Maarten wrote some time back about a phenomenon in music we call “ear worms,” though I cannot locate that specific piece. I’ve been suffering a bad case lately. Two songs have haunted me, one that I resent, the other that is just fun.
The one I resent is “Paul” McCartney, the original Paul, singing “For No One” from their 1966 album Revolver. It is a haunting melody about losing a lover, that devastating feeling most of us know when after deep emotional involvement, we simply don’t matter anymore. Nothing can be done but get over the pain and move forward.
Have you been there? Me too. The problem I have is that “Paul” at the time this song was published was the most famous rock star on the planet. He was publicly dating Jane Asher, a fake relationship designed to misdirect us from there being two Paul’s. There is no photographic evidence of any deep emotional attachment between the two. I doubt either “Paul” experienced rejection after attaining their (“his”) fame. The true author of that song, I think, knows the pain, but our “Paul” is merely credited with authorship because he, or they, are public faces who are given credit for far more talent than they possess. That was the deal they signed on to, and I often wonder about the silent talent behind them. Is there resentment?
Did Pauly get dumped and sit down and write this engaging melody? Nah. The man is a phony, but I would like to know the true author of that song, and if if he is still among us, give him due credit.
Ever since I wrote my piece titled “McCartneyism,” a play on the word “McCarthyism,” that song has been haunting me. My solution is to substitute a different ear worm, one more to my liking, and I stumbled upon it watching a TV series called Bosch, season 3, episode 5. The Bosch character is not easily unraveled, the son of a murdered prostitute on a lifetime mission of avenging injustice. He’s a straight arrow, but complicated, and in this episode, as he bonds with a young man sharing a similar troubled past, that boy is murdered. Bosch has to ID the body, and as he does in the background they play Going Home, a lovely piano piece by Charlie Haden and Chuck Jones.
The song invokes deep sadness, like, maybe, you know, getting dumped by a lover. Going Home is actually a popularized version of Largo from the New World symphony by Antonín Dvořák. It is a twelve minute movement which, if you’re in a reflective mood, can be enjoyed here. Classical composers, for the most part, worked without benefit of words and so had to impart emotion by instruments alone. That takes lifelong work and serious talent.
I can live with that ear worm, as it is lovely and does not promote a phony personality. But I have been troubled by yet another.
We live in the foothills above Denver, and rely on well water. The aquifers are difficult to comprehend, but this much I know: The well ain’t always reliable. We have a 300 gallon tank because our well is so slow that we need a reserve. We draw on the tank, and the well replaces our use with new supplies. Sometimes, as now, during a drought, replacement is slow. The tank is made of heavy plastic, and we can see the water level at all times. We worry as it runs low and does not refill. We constantly check it. Having to re-drill or deepen is a spendy proposition.
As a joke I took some tape and wrote on strips of it “Oh gee,” “Oh fiddle,” Oh heck” and “Oh dread.” I put the tape at various levels on the tank. I wanted to make my wife laugh, as she would instantly understand that these are words from the Boa Constrictor song, as in “I’m being swollered” by one, performed by Peter, Paul and Mary on their album for kids. I thought it would take days for her to stumble on the joke, but within minutes she was in my office and laughing.
Now that song is stuck in my head.
We’re off on a hike today, and either For No One or Boa Constrictor will be in my head. Try as I might, Going Home, which I cannot get into my head, will not be there. Ear worms are a mild form of torture.