My Old Kentucky Homesite

Earworm Saturday #3

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 03/20/2010

Sometimes, earworms can be enjoyable. I’ve had one rattling around my head all week, and every time I “listen” to it, I return to my teenage years with a big goofy smile on my face. This particular song was one that I used to play on the guitar and sing to every girl I was hoping to entice into my bed through my imagined ability to sound like Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, my bed was in a crowded three-room Bronx apartment I shared with my very loud family, and I sounded no more like a Beatle than any other pimply Jewish kid. So, to tell the truth, the song was no more effective at attracting nubile young females than my Brylcreem was. (FYI: It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned what women really want. Eat your heart out, Sigmund, because the simple answer to your question is: a couple of Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts. Who doesn’t love those?)

Anyway, it never dawned on me that I needn’t struggle to sound like a Liverpudlian genius. I didn’t realize that there were dozens of ways to sing Paul’s tune, and any of them would work equally well at driving girls away.

So this particular “Saturday Earworm” is not a song I dislike. Instead of hunting for funny versions, I’ve decided to play serious DJ for this entry in the series, and I’ve tried to pick out some interestingly odd renditions. In fact, I’ve discovered that this Beatle hit has been played in every style known to Man. Most of the following interpretations are pretty good. I realize that you’ve got only limited time to spend on my blog because you’ve got to get to the grocery before it runs out of aphrodisiac baked goods. But if you like this little ditty, you might seriously want to sample every variation here. Some of them will pleasantly surprise you.

[Addendum: (03/20/10 at 3:25 p.m.)  The list below has been revised to include four new styles.]

The Original
Jazz
Reggae
Island Stoner
Baroque
Motown
Fingerpickin’
R&B
Choral (a cappella)
Salsa
Bluegrass
Funk
Folk
Flamenco
Hip-hop
Cumbia
OK, not to disappoint you: What Was This Person Thinking?

If you do wind up with an earworm, you’d be well advised to love it … because it will never die. In fact, you might want to sing your earworm to your earworm. As for me, though: I’ll be changing the title’s singular pronoun to a plural, and crooning this classic to my donuts. [Note to Self: Try to sell that idea to Entenmann’s.]

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56 Responses to “Earworm Saturday #3”

  1. Earworm? I hadn’t heard the term before but I like it!

  2. Susannah Roitman said

    I also like that term. Unfortunately, I am tone deaf so you won’t be hearing me sing anything anytime soon.

  3. You know what’s really fun. Yes? Well aside from that, try clicking all your links one after another.
    Earworm KILLER.

  4. J-Co:
    I’m always glad to be the catalyst for enlarging someone’s vocabulary. Unfortunately, that usually happens when the person is hunting for a new and unusual insult.

    Susannah:
    In the old days, whenever anybody asserted, “I’m tone-deaf,” I used to ask: “Can you tell the difference between your telephone ringing and a song playing on the radio?” Nowadays, though …

    Going:
    If that’s your idea of fun: You must be really old. Maybe you clicked those links one after the other because you kept forgetting that you already had one playing. I’m glad your little game slew your earworm, though. Now, I won’t have to encourage you not to think of “And I Love Her.”

  5. Linwood said

    As a Liverpudlian myself, I’m eternally proud of our lads’ immortal music. I listened to all the covers while making/eating lunch, and liked all of them. That must be a sign of a classic song, when no-one can destroy it (except for that last attempt). Or a bunch of teenage schoolgirls paying homage to their beloveds. (That’s hommidge, not the pretentious o-mahj I frequently hear). I haven’t seen this soft side of you, Larry!

  6. Linwood:
    I haven’t seen this soft side of you, Larry!
    Come visit me while I’m eating dessert.

  7. srsny said

    No. It is not an earworm for me. Instead it is a worm that has attacked all of my senses. It just took those first four notes to bring back the sight of our overcrowded “beach” blanket at our urban “beach” club in the Bronx – not anywhere near a beach, but I suppose the Long Island Sound shoreline was enough for Shorehaven to call itself a Beach Club. The biggest sense memory for me is the intermingled smell of hot asphalt (no sand at our beach) mixed with salt sea air and chlorine, along with the strong scent of suntan oil. I also can recall the feel of that hot asphalt on the bottom of my feet, the sound of paddle ball rackets swatting those black rubber handballs, the sound of mah jong tiles slapped upon bridge tables. The taste of hotdogs and french fries from the snackbar. There’s so much more that I will spare the rest of your readers – having to do with names like Piute Pete and Mrs. Goodstein – but I have been having similar flashbacks all day.

