by Steve Liddick
Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head that just won’t go away? You hear a song and then it stays with you for days—sometimes weeks. Those are known as “ear worms.”
In a semi-related subject, I’ve had tinnitus for more than 40 years. It is ringing in the ears that can come from a number of sources, including damage from loud noises and, according to hearing specialists, having taken too much aspirin.
The constant ringing drowns out a lot of sounds. That can be really inconvenient at times. Without hearing aids I can’t hear my own footsteps as I walk. I have dropped things and not been aware of it. I recently lost a set of keys and that has been an ongoing frustration.
I understand from psychologists that they often have patients come to them because the ringing in their ears is driving them crazy. It doesn’t bother me to that extent. I have adjusted to the condition. Besides, I was already crazy before the ear worms.
I mention the tinnitus because I have a theory about its relationship to ear worms.
My theory goes thus: I believe a song that repeats itself endlessly is nature’s way of placing another sound over the offending one, drowning out the ringing—giving the tinnitus sufferer a psychological break.
In my own case, when one song fades, A default tune often takes its place. It’s a bouncy tune, but one whose title I can’t identify—as opposed to the fading worm tune which is always a familiar one.
A line in an old TV commercial went: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Well, I have a trick I play on her. When I get really tired of that maddening loop, I purposely find a recording of a different song and play it repeatedly until it replaces the tiresome one.
I’ve become my own deejay.