This evening, returning from a lovely dinner out with some friends, I realized — at the very moment I reached my door — that I had been replaying the same song over and over in my head for the previous twenty minutes. During those twenty minutes I had not been conscious of doing any such thing, but as soon as I caught myself, awareness and memory came flooding back all at once.
I’ve found myself doing this sort of autopilot song-playing many times, with a surprisingly large variety of musical genres. This time it was Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue”. One recent evening I realized my mind had been endlessly replaying a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (in particular, the Sad Kermit version of the Jeff Buckley cover).
My unconscious mind does not seem to favor any particular type of music. At various times I have found myself endlessly replaying everything from Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. Apparently deep down my mind has highly catholic tastes.
Several years ago some well meaning friends pitched in and bought me an iPod Touch. Dutifully I tried carrying it around the city with a pair of earphones, listening to my favorite songs. But it never really worked. No matter how much I liked any given song, hearing it through earphones seemed vaguely annoying, as though some intruder were trying to barge in on my brain uninvited.
I realize only now what the problem was: The song in my ears was most likely interfering with whatever song was already playing in my head.