    And you are forgetting – first of all that you were a really good guitar player – and your primarily Beatles repertoire did attract a regular contingent of teenagers – both girls and boys – to the strip of grass near the paddle courts. You and your guitar were the center of it all. Hey, we were 14(me) and 15(you) years old and it all sounded pretty darn good to me.

    And that was the summer I met my best friend.

  8. Srsny:
    I didn’t remember that your parents let you buy hotdogs and french fries. Mine usually made me take a baloney sandwich from home. If I’d been smarter, I would have charged people each day to get me to shut up — until I’d earned at least enough for a burger.

    And, yes. I also met my best friend that summer. Maybe the secret to keeping a lifelong friendship alive is to make sure that neither of you ever mature. I’m sure the ersatz-beach club industry would be in awe to learn that we still have so many interests in common.

  9. John Evo said

    Alton “McCartney” Ellis was pretty good!

  10. Evo:
    I’d be curious to know what su esposa thinks of the Salsa version.

  11. This was bizarre in couple of ways. First, despite the variety of styles, the sound sounded remarkably similar. Second, for the first time in my life (music is a complete mystery to me), I understood the technical meaning of the term off-key (the last one). On top of that, I noticed that her guitar was in need of tuning. Yes, I am boasting that I was able to recognize what everyone else probably sees as gross and obvious incompetence.

  12. Des:
    OK, I’m gonna make this even more bizarre for you, and I hope also give you a little music appreciation lesson that goes beyond this silly post. The selections all sound the same to you because you’re focusing on the fact that it’s the same song. But listen to the many differences.

    Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
    What’s the tempo?
    How does the instrumental lead-in propel you into the rest of the song?
    Where do you feel like tapping your foot?
    How does the singer attack the very first word, “I”? (Sarah Vaughan sits on it for a long time.)
    Which words get emphasized?
    What does the singer do with the word “too” before “I love her/him.”

    And listen for the completely different ways that they first say the most important phrase:
    Paul McCartney: I-I love her.
    Sarah Vaughan: aaaND I lo-ove him.
    Alton Ellis: I really love her.
    Bob Marley: ‘CAUSE I LOVE her, oh YES (yesssirree)
    Smokey Robinson: And I love herrrrr-eh-uhererr.
    Kenny Lattimore: I love herrrrr, yehhhhy.
    The Brothers Four: I love herrr.
    Bobby Womack: Ohhhhhh, an’ I just love huh-uhuhuhuhuhrr.

    Now does each version still sound remarkably similar?

  13. the chaplain said

    Now these are earworms I can live with. Better than that, I can enjoy them.

  14. Chappy:
    Well, I was hoping that somebody besides me would get a kick out of these. Do you have a few favorites? Just curious.

  15. Elaborate sentence structures and lofty oratory are what the Ladies fancy most, at least in my experience.

  16. the chaplain said

    Percy:
    The deacon would confirm that I am a stickler for complete sentences in both written and oral communications.

    Larry:
    I’ll get back to you on that question. I want to listen to them more carefully before ranking or rating them.

  17. Percy:
    Obviously, you’re hanging around with a whole different set of ladies than I am. The women I know are happy enough to deal with subliterate New-Yawkese if there’s a donut in it for them.

    Chappy:
    I eagerly await your ranking. Then I’ll tell you which ones are my favorites. (That will be tough because, except for the very last one, I think that each version has something going for it.)

  18. Catherwood said

    I like the reggae version by Alton Ellis even better than Bob Marley’s. And I wonder if the finger picker ever burns his fingers when he forgets he’s holding a lit cigarette while picking out those beautiful melodies. My own worst earworm ever will surely date me as a geezer of the first order: “Norman”, a record from back around 1960, by Sue Thompson. This was Sue’s one claim to fame and she was bundled off into well deserved obscurity soon after this annoying song dropped off the charts.

