I woke up this morning with the Beatles’ Lady Madonna in my head. I haven’t heard the song in ages, and yet there it was, floating around. It wasn’t that I was thinking about the song. It wasn’t an image in my head, it was the song itself as if there were a radio in my head. This happens a lot actually. I will wake up with a piece of music in my head, or it will suddenly be there playing along where there had been silence a minute before. Sometimes it will be a fragment of a piece that I’ve been playing, particularly when I’m at a music workshop. When this happens, it’s most likely that the piece of music is a very short fragment that will repeat over and over and over and … It is maddening! It can go on for days, and nothing will stop it. I just have to wait it out. When it is a random song in my head, as it is now, it will prance around for a little while. It’s easiest to pull the piece up on my iPod and listen to it. Oliver Sacks calls these brain worms**, which I think is an apropos term. The piece of music wiggles its way in a stays a while. It catches you off guard when you aren’t thinking about anything in particular – ta da! – there’s the music. It’s never just the tune line, or one particular part of the music, it’s the entire orchestration, accompaniment, harmonies and all.
What I don’t know is how my brain picks its particular station. I haven’t listened to any Beatles in a while – several weeks at least. The last two days I’ve been listening either to a classical radio station or to a podcast. And yet: “See how they run…”
I’m off to listen to the song in the hopes of returning this particular brain worm from when it came. Who knows what the next one will be?
**correction – ear worms. Oops.