January 29, 2008: Radio In My Head

One of my favorite terms in the world is “earworm”. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s a name for those annoying songs that get stuck in your head and often can’t be dislodged except by replacing them with other songs.

I’ve been lucky in that infestations of earworms are few and far between. It’s not that I never hear music in my head — I do almost all the time. It’s just that the songs I hear aren’t annoying and I can generally change them at will. It’s like having a radio in my head.

Right now the radio is playing the Shins’ “Red Rabbits.” I suspect it’s playing in my imagination because I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, trying to decide if I love it enough to include it on my “10 All-time Favorites” list. You might say that if I have to think about it, it doesn’t belong on the list, but I’ve over-thought this to the point that I’m ready to jettison all the songs on the list. So far, “Red Rabbits” is on the list, but if I remember something I adore even more, off it goes.

In no particular order, here’s the whole list as it stands today:

  • “Beautiful Day” (U2)
  • “Scarlet” (U2)
  • “Tomorrow” (U2)
  • “Drowning Man” (U2)
  • “Save It For Later” (English Beat)
  • “When the Stars Go Blue” (written by Ryan Adams; any version works for me)
  • “Red Rabbits” (The Shins)
  • “Love is the End” (Keane)
  • “Disappear” (INXS)
  • “2000 Miles” (The Pretenders)

A song goes on this list if it makes me ache and if I can listen to it dozens of times in a row without getting tired of it. There are about 200 songs I really love, but they don’t have that particular combination of moving me and staying fresh to my ears.

And now the imaginary radio is playing “Disappear.” Life is good.


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