  19. Catherwood:
    Ah, yes. “Norman.” Ooh-ooh ooh-ooh ooh-ooh ooh-ooh. It sounded like she’d burnt something, not necessarily her fingers.

    Ellis’s version is probably technically not reggae, but rocksteady. I had no idea what to call the genre of Marley’s interpretation, but it sure sounds like he and the Wailers are having a gooood time.

    I trust you are, too.

  20. Postman said

    Oh, that takes me back, Larry. My first album, ever, was “Rubber Soul”. By the time I was 10 or so, I owned every album they made… and years later a sister’s loser boyfriend stole them. Sometimes one regrets that there’s no Hell.

    Here’s one for you that’s been stuck in my head for days, (in a good way):

  21. Postie:
    You are a Southerner at heart, aren’t you?
    Did you notice that I included no “Country” in my mix? There’s a reason for that.
    However, I was impressed that there was no spelling in Willie’s song. I thought that was an R-E-Q-U-I-R-E-M-E-N-T (pronounced “wreck-WAH-munt”) of the G-E-N-R-E (pronounced “johnner”).

  22. Postman said

    Larry,

    You’re a New Yorker living in Ole Kentuck and I’m a Texas expat in New York, so there’s going to be some crossover and some metaphorical butting of the heads… but I thought everyone could love Willie. Next, you’ll say you don’t like Johnny or Hank or Patsy.

  23. Postie:
    I happen to like Patsy. But my real Country Gal favorite was Patti Page, whom I was in love with for about a month when she sang “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?”

    Willie’s voice bugs the shit out of me, although it’s fun to imitate. I can tolerate Johnny. I don’t care for Hank’s yodelin’, but I do remember Jo Stafford’s version of “Jumbalaya,” which I used to sing as a kid. Of course, since we had no bayous in New Yawk, I had no idea what any of the words meant. (I thought it was a song about a person named Philly Gumbo.) Also, because of all those “o” endings, I was under the impression that it was an Italian hit, like “Come Back to Sorrento” and “Botch-a-Me.”

    Speaking of which, I still listen eagerly to my many recordings by Kentucky native Rosemary Clooney. Some of her biggest hits were citified versions of Country songs. She also appeared on “Grand Ole Opry” and something called “Midwestern Hayride.” However, I doubt that she sang “Mambo Italiano” on either of those programs.

  24. ildi said

    Does this count as country? (The beginning of the video ties back to the Beatles…)

  25. Ildi:
    No, that version doesn’t count as Country. But I don’t see the relevance; the mere mention of George Harrisons’s passing reference to the Beatles doesn’t magically tie your linked video to this post. And that poor lead singer sounds like he’s in a lot of pain; maybe somebody should give him Ex-Lax.

    Is the White Stripes’ rendition of “Jolene” an earworm for you? If so, you probably need to listen to something hummable once in a while. You can stick with “Jolene,” but choose a different version like this or this.

  26. ildi said

    What the hell, dude? You posted about enjoyable earworms, this is one of mine, painful rendition and all (did you listen to the lyrics?) I hum or whistle it all the time…

  27. Ildi:
    No, I didn’t listen to the lyrics. Do you hum or whistle them?

  28. Ildi:
    I’m going to amend that knee-jerk response, because I wrote it while still pissed off at your condescending question. Of course, I heard the lyrics. But, frankly, the way they were delivered by the singer, I’m not sure he cared whether the audience listened to them or not. He certainly didn’t take any pains to make himself understood.

    Look, a song is part music, part lyrics. If the lyrics are great and the music sucks, it should just be a poem. If the music is great and the lyrics suck, it should just be an instrumental piece. Ideally, the words and melody marry perfectly — and the song is a good one. If the words and the tune are really special, the song can then be performed effectively in a number of different styles, each of which changes the song while still retaining its essence.

    But when a song becomes an earworm, it’s primarily because of the “catchiness” of the music, its inescapability. Sane people don’t get “haunted” by a verse the way they’re possessed by a melody. They don’t find themselves reciting the same poem over and over to themselves, seemingly against their will — no matter how much they love it. In fact, most people don’t bother learning the words to a song until they’ve already been attracted by its music.

