Al Batt: These aren’t your typical corn earworms

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

I was at a ship’s graveyard.

There have been approximately 550 shipwrecks on Lake Superior. One 200-mile stretch of water between Grand Marais and Whitefish Point in Michigan has earned the name the “Shipwreck Coast” because nearly 100 ships have met their demise there. The major reasons for the high loss of ships in that area are because that part of the lake is very congested where the lake narrows; it has poor visibility due to fog, forest fires and snow; and treacherous waters occur during notorious Lake Superior northwestern storms.

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The most famous sinking is that of the Edmund Fitzgerald ore carrier, which sank to the bottom of Lake Superior about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point on Nov. 10, 1975.

While working in the Whitefish Point area, I heard Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” about a zillion times.

I like the song, but it’s a sticky song. It became an earworm.

An earworm is a melody or a piece of music that is involuntarily repeated in the mind. It’s often an irritatingly catchy tune. It’s estimated that 90 percent of us experience an earworm at least once a week. That number seems high, but this stuck song syndrome is common due to the sensitivity of our brains to music.

How do you free yourself from an earworm? Listen to the complete song, distract yourself by singing a different song (and hope it doesn’t cause a new earworm) or don’t think about it. People have told me that meditating or chewing gum helps.

I have written about earworm-producing songs before. We each have certain songs that torment us. “YMCA, “ “The Lollipop Guild,” “We Will Rock You,” “Country Roads” and “It’s a Small World After All” are common offenders, as is most of the music you hear when on hold.

Commercial jingles are often short, but advertisers use cleverness, irritation and repetitiveness to make them memorable. They capitalize on earworms.

Many of those come readily to mind. Here are some.

“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun,” from McDonald’s.

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!” Alka-Seltzer.

“Mr. Clean will clean up dirt and grime and grease in just one minute! Mr. Clean will clean your whole house and everything that’s in it! Mr. Clean Mr. Clean Mr. Clean.”

“I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener. That is what I truly wish to be. ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener. Everyone would be in love. Oh, everyone would be in love. Everyone would be in love with me.”

“My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R. Oh, I love to eat it everyday. And if you ask me why I’ll say, Cause’ Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A!”

“The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup.”

“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

“I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs.” Chili’s.

“My dog’s better than yours. My dog’s better ‘cause he gets Ken-L Ration.”

“When it says Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label. You will like it, like it, like it on your table table table.”

“Hot dogs. Armour hot dogs. What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs? Tough kids, sissy kids, kids who climb on rocks. Tall kids, short kids, even kids with chickenpox love hot dogs. Armour hot dogs. The dogs kids love to bite!”

“Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint Gum.”

“Call Roto-Rooter, that’s the name and away go troubles down the drain.”

“Meow Meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow. Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.” Meow Mix.

“Pepsi-Cola hits the spot.”

“Mmm mm good!” Campbell Soup.

“See the USA in your Chevrolet.”

“I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me!”

“Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce; special orders don’t upset us.”  Burger King.

“Give me a break. Give me a break. Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.”

“I’m a pepper. He’s a pepper. She’s a pepper. We’re a pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too?” Dr Pepper.

“Sometimes you feel like a nut — sometimes you don’t.” Mounds and Almond Joy.

“In the valley of the jolly–ho-ho-ho!–Green Giant.”

There is no effective insecticide for this kind of earworm. So you might as well relax and enjoy the concert.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.