And there’s no remedy
your face is
like a melody
it won’t leave my head
~ Lana Del Rey, Dark Paradise
Once, I read somewhere that when you take a book with you on a holiday and you read it throughout your trip, memories are stored within the book. (And I don’t mean the smeared ice cream on page 57). So when you reread the book, you will remember the holiday you took when you read the book the first time. It’s classical conditioning. We are all just dogs in a Pavlovian world filled with stimuli…
It’s known that the same thing works for music, smells, etc. Even though many people these days are probably more conditioned to the noises of their smart phone than to a real musical piece. Just for fun I started whistling the Samsung “Whistle Notification Sound” in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. I had a blast counting the people checking their pockets for their phones, wondering if it was them who was the “chosen one” to be contacted. Ah, well.
As for my part, I can say that I am very responsive to this whole conditioning thing. I have songs I love – but I cannot listen to anymore, because they remind me of something that makes me sad. Most of the time I get to break the spell by listening to the song again and again and again. White-washing it. Neutralizing it, so to say. But for some songs it doesn’t work. They are intertwined, forever. One example? Robert Schumann’s Träumerei, played at the funeral of my grandfather.
On the other hand, it is funny to see what positive power melodies can have. I once shared a hospital room with a demented old lady, who in the morning could not remember the breakfast she ordered last evening. (From “I would like to have a pear with breakfast.” to “I would never order a pear for breakfast, I cannot eat them with my false teeth!”) But she would tell stories of her childhood and sing folksongs the whole day – unlike me she remembered all verses, flawless. However, with my concussion, I basically prayed most of the time for her to shut up…
The son is very responsive to music, too. Which can be really funny from time to time. Like yesterday, when the husband was having his weekend beer and listened to Korpiklaani, the little one started singing along: “Hei, hei, hei! Olen viinamäen mies!” what roughly translates to “Hey, hey, hey! I am a real boozer!”. Our three-year-old just happily smiled and sang and played with his DUPLO. It really had its own kind of drollness.
Sometimes melodies just get stuck in your head, even though you don’t like the song. But no matter how much I hate these songs, I am able to admit that they must have done something right with their composition when it easily sticks in your head. Ear worms usually sell pretty well. People just seem to love being able to bawl along with a song – the simpler, the more repetitive, the better. And it’s mostly the lyrics rather than the melody that annoy me so much!!!