    We could have a great philosophical discussion on the art of the song. Do the words serve the tune or does the tune serve the words? Does a particular lyric cry out for a specific melody; does a particular melody hold the germ of its lyric? Do consonant and vowel sounds, separated from their meaning, count as part of the music or as part of the lyric? There are dozens of questions like that, and they’ve been discussed for ages by musicians, fans, and musicologists.

    And, by the way, I don’t believe that you hum or whistle that version of “Jolene” all the time. How can you hum or whistle screams?

  29. ildi said

    Larry: I am truly mystified by your responses. I had no intention of being off-topic, condenscending, any of those things. I guess I missed the post where you defined earworms in general, and rules to this game in particular.

    You hate White Stripes; well and good. Catchy is in the ear of the beholder. I meant that his style of singing is what sticks in my head, because the lyrics are sad, not the lyrics themselves. You hear screams when Jack White sings; I hear an awesome vibrato. It translates well to whistling. You don’t like my taste in music; I’ll quit posting any links to them.

  30. Ildi:
    No, do not quit posting links. I don’t have to approve of everything that’s linked here. Just be prepared to articulate your likes and dislikes if you do happen to post something I — or some other commenter — doesn’t care for. And feel free to challenge my tastes, too.

    Now, in your last comment you actually said something that makes a lot of sense. (I’m paraphrasing here, so correct me if I misunderstand what you wrote.) You happen to like Jack White’s delivery of the song because, basically, it “speaks” to you. The message you respond to is his expression of an emotion, not the specific content of the lyric. And earlier you said that the song was an earworm for you.

    So before I ask you my next question, I’ll tell you something about my reaction in general to the versions I posted of “And I Love Her.” If I had heard them without already knowing the song, I probably still would have liked most of them — but I’m not sure. Definitely, though, only two or three of them, if that many, would have had the power to create an earworm that I couldn’t get rid of. And they’re not necessarily my favorites. Most of those interpretations would not have created an earworm for me. But since I already did know the song, any of the versions would tend to reinforce its earworm-worthiness.

    And I’ll tell you something about your song. After having listened to a number of different versions (I posted my two favorites of the ones I found on YouTube), I went back to the White Stripes’ version and heard it differently than I had originally. It made more sense musically (although I still don’t like it). I also don’t like Dolly Parton’s original, but, oddly that’s the one rattling around my head as I write this now (although I “see” the versions I selected — so is a song visual, too? Hmmmm.)

    Anyway, my question for you is … did you already know “Jolene” in another version before you heard the White Stripes sing it? Or was their performance your first exposure to the song? I’m not trying to prove anything by asking that; just curious.

  31. Postman said

    Huh. I heard a snippet of “How Much Is That Doggie…” recently and I’ve had “Arf! Arf! Arf!” in my head ever since.

    That’s a good point about being attracted by the music before the lyrics. Just this morning I found myself humming “Last of The International Playboys”, by Morrisey, in the shower and pulled it out to listen to while I got dressed. I had forgotten that the catchy, but haunting, melody was married to lyrics about a kid murdering people to impress big-name murderers in prison. But then, it’s Morrisey, so you’ve got to expect disturbing and/or depressing lyrics.

  32. Postman:
    Yeah, you don’t get to pick the lyrics of your earworm. Whenever I listen to anything by Talking Heads, I eventually wind up singing this snippet:

    Psycho killer,
    Qu’est-ce que c’est?
    F’ fa-fa-fa fa, f’ fa-fa-fa fa. Better
    Run ruh-uhn, run run run away.

    Maybe my earworms express my innermost feelings. Shit, I hope not.

    Or maybe I just like any set of weird nonsense syllables. A phrase not by Talking Heads that I sometimes find myself repeating over and over is:

    Shirley, Shirley, Bo Birley,
    Banana Fana Fo Firley,
    Fee Fie Mo, Mirley.
    Shirley.

    I have a very active vermauricular life.

