Yesterday, I listened to an NPR Science Friday podcast featuring an interview with author, artist and neurologist Oliver Sacks. Many years ago, I read his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and found it fascinating – although he is probably better known for Awakenings. In this interview, he was talking about his new book, Musicophilia. He discussed his belief that humans are “wired” for music, despite no apparent evolutionary suitability (although he has a couple hunches – among them, social bonding – as to why this would be a preferred trait). Young children seem to dance and keep time, non-musicians tend to anticipate musical patterns in songs they have never heard, many people experience music visually, etc. etc.
Sacks spoke briefly about what he calls “earworms”, which is that strange yet common situation when you have a song stuck in your head and it won’t go away. This happens to me sometimes, usually when I awaken. Some random song comes along in the night and doesn’t recede when the dreams do.
So, let’s go meta. Find the chicken and the egg in my last 24 hours:
- I heard Sacks’ “earworm” interview;
- I went home and (among other things) watched television, including an episode of Boston Legal, which I’ve never seen before. I noticed a number of location errors, but more important, recognized guest star Thomas Wilson, who played Biff in Back to the Future;
- I woke up this morning with the song “Earth Angel” circulating relentlessly in my head. It’s still there.
Damn.. we are weird creatures. But in this instance, I’m sorta wondering who did what to whom.