Earworm

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had

Hold On Loosely–38 Special

I once spent an entire day in the Mojave desert with that song going through my head. I like neither it nor the band. But it hung there, after a chance hearing on the 138 somewhere past Pear Blossom. We were on the way to Barstow in a big pick up truck without a cd player. Radio in the upper desert was all classic hard rock and conjunto between crazy preachers. You see it all around you, the southerner sang, good lovin’ gone bad.

Hours later More Than A Feeling, heard somewhere on the 15 outside Barstow, supplanted it. You wouldn’t think you’d ever be glad to hear Boston, but that day I was. That big crunching riff. Her walking away, away, awaaaaaaaay. Every once in a while, like a distant AM station I’d hear a verse of Hold On Loosely again, but once back in the LA basin a whole string of left of the dial stations replaced it with jazz, punk rock and weird shit. 38 Special was gone.

Until today. I made the mistake of opening an email from Rockaway Records. It’s our local Silver Lake record store, just a microcosm of Hollywood’s vast Amoeba, a Whoville to Amoeba’s Forbidden Planet Krell machine immensity. I like it that way, small, easy to navigate, not so many record collectors and their socialization issues. Plus it’s harder to spend money. Even if they did just get seven thousand singles, not that I buy singles. There was a picture of a mess of them. Elvis. The Carpenters. Molly Hatchet. Southern hard rock. Not my genre. I couldn’t tell you a single song by Molly Hatchet. Perhaps that is why, due to a dearth of any associated stored memories, I heard

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had

But that’s not Molly Hatchet you idiot, that’s 38 Special. Too late, it came round again

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had

because it’s the only part of the song I knew and it is, face it, catchy. Catchy is DNA to an earworm, it latches onto it the way a virus latches onto yours, stealing it, using it for its own needs, which consist of nothing more than repeating itself over and over. And like a virus is so simple it’s hardly even alive, an earworm is so minimally musical it’s barely there at all, a fragment of music that once unleashed is somehow able to recall itself over and over and over in ways that nothing else can. We can’t recreate favorite moments like that, loop warm memories to have them replay over and over in our heads incessantly, not people’s voices, punch lines, orgasms, Eureka moments. Nope, only earworms seem to come up on their own, out of nowhere, fragments of songs we probably don’t even like:

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had

Yup, a 38 special song I am hearing because my brain couldn’t think of a single Molly Hatchet song to go along with the Molly Hatchet 45 it saw in a picture in an email. My brain doesn’t go into Close To You seeing the Carpenters single, or Hound Dog for Elvis, nope it defaults to a southern rock song by the wrong southern rock band. And I don’t even like southern rock. Hell, I lived through the Free Bird era, and Marshall Tucker, and the live version of Green Grass and High Tides Forever, which along with Hot Blooded by Foreigner and Heart’s entire catalog drove me into the depths of punk rock. But then you know what they say:

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had.

Oh god….

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