  33. Postie:
    Reading that back, I noticed there was an extra “fa” in there. I don’t hear that one.

  34. the chaplain said

    My A-list:
    Sarah Vaughan
    Bob Marley
    Chicago a capella

    My B-list:
    Motown
    Salsa
    Flamenco

    My C-list:
    Baroque
    R&B

    My F-list (won’t miss if I never hear again):
    Bluegrass
    Hip-hop

    With regard to the F-list, it’s not that the performances were bad, it’s just that those genres don’t do much for me.

  35. Postman said

    Oh, come on, Chappie. What’s not to love?

  36. ildi said

    I don’t have to approve of everything that’s linked here. Just be prepared to articulate your likes and dislikes if you do happen to post something I — or some other commenter — doesn’t care for. And feel free to challenge my tastes, too.

    Disapproval is one thing; unwarranted übersnark is another…anyhoo…

    Sane people don’t get “haunted” by a verse the way they’re possessed by a melody.

    In my opinion, songs like “Whip It” and “Turning Japanese” become earworms because of their lyrics more than their melody. Whip It is almost spoken word. The Psycho Killer lyrics you quoted are integral to making that song an earworm. Actually, I’ve had the first lines to one of Robert Brownings’ poems haunt me before…

    Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made…

    To answer your question, I knew the lyrics from Dolly Parton’s version; I know she wrote the song, but I always thought she sang it way too happy, like she didn’t really believe any woman would actually try to steal her man. “Jolene” is also covered by one of my favorite local bands; the lead singer (a woman) sings it at a bluesy tempo and with the passion of someone who is really is asking the hot chick to leave her one true love alone. Someone at the show told me their favorite cover was by Jack White; I googled it, and the rest is history. I thought it was an interesting coincidence that he mentions the Beatles in my favorite video of him singing the song. Obviously my little joke fell flat on its face. Visuals are definitely part of it. I see his pale, anguished hawtitude when I hear the song in my head.

    (Btw, the versions you linked to really suck.)

  37. Chappy:
    OK, I’ll play, too. I’m listing the genres, rather than the performers only because that’s how they were listed in the post. But my ranking refers to the specific versions of “And I Love Her,” and most emphatically doesn’t reflect my attitudes about any genre in general. Also, it would probably be different an hour from now. (Within each grouping, genres appear in posted order.)

    My A-list
    Reggae
    Fingerpickin’
    Salsa
    Flamenco
    Cumbia

    My B-list
    Island Stoner
    Baroque
    Motown
    Choral
    Funk
    Hip-hop

    My C-list:
    Jazz
    R&B
    Bluegrass
    Folk

    As I’ve said, I like them all, so my lists should probably be labeled A+, A, and A-. I listened to the songs in order and snuggled them into place. Looking at them, it’s interesting to me that of my five A-list entries, three are instrumentals and one other is in a foreign language. Also, representatives of two of my favorite styles of music are in the bottom group. Go figure.

    Postie:
    Is that example Bluegrass or Hip-hop? I like it, though, because it makes me smile, particularly the part where the guy sings “withmymindonmymoney andmymoneyonmymind.”

    Ildi:
    I do think lyrics can sometimes form part of an earworm, but not necessarily because of the words’ meanings. Some phonemes (or combinations of them) have sonic qualities, almost as if they’re instruments.

    I think you’re overanalyzing when it comes to earworms. They’re involuntary. One doesn’t start with an intention to hum or whistle them. They have nothing whatsoever to do with whether you like a song/version or not, or what the lyrics mean to you, or the emotions the singer creates. For example: Everybody who flumes through the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disney comes out humming that ridiculous song. Often, earworms are caused, simply, by overexposure to a particular tune.

    Can you explain why my linked versions of “Jolene” really suck? Teach me something, dude.

  38. Postman said

    Larry,

    That’s the beauty. It’s a (rather fun) bluegrass band playing hip-hop. They also do a cover of “Gangsta Lean” and perhaps one or two others.

  39. Postie:
    I’m often impressed by performers who cleverly mix genres. On the other hand, there’s nothing more pathetic than a failed attempt, like this pop/jazz vocalist singing a Beatle tune, or this soul singer performing Puccini.

