The August Monkey

Monkey!The August monkey is Something Weird: The Musical.

I have a life-long affliction — apparently not uncommon — of having songs I hate pop into my head, where they reside for hours, sometimes days, at a time. In particular, I’m afflicted by really old songs from the 70s. Currently playing is one of my longest standing demons; the awful “Don’t Look Back” from the annoying Boston, the Beach Boys of guitars. I will admit that Boston’s first album was worth a brief teenage obsession, but the second album (from which “Don’t Look Back” is the title song) was dreadful. It was the Stephen Spielberg sequel of rock albums; take the money shot — all those harmonized guitars — double it, and leave out all the other stuff that made the first album good. And now, more than 25 years later, those guitars and those annoying lyrics buzz in my head like a tripped-over wasp nest for days at a time.

I’ve developed a defense mechanism against these unwelcome musical intrusions; I subvert them by editorializing them towards the ridiculous, after which they have a markedly decreased effect and frequency.

Here’s an example. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” — particularly the chorus — is prone to pop into my head at random. It always starts with ‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night…. Those first four words are the worst — and not just because they change during later choruses (‘Cause it’s a thriller… and “That it’s a thriller…). I hate the way Jackson sings it. It sounds like Dit – dit – dit thriller….

My cure was to think of something else that sounds like Dit – dit – dit. That was easy — whenever The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island was flummoxed by something Gilligan did or said, he would flail his hands and bat his hat and say Dip – dip – dip… Gilligan! (Dit, dip; close enough.)

You know where this is going… I superimpose the two, so whenever the song invites itself into my consciousness I end up hearing: (Skipper) Dip – dip – dip… (Jackson) …thriller… . It isn’t long before the evil DJ in my head tires of this parody and stomps off to the demonic record library in search of some other treachery.

He’s out of luck if he picks “It’s You Babe” from Styx. I confess there were a few early Styx songs that I liked, but the ballads are cloying enough for me to permanently take Styx off the play list. I particularly hated vocalist Dennis DeYoung’s crystal-clear articulation on songs like “It’s You Babe.” The opening line of the song begins Babe I’m leaving… and those four syllables have been burned into my mind as if tattooed there by a gleaming diamond.

The evil DJ digs that one out occasionally and slaps it on, so out of the blue, and beyond my control, I suddenly get BABE I’M LEEEE-VEEEENG belting through my head. Fortunately, and ironically, my cure was to give Dennis DeYoung a really bad head cold. Now, when that record spins, I hear BABE I’B LEEEB-EEEEEG. Needless to say, the evil DJ tires of this quickly.

Recently, I’ve brought a double-whammy to this one. I’m reading Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by New Yorker alumnus A.J. Liebling. For the past week, if the evil DJ tries to slip that one past me he’s met with Dennis DeYoung yelling AY-JAY-LIEBLING! That oughta shut it down for good!

10 thoughts on “The August Monkey

  1. We suffer from the same affliction… Hence, your post was absolute torture; the soundtrack of musical hell is now playing in my head.

    All I can say to you, mister, is:

    “At the Copa, Copacabana
    The hottest spot north of Havana
    At the Copa, Copacabana
    Music and passion were always the fashion
    At the Copa….they fell in love”

  2. I mix songs up all the time, in exactly the same way. Annoyingly, I wrote a post on it which was probably eaten by my old host when they went down. Agh.

  3. Mine is especially shameful. We bought a PS2 at the beginning of summer. I got Dance Dance Revolution II for the girls and Gran Turismo 3 for myself. Summer is now unofficially over and my dance to lap ratio probably stands at 100:1.

    I’m in great shape though ;-)

  4. Since ‘Lost In Translation’ I get hooked on Roxy Music’s “More Than This” to a sick degree. It’s not really a song I hate [quite lovely in fact], but difficult to purge from one’s head and a real killer to sing on key. And singing the song out loud is often the only sure-fire remedy for chronic looping disease. :/ Sing it B, sing it loud!

  5. why is it that 70s songs do that so well? my personal worse is probably billy don’t be a hero.

    but my way to get rid of songs i’m stuck with is to pass them on. if i manage to find a sucker – ahem – a friend – who’s willing (or not – i don’t need *willing* victims) to get the same song stuck in his or her head, somehow it frees me! sure, they curse me for hours. what’s your point?

  6. ARRRGGHHH! You had to do that, didn’t you!

    Billy, don’t be a hero, la-de-da-da…

  7. Believe it or not, there’s now actually a term for the affliction. It’s called an earworm.

    There was a study done recently on the hows & whys, especially why it seems to be the most obnoxious tunes that get stuck the most often. (It turns out it’s the iriitant factor that causes them to remain stuck)

    More of our tax dollars at work.

    (Mine is Winter Wonderland… regardless of the current season. Arrrrrgh!)

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