What Do You Do When A Song Is Stuck In Your Head?

MusicOnTheBrainI experience music looping in my head on a regular basis, and I’m sure you can think of several times this has happened to you. I’m also a self-taught musician, having learned to play guitar by ear from an early age through careful listening, so, I have a hunch my brain is more active in the “melody-analysis” area, and that I’m prone to experiencing this more often (or at a higher volume) than others. This doesn’t affect my life in any huge external way — I carry on productively and engaged in most any situation. But in a moment of relative quiet, the internal soundtrack often cranks right up.

But Isn’t That What Vocal Hooks Are For?

I’ve found it’s usually key phrases from songs that stand out — like dramatic flourishes or expressive riffs. It’s not always the “pop hook” or vocal element that grabs me, and it can be any obscure track from any time in history, of any genre, not just so-called “popular” music specifically music designed to lodge itself in the brain.

And then, after a few hours… it’s gone. Maybe I’ve made an effort to listen to the track somehow and exorcise its hold on my spirit. Or, what was there before just gets replaced by another track.

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick – Power Pop Hook Maker Extraordinaire

Why Does This Happen?

Perhaps as early human cave dwellers, the ability to memorize sound served an evolutionary purpose. Hearing a growl in the distance might have prevented being eaten by a bear, so that would have been a good sound to repeat into memory for an advance warning next time. Or maybe hoofbeats in the distance signaled a tasty herd of beasts just over the ridge. I’m totally guessing, but it’s not implausible given what we understand about the fight-or-flight response.

What Do You Do?

I really wonder if there’s a course of action here. Is there some type of “resolution” or lesson to be learned — or does there even need to be? What purpose does having a song stuck in your head actually serve?

What do you think? Do you find that actually playing the song works to “release” the melody from your brain? Or do you find that songs usually dissipate on their own? Any guesses as to why this happens? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Space: Within our Reach… or, Redefining iCloud

A while back, I saw this news item about Lenovo & YouTube’s Space Lab project, and was reminded of an equally, if not more-so awesome father-son team who sent an iPhone into space by themselves. Best of all, they have video of it from start to end. It’s truly inspiring, gives iCloud a new meaning, and is worth a few minutes if you don’t mind being totally blown away.

Keith Richards’ “Life” Audiobook Review

Keith Richards LifeI just revisited the audiobook of Keith Richards‘ autobiography, Life, after having first listened some time ago. For me, the best parts were his thoughts about the magic of performance and songwriting, along with hearing the intimate details of how some of my favorite records like Exile on Main Street came together.

The parts where he gripes at length about Mick Jagger and Brian Jones got kinda tiresome, but I understand why they’re included, and the rest of the book more than makes up for it. For example, his unwavering respect and reverence of Charlie Watts is a constant theme. Also, the guy wrote Gimme Shelter, so, hey.

“Believe it or not, I remember everything”

I especially enjoyed the first half of the book, learning about Richards’ upbringing and what makes Keith, Keith. Hearing firsthand what it was like for a young rock ‘n roll band in the early ’60s and just how much these guys all revered American blues music was captivating and enlightening.

As for the audiobook itself, Keith narrates a few chapters at beginning and end; Johnny Depp does a few as well, and the majority is expertly read by Joe Hurley. They even won some formal recognition. All that aside, for an absolutely smashing one-on-one of the man himself doing the talking, definitely check out “Ask Keith” at Keith’s website.

Overall, this was a supremely compelling book, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the history of rock ‘n’ roll or even vaguely interested in the Stones. Because, bottom line: Keith is the real deal.

Musical accompaniment for this post:
Rocks Off, from Exile on Main Street

What do you think? Experienced any good audiobooks lately? What are your thoughts on the history of rock? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Single Image Sundays: Momentary

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Two unrelated moments make sense for a moment here. This is made from a photo of a faux stone figurine of a child sleeping, from Pier 1 Imports, in Greensboro, NC (taken with Hipstamatic John S. lens & Rock BW-11 film), along with a photo of a steel pole with peeling paint in the Church Street Parking Deck, in Winston-Salem, NC. I used Photoforge2 to combine the images via layers. The concept was inspired by my favorite photographer, Jerry Uelsmann.

What do you think? Have you ever combined two unrelated photographs for artistic harmony? What are some examples of this that you find inspiring? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Improve Your Writing Immediately: Synonym Finder

Synonym Finder

Fact: if you use a book so much you repair it with duct tape, it’s a winner.

There are plenty of books on improving your writing, and here’s one that works immediately. It’s more direct than a thesaurus and is instantly applicable for deepening the breadth of your vocabulary in the moment, while you are writing. Whatever word you’re thinking of using, check it out in the ol’ Synonym Finder and you’ll likely find a better one — or at least get to thinking about other possibilities.

Since we all write with our own voices, it’s sometimes helpful to have a tool at the ready to infuse some color when called for, especially in moments of creative befuddlement. I borrowed this copy from my father before leaving for college, and reference it to this day. It’s definitely gotten use, hence the duct tape keeping the cover attached to the spine.

What do you think? Ever use a Synonym Finder? What else do you turn to for writing tools or inspiration? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Single Image Saturdays: Spring is Springing

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From today’s afternoon walk around town. Shot via iPhone using Hipstamatic with Libatique 73 lens and Ina’s 1969 film. Full-size version over at Flickr.