I know I’ve talked about this before (although I can’t find the reference at the moment) — my brain works, um, differently.
I say this thinking specifically of music and what my brain chooses to hear when I come across a snippet of a song. My ears lock in on the melody, often to the detriment of whatever might be happening with the song’s lyrics. Mrs. Crappy is the opposite. After two or three plays, she’ll know the lyrics all the way through — but she might not be able to hum a bar of the melody.
The best example I can offer is Wilco’s Via Chicago. I hear a soaring country song, interspersed with sharp dissonant interludes, something that never fails to thrill. Mrs. Crappy hears the lyrics — “I dreamed about killing you again last night/and it felt all right to me” — and, at least the first time she heard the song, was sort of horrified.
This quirk of my synapses nearly drove me nuts earlier this week. While watching Dancing With the Stars — strictly for work, I swear — I noticed a newish Target commercial. There’s a kid, trying to drag one of those giant plastic balls out of one of those giant bins; he knocks several balls out on the floor of the store … and then Target erupts into a swirl of summertime activity: grilling, setting up tents, sliding on Slip ‘n Slides and other general merriment involving products you can purchase at a Target store near you.
And of course, I am paying attention to the music. It’s a Sixties song, with a pretty distinctive fuzzy electric guitar riff. I know the song. But something in my brain locks up, and before I can hear even just a snippet of the words — which is more than enough to find a song title these days — the commercial is over.
Crap. I know the song. And for the life of me, I can’t recall what it is.
I took to Twitter; Gina saw the commercial too, but with her family and 18 dogs and cats running around, she didn’t hear the music. The spot is apparently new enough that it hasn’t yet shown up on any of the sites I usually hit to find out the name of that song in that damn commercial I just saw.
If my brain were wired differently — if I heard the words first — I would have been able to look up the song title before the commercial break was done. And while most of the time this arrangement between my brain and me works out pretty well, this time my brain definitely left me hanging.
As soon as Dancing was over — Did I mention that I was watching strictly for work? I did? Allow me to stress that once again — I marched upstairs and fired up iTunes, thinking that Apple’s Essentials mixes would lead me to the promised land.
After an hour of searching, I came up empty. And I would have searched longer, but Mrs. Crappy arrived home from the school board meeting she had to cover and she needed the iMac to write up her story and email it to her newsroom.
I went to bed, defeated.
I was saved the next morning, though. I woke to find a tweet from @LeeDrever, a dude from Vancouver, who had the song title and the artist all ready for me. I don’t follow Lee and he doesn’t follow me; I have no idea how he came across my tweets about the Target commercial, but if I ever meet him, my brain and I are going to buy him a beer.
How’s that for a bit of obscure Sixties bubblegum psychedelia?
My brain is filled with this kind of stuff; my fear is that it will only become harder and harder to retrieve as the years pass. But my brain and I will be OK. As long as it continues to help me out once in a while.
Next you’re gonna’ tell me you remember Hot Smoke & Sassafras. Bubble Puppy, if any neurons are working…..
I’m so glad you figured it out because it was driving me CRAZY.
My brain works the same way, which is probably why I like you. I like the Camper Van Beethoven version of this song much more.