fatalities, but there are all sorts of things that “can’t happen.” Be careful out there.

We had some friends over for dinner the other night and somehow the conversation turned around to a particular artist from the 70s. You can thank me later but I won’t mention the artists name or the song we were talking about. This “friend” who shall remain nameless (it was Dave) sang a snippet of the song with the evil intention of getting it stuck in our heads. Needless to say, it worked and the evening was very nearly ruined. Funny joke, Dave.

Like the practice of having someone scare you to get rid of hiccups, try Googling “brain worms”. Looking at the pictures and descriptions might scare the worms right out of your head.

Or maybe not.

(And it was “Have You Seen Her,” by The Chi-Lites. You’re welcome.)

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Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

6 thoughts on “As The Worm Turns”

  1. I feel like you have (or Dave has!) dared me to listen to that song. The name of the group and song title are new to me, but perhaps the song itself would be familiar? Will I or won’t I hit the link? Scared . . .

    Great post, Stephen. It made me laugh out loud several times.

  2. rather happy that I am not familiar with that song… and just saying “no” to clicking the link… hope your AC is performing….

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