I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Friday, August 11, 2017

Regarding the earworm

Why is it usually the worst songs, the songs you really hate, that get stuck in an endless loop in your brain?

This all started with Glen Campbell. When I read about his death this week, I thought about songs of his that I'd liked -- this is a clip of my favorite, Gentle on My Mind, with a smokin' guitar solo that demonstrates why, before the corny TV show and string of soft-rock hits, he'd been a well-known session guitarist, and had briefly replaced Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys.

But this isn't the song that got stuck in my brain. Thinking of Glen Campbell made me think of Jimmy Webb, the man who wrote many of his hits: Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Galveston.

And who also wrote what I personally believe (and I am not alone) is the worst song ever written -- MacArthur Park. So, of course, that's the song that's been on endless replay ever since I made the mistake of remembering its existence.

Unfortunately, I'm all too familiar with it. My mother, although an admirable woman in many ways, had a fatal weakness for both Irish actors and variety show-type crooners and Richard Harris was both. He recorded many excruciating songs, all of which my mom repeatedly inflicted on the family throughout the late Sixties -- early Seventies, but for sheer awfulness I contend nothing in recording history comes close to MacArthur Park (and I once owned an album called Hugo Montenegro's Dawn of Dylan that made people run screaming from the room.)

Everyone remembers the cake out in the rain, and how he'll never have the recipe again, oh noooooo...but that's not even the worst lyric. There's this, for one:

I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun

Huh? This is the lyric I've been especially stuck on, because I've been reading so much about eclipses and eye protection, but I still don't understand why he wants warm wine, or is trying to sneak peeks of the sun when his lover isn't looking.

But nothing tops this:

As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

You might be tempted to search it out and give it a listen to see if it could possibly be that bad, but I'm begging you: It is. Don't go there.

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