What is it about some songs? The ones, I mean, that instantly snick face-hugger-like claws into your brain and stay there all day, or indeed all week for the really good — or truly awful — ones?
Mexican Radio is one of my biggest bugbears — two words will do it. I love it, but after 3 days of mumbling the chorus to myself, I could do with eine kleine Nachtmuzik. Adam Ant tends to skitter about in my head for a bit too, as does just about anything by Madness (the Ant was hawt! don’t look at the wikipik!) with sneaky forays by Billy Idol. (What can I say, I’m a child of the 80s. Duude.) Then there’s the occasional Chuck Berry (Nadine! Baby is that you?), sometimes a dash of the Man in Black (One Piece at a Time). Incongruously, there’s Brimful of Asha by Cornershop, and fill-all-the-other-gaps appearances by the Beatles and the Stones. Those are only the first that came to mind, by whatever meandering course my brain takes. I could list 2 dozen others and some of my more musically dedicated friends and ex-es could probably triple that list without a second’s thought.
I don’t consider myself particularly musical, neither in terms of skill (hah!) nor in terms of knowledge or constant background sound. I don’t associate certain songs definitively with certain events — instead, they seem to make up a sort of audio-tapestry; look too closely and nothing applies, pull back enough and everything touches everything else. Do we all have some kind of internal music going all the time, which we don’t always stop and listen to?
A large part of mine is made up of hits from my teens — like smells, they seem to trigger all manner of lovely/horrible memories. Saturday night dances in echoing gyms, cranking up the walkman till one’s ears bled (or the cheapass headset died), jigging about at the back of the bus, getting lost in the wilds/urban jungle late at night and just a little too young to not be scared, making mistakes, doing the right thing, drinking too much, growing up, not growing up — all that stuff.
There’s a lot that predates me entirely, or post-dates my teens by quite a bit. They do all have a common factor though: good music, sticky music, is the stuff that either gives you goosebumps when you haven’t heard it for a while, and/or makes you want to cry right as you’re belting it out at the top of your lungs in the car (or shower or wherever). Great music smacks you right in the emotional solar plexus, and doesn’t even need to be good to do it. It just needs to resonnate.
Stuff I hate sometimes sticks too — How far we’ve come gives me anti-shivers and makes me want to hit something instead of cry. This needs no justification, it’s a purely subjective gut response. Fortunately, the “bad” stuff doesn’t stick as long and not nearly as often, since I don’t tend to think about songs I dislike unless I hear them somewhere by accident.
While I don’t in fact have music playing all the time, or indeed much of the time at all, at least not out loud, I’m pretty certain it’s an integral part of who we all are. We may dance to different tunes, but we all have them.
And finally, a little plug for a shamelessly wonderful local radio station. They certainly play what I want! Now if only I could time-warp all the stupid car commercials…