Ear Worms

I never know how to answer someone who asks me what I’m thinking because I’m rarely thinking about just one thing.  Typically, there are multiple thoughts running through my head at any given time and all of those thoughts are accompanied by background music – song fragments that play in my head like the background music you hear at the mall.  This is particularly noticeable in the mornings because when I wake up, there is a song, or a fragment of a song, already spinning round and round in there and it will often continue for an hour or two.

I have no idea why these songs appear or how they are selected.  Some I like, some I don’t. Some I haven’t heard in years.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which songs are going round and round so I decided to keep a journal of them all for one week by writing down the name of the song, the artist who I know that sang the version I’ve got stuck in my head and the lines of the songs that repeat over and over.  Because these songs –  these ear worms – are not usually complete songs, but rather, the refrains or parts of songs, I’m only going to write the lines that circulate in my brain and as I do, try to see if I can make sense of why it is that these song lyrics are rolling around.


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Monday, January 9, 2017:  Jose Cuervo – Shelly West

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime.

I have no idea where this came from.  I haven’t heard this song in years and although I like to sing along to it, I don’t like tequila.  The last time I drank tequila was in Mexico, three years ago.  Yet, these two lines were stuck in my head for two hours today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017:  Riders on the Storm – The Doors

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown.

At first I was worried that this could be a warning of impending doom.  But by the end of the day nothing tragic happened, there was no storm to ride.  And thank Heavens it turned out that way after the whole tequila thing yesterday, I probably wasn’t in any shape to ride out anything.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017:  How Great Thou Art 

Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee
How great thou art
How great thou art

This is one of my favorite hymns although I haven’t been to church in years and have no idea why this turned up, unless it’s a message from God that I should get my butt back in church. I don’t know all of the words to this one by heart, so what’s above is all that played in my head today for about an hour as I was getting ready for work.

Thursday, January 12, 2017:  Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

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Well, this is getting ridiculous.  My grandmother used to hum hymns all day.  I never heard her sing, but she could hum like a champion.  I think I’m starting to understand why. Maybe this whole record player in my head is inherited?  In any case, this one is the champion of the week so far.  It stuck around for about four hours.  Jeesh.
Friday, January 13, 2-17:  My Girl – The Temptations 
I’ve got sunshine
On a cloudy day.
When it’s cold outside,
I’ve got the month of May.
I guess you’d say,
What can make me feel this way?
My girl.
Talkin ’bout my girl.
This one is like an old friend who drops by on unannounced on a regular basis.  Of all the songs that play in my head, this one is welcomed even though I don’t listen to oldies and I don’t own any Temptations music.  Even so, this song appears in the jukebox of my mind several times a month.  I usually end up singing it to my dog, Rosie, as a result.


Saturday, January 14, 2017:  How Great Thou Art
Wow.  A repeat.  Until now, I had no idea they might repeat so often.
Sunday, January 15, 2017:  Dynamite – Taio Cruz
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Sayin’ ayo, gotta let go
And I wanna celebrate and live my life

Sayin’ ayo, baby let’s go

This is a song I love and I love to sing along to it on the radio.  But lately, I’ve only been listening to talk radio, mostly ESPN and NPR, so I know I haven’t heard it played.  The meme is also one of my favorites and sometimes the ear worm goes round and round with that version…that I’m a Lego. I need to let go.

Today, after logging these ear worms for week, I looked for some answers online and learned that almost everyone has ear worms.  Some of us have them once or twice a day and some experience them several times a day.  For me, most of them show up first thing in the morning – nothing like starting your day with a song in your heart, especially a song that drives you slowly, methodically crazy.
Although ear worms are a well-known phenomenon, sometimes referred to as auditory imagery, scientists still don’t fully understand them or what makes them work.  To learn more, check out this short video:

32 thoughts on “Ear Worms

  1. So interesting! My mind always zips along with multiple thoughts, but that’s due to a condition I have and is well controlled now. I don’t mean to say we are alike in this way at all, but music is part of my make-up as well. Oddly, I have piano scales and piano pattern drills that I sing to myself. I would hate to keep thinking of a song snippet that I didn’t like! But Riders in the Storm would be welcome in my head at any time 😃

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  2. Very interesting, isn’t it? I have the same…a song comes at random as soon as I wake up in the morning. Could be I haven’t even thought of that song in years, but there it is in my head, for hours sometimes. That’s cool you wrote down the ones you get. Maybe I’ll try that, just to see. 🙂


  3. This is wonderful. I get phrases of songs stuck in my head, too– like snippets of hymns, and rock, and occasionally a musical theater tune. I’ve never tried to figure out where these tunes come from because I figure it’s my subconscious playing games with my sanity. Better to leave well enough alone and let my subconscious have its fun. 😉

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  4. The video was interesting. I think there’s a lot to be said for that. Often times I don’t know where my earworms come from until I hear my kids singing the same things. Ugh. They GIVE me earworms!
    Last week was Paul McCartney, the week before, Stevie Nicks.
    I also hum hymns a lot. ALAWT, when I do the wash or work in the garden. How Great Thou Art is one of my go-tos, and lemme tell ya, I am not a churchy person, so I don’t know how it got burnt into my brain! 🙂

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    • Steve Nicks is one I have a lot too. Just not this week, but I do love her. Although I had two hymns this week, and although I like them both well enough, my favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. So that one didn’t show up. Ha!


  5. Interesting post, Lorrie!

    I get earworms every now and again, but for the most part what I hear if I pay attention is a tiny, high-pitched tinkling sound like miniature bells from far, far away. It’s actually delightful, although I have no idea what it is. It’s definitely NOT tinnitus, because I’ve had that once or twice for brief (thank God) periods, and it’s terribly annoying, quite enough in the long term to drive a person nuts, I would think.

    Anyway, it sounds as though your head music is pleasant and inoffensive, for the most part, and isn’t that a blessing! Your hymns happen to be favourites too.

    As for my tinkling bells, I sometimes if my long-time meditation practice might have something to do with it. The thing is, that lovely sound has become so much a part of me now that I think I’d feel lost without it. Weird, isn’t it?

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  6. I like this post for so many reasons; first of all, it’s funny. You included so many great pictures to illustrate it too. I never named the phenomenon, but I see many people have it. When I reached to part where you experienced your second hymn, I agreed with you–God’s gonna get you if you don’t come to Jesus!

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  7. How Great Thou Art runs through my brain all the time, and I love it! I haven’t heard it sung anywhere but inside my head for several years. Apart from that song, most of my earworms are connected to words I hear, or what’s happening around me. For example, I get Singin’ in the Rain when it’s raining, and I find it hard not to start dancing – weaving on and off the sidewalk, and splashing in puddles, like in the movie.
    I usually sing along to earworms. In the end they get sick of the sound of my voice, and run away. LOL.

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