Monday, August 30, 2004

Mme. Q is to blame...

One of my favorite humor writers is Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry. More than ten years ago, he wrote a piece asking readers to send in their nominatiions for the "Worst Song Ever" in several categories. Barry hoped to get one easy column out of it; instead he got two, which he eventually turned into a book. The book includes sample lyrics for those of us not fortunate enough to have grown up with fifties radio, and offers various theories as to why certain songs drew strong votes.

The overall winner of the survey was MacArthur's Park. Barry posited that the song's win can be attributed not only to its odd metaphorical imagery of a cake left out in the rain, but also due to its having been recorded by both Richard "Dumbledore" Harris and then several years later, disco-style, by Donna Summer.

Now, I'll go on record as loathing Harris' recording and rather liking Summer's performance, so my musical preferences are perhaps questionable, even without all of the Liza Minnelli my computer selects. Although the words are repetitious, there's a dance break in the middle, and the reprises means that the words are easily memorized. On those occasions when the song pops into my head, I can usually come up with the rest of whatever line it is my subconcious wants, and then move on.

A few days ago, Mme. Q posted an entry which referenced Escape (the Pina Colada Song.). It was a passing phrase, but it was enough to tweak the corner of my mind where lyrics are stored. Now, with all appologies to Rupert Holmes, and to those who do know all of the words, this isn't a song I've ever completely memorized. I haven't heard it since April (visiting friends, who played me a live recording of an excellent a cappella arrangement) and probably not for several years before that.

I don't think "Escape" is all that painful a song, but, unlike "MacArthur's Park" the words do not repeat. This is to say that many of the words, but not all of them, repeat. There are reoccuring themes to the words and their order, but not enough - I keep thinking that "yogurt" is mentioned, but having looked up the words on the ever-reliable Internet, I now know that it's "yoga," which I have probably conflated with the actual mention of granola. Correct and incorrect words now form an endless loop in my head, no matter what else I play.

Barry needs to reissue the survey, and include a category for this syndrome. Meanwhile, Mme Q, I will have my revenge. You just wait.
"Another hundred people just got off of the train..."

Words Written: one hundred and six
Lessons Graded: twenty-four


Anonymous said...

As I think I may have mentioned before: Mwahahahaha.

I did wonder where you were getting the yogurt bit. I finally concluded you just hadn't had breakfast that day. (Either that or I'd entirely forgotten a whole set of lyrics, which certainly was - and continues to be - a possibility.)

Liza Minelli rocks, dude. And not just because she got my name before I did. Her voice is not what it was once (then again, whose is? - see recent email convo!), but she still puts on a show and a half.

Can't put a Sondheim earworm in my head, honey - sorry :-). At least in my world, earworming someone requires that they not know the whole song, so that they get brainlooped just as you describe below, and I fear I've spent too much time with Sondheim for that to work. Ah, well - it was time well spent...

I do look forward to your revenge, though.

Joe said...

The "yoga" line in the first refrain is countered with a "health food" line in the second... the reference to "yogurt" is, in fact, implied by The Great Rupert Holmes, May His Name Be Forever Blessed. The reference to "granola", I'm pretty sure, is attributable to Lemming missing breakfast.

Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs is simply one of my favorite books. It's laugh out loud funny and extremely small... which, in Washington DC, means people think you're having a fit and give you your own Metro seat as long as possible.

TeacherRefPoet said...

"Escape" is not a terribly tough song to memorize. You just gotta know the story. That's why I like the song--I love songs that tell stories. Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" is one of my faves because it does's repetitive enough to sing along after only one listen, but tells the story of a guy working up the courage to ask a woman out.


Mare Imbrium said...

For future reference:

The single most effective earworm cure I have ever found is They Might Be Giants.

One or two TMBG songs and whatever else was tormenting me gets dislodged.

I particularly recommend "Lucky Ball and Chain" and "Whistling in the Dark." Heh.