    Oh, wait. How about these guys doing disco-funk. (Confession: That one cracks me up.)

  40. ildi said

    Really, Larry, I came here to play a light-hearted game. I posted a song that I hum/whistle a lot. Involuntarily. That I like. After I heard the version I linked to. Was this not the point of this post? What the hell do you have a hair across your ass about?

  41. Ildi:
    Ummm … You were the one who got offended when I suggested that Jack White needed to take something for his constipation. And then? OK, maybe I egged you on a little.

    However, you gave a few of us — yourself included, perhaps — a chance to listen to, think about, and comment on various performances, which is really what I was hoping people would do when responding to this post. That’s why I included so many variants. My little secret is that I’d rather write about music than almost anything else. But I don’t think my natural abilities lend themselves very well to blogging primarily on that, and I know I’d never have the energy, discipline, or attention span required to do so on a regular basis. Writing about music is much harder than writing about politics or religion, because you’ve got to find words for ideas that are not really expressible in spoken language. However, it doesn’t take too much of a push to get me going, and I’m delighted that you keep calling me out.

    I do realize that Chappy, Postie, and I may be the only ones enjoying this thread, although I’m hoping that you’ve been hooked, too. I was serious when I asked you to explain why my linked versions of “Jolene” really suck. Again, that wasn’t a challenge, just an invitation to you to bother articulating your preferences.

  42. ildi said

    No, I’m not hooked by passive-aggressive bullshit.

    I wasn’t offended at all by your lack of appreciation for Jack’s dulcet tones; I was mystified by your asshat attitude right off the bat.

    My little secret is that I’d rather write about music than almost anything else.

    Ah, now I get it; your little secret is that you’re a music snob. It all makes sense now. I dared to link to the White Stripes on a sacred Beatles thread!

    Have fun with your little in-crowd.

  43. Ildi:
    Well now I am insulted. “Passive-aggressive?” I’ve never been accused of that before.

  44. ildi said

    I’m sure people just go straight for asshole; I was trying to be polite, since it’s your blog.

    Except for the flamenco guitar on Leila Forouhar’s version, they both sound too poppy – admit it, you only like them because of the hot chicks writhing about.

    Mindy Smith’s version is how Dolly should have done it in the first place.

  45. Ildi:
    Maybe you haven’t been hanging around here long enough to know that there’s no need to be polite. Ever. If you mean “asshole,” write “asshole.”

    There’s nothing intrinsically “poppy” — except maybe to your ears — about either Leila Forouhar’s version or Queen Adreena’s. The first is clearly a Middle Eastern spin on the song. (You’re right about the flamenco, because that style grew out of Moorish influences.)

    It’s impossible for me to name the genre of the second; I hear some elements of heavy metal and some down-‘n’-dirty bayou blues, but I wouldn’t characterize it as either. To me, the most notable quality of that interpretation is the way the insistent macho drumbeats and aggressive guitar runs contrast with the breathy nymphet quality of the singer’s voice.

    You still haven’t explained why those renditions “really suck.”

    It’s definitely pleasant to watch hot chicks, but I don’t tend to judge music by the looks of the performers. Some of my favorite singers are — as they say in the South — butt-ugly. (For example: Dr. John, Cyndi Lauper, Louis Armstrong, David Byrne.)

    I do like Mindy Smith’s recording much better than Dolly Parton’s. But Dolly could never have sung it like that, with such a wistful sound and a hint of darkness, so she probably made a wise choice in recording her own song in her own style. By the way, when I do think about the lyrics, I envision the character of Jolene differently depending on the voice that’s singing about her.

    And I hope you’re happy, because even though I’d never heard “Jolene” until last night, that damn song has now become an earworm for me. I keep humming it over and over. At least it managed to shoo away “And I Love Her.”

  46. John Evo said

    @ Larry – WTF? You know how much I detest country… but I know that earworm well. I have to admit that country provides quite a few of the songs I can blunder along with (as you also know).

    @ Ildi – Don’t dare run away and leave us in-crowders alone with this guy! For one thing – you’re too damn much fun! Larry’s blog hasn’t been this spicey since the last time he spilled Tabasco on his lap.

