For some reason this week, the lines “oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town/this town has dragged you down” have been circling in my head, repeating in what should have been a near-maddening loop. I say for some reason because I have only listened to the parent-song (The Smiths’ William, It Was Really Nothing) once. We were playing Hatful Of Hollow in the car the other night.
But then, it’s been hard not to focus in on the rain this week whether the town you’ve been living in or visiting is humdrum or not.
I’ve been pretty happy to have this earworm accompany me – and the weather – and hadn’t, at first, thought as much about the significance of the rain falling hard bit; it was more the humdrum town that resonated as I battled against various forms of inertia and shitty news and ‘professional’ frustrations…and then later in the week the sun came out, in more ways than one…
But earlier, as the rain continued, I could hear Morrissey meshing with Marr, talking of this hard-falling rain over and over and I continued to not mind at all. Because, well, usually, as I’m sure is the case for you, an earworm is not a happy experience. The songs that get stuck in our head are not usually there because they are our favourites – they get stuck due to a catchy component. This does mean, sure, in some songwriting sense, that the song is effective – but as I’ve said in many reviews over the years praising something simply for being catchy is like raving about the common cold for the same reason. Just because something sticks does not mean it is good.
I do like the song William, It Was Really Nothing. And I do like The Smiths. And Hatful Of Hollow contains several songs that I know very well – and then some that I do not know as well as others from Strangeways Here We Come, The Queen Is Dead, The World Won’t Listen and various compilations. Or put another way, I’ve listened to Hatful Of Hollow in its entirety less than any of the other Smiths records in our house.
So this was/is a happy earworm experience. The rain has – at this stage – stopped falling hard. And just in writing these few paragraphs the song has moved on in my head and I can hear Moz lamenting/lambasting “William, William it was really nothing” despite not going back to the song or the album. I’ve listened to a bunch of brand new albums this week – as is usually the case – but this is the one that decided to stick.
It’s a much better experience than having, say Tina Turner’s Simply The Best stuck in your head. Apologies if the mere mention, let alone the link, caused an earworm for you. That’s the trouble with this topic. You might now have William, It Was Really Nothing stuck in your head – and, for you, it could be simply the worst.
Sometimes it’s the context that does it. Sometimes you hear a song you love but it’s played over a scene in a movie that you do not like, or it’s used – possibly incorrectly, as far as you’re concerned – at a funeral and now that earworm feels noxious; the song is ruined but you still can’t shake it.
So because pleasure shared is doubled and pain shared is – hopefully – halved please do share the best and worst earworms you’ve had. Do you have a recurring earworm that only occurs in a specific place or time? Is it always triggered by actually hearing the song – or can it play on a loop in your head when you’re driving through some particular humdrum town, or someone mentions (inadvertently) part of the lyric?
Have you had a new favourite song due to an earworm-moment? Or is it more likely that a favourite song has been killed for you due to it becoming stuck in your head?
I’m picking Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head as the best example of a knowing/self-referential earworm of a song. They knew what they were doing there!