    Seriously, I was just developing an independent streak and was gonna dump this dump, but you gave me a reason to hang out. Give him hell!

  47. Evo:
    … country provides quite a few of the songs I can blunder along with …
    Another reason to hate the genre!

  48. John Evo said

    Oh! Oh!

    Where is the love? Talk about the unwarranted übersnark! No wonder all your readers love to hate you.

  49. ildi said

    Well, maybe they wouldn’t suck if I hadn’t been listening to/humming the damn song all day… what’s intrinsically poppy? Pop is defined by what it is popularizing; i.e., doesn’t freak the parents out. Both songs sound like pop versions of the genres they’re copying.

    Re. your original post of 200 million versions of a Beatles song, compare and contrast, and I will be a minor prick to anyone to falls out of line: some songs/artists seem to lend themselves to myriad remakes/covers (Bob Dylan’s ouevre being a prime example). Maybe “Jolene” doesn’t qualify. Or, maybe for me the White Stripes version just grabbed me by the throat so much that the others suck in comparison.

    Re. your subsequent comment that versions of songs don’t determine an earworm: I think that may be true for negative earworms, but not so for positive earworms. So, anything that sounded like mango mango mango would get the earworm going; however, a specific version of a song would create the positive earworm. As I said earlier through clenched teeth re. Jolene, I had heard the DP version a myriad of times, but it was the WS version that created the positive earworm. (Actually, by the way, I find mango mango mango very soothing. I play it when I’m annoyed; it goes on and on in a cheery way, you play it as long as you need to for the bad thoughts to go away… -but I digress.)

    I think you should stick to your definition of an earworm being an nuisance song you’re trying to shed, and call music that haunts you with its beauty and power something else. Then I think the argument about the importance of lyrics vs. melody becomes moot.

  50. ildi said

    unwarranted übersnark – I was pretty proud of that one. If it was a band name, it would have a great logo: UÜ

  51. Evo:
    Yeah, I also liked “unwarranted übersnark.”

    Ildi:
    I wish Ildi you’d coined that phrase back when I was still trying to think up a name for this blog. “My Old Kentucky Homesite” sounds as if I post mainly about mint juleps.

    I’m going to have to give some thought to finding a different word for an earworm generated by a song that one likes as opposed to an earworm generated by an annoying tune like “Kumbaya” or “It’s a Small World.” Maybe you — and other readers, if they want to join in — could also try to think of such a word. If we get enough entries that many people seem to like, I’ll run a poll in the sidebar, and we can all agree to use the winner from now on.

    My initial reaction was that we didn’t need two terms because the phenomenon of an inescapable melody is the same. But the more I thought about it, the more right you seemed to be. A pleasant earworm is a different phenomenon than an irritating one.

    The first idea that popped into my head for the “good” type was “dearworm.” But I also thought of “MeTune” and “servo-chant” (a bastardization from the French cerveau = “brain” and chant = “singing,” with the extra added sense of “servo-” = “something controlled by a low-energy signal.”) I’m not wild about any of those, though.

  52. John Evo said

    I don’t know man. I think you hit a main vein when you came up with that name. You seem to have a lot more viewers than I would have suspected.

    You know… considering the talent and all.

    :D

  53. John Evo said

    Look at me with the “viewers”…. think I’m spending a little time on YouTube? You know…. Ancient Atheist?

    If you’d ever like to plug that, I’d prefer you didn’t. I already have 1,500 subs and really can’t deal with any more. It’s all too much. Really.

  54. Evo:
    OK, I won’t plug Ancient Atheist.

  55. My F-list:

    Country
    Hip Hop
    R & B

    If it sounds like it was sung by the offspring of siblings, if it consists primarily of violent vulgarity, or if it sounds like a single extended whine, I hate it.

  56. Des:
    Now you tell me, after I’ve already bought your Easter gift: Wynonna Judd and 50 Cent sing the top Soul Hits of the ’70s.

    As you know, I also cain’t stand them Country tunes. And yo! The only time I ever listen to Hip-hop is when it comes booming out of someone’s car window. But R&B? I can’t even imagine a world without Tina Turner.

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