May 21, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Sunday, 15 July 2012 23:00
While I was browsing through iTunes, looking for music to play at my daughter’s wedding so the old-timers would have something to dance to besides Lady Gaga and Weird Al Yankovic, I came upon the classic Isley Brothers recording of “Shout!”
Whenever they play that song at a wedding, pandemonium erupts and even people on crutches get off their seats and start jumping around, waving their hands, kicking their feet and swinging their crutches like lethal weapons, as if they’re at a Texas revival or an exorcism -- or in serious need of Pepto Bismol.
A good time is had by all, and when the ambulances arrive, everyone is thoroughly exhausted or unconscious.
The song brought back so many memories I couldn’t stop playing it. Then, my addictive personality took over, and I started bogeying around the living room, jumping on the sofa and over the coffee table, while the dog barked, chased me and nipped my feet.
Once or twice I tried to do a split just like Ronald Isley, but I didn’t make it -- to my extreme discomfort. My wife insisted God was punishing me for acting like a 13-year-old.
Things really started to deteriorate when I found myself waking from a sound sleep at 2:07 in the morning with Isley Brothers singing in my brain.
“YOU KNOW YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT! Wooo wooo wooo! A little bit softer now! A little bit louder now! Hey hey hey hey, jump up and shout now ... everybody shouting now!”
By the third night, the Isleys were still shouting and doing splits, and I couldn’t get the lyrics out of my head. Didn’t they know I needed my beauty sleep?
I tried replacing the song with “Moon River” and “Strangers in the Night,” so I could get some rest, but the Isleys refused to give up the stage to Andy Williams or Frank Sinatra.
They even started tormenting me during the day. A coworker was grumbling about her back problems, but all I heard was “A little bit softer now!” A friend told me he might lose his job and I heard, “A little bit louder now!” And when the pastor complained about the poor collection, I saw Rudolph Isley at the pulpit yelping, “Wooo! Wooo! Wooo! Somebody save me!”
This torment, I learned, is what psychologists call an “earworm,” or “involuntary imagery of music.” A researcher at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology described it as “an experience when you get a song or a piece of song such as a chorus [stuck in your brain].”
The cure? Experts say to avoid anything that will remind you of the song, and in some cases, you may need psychiatric treatment, which probably means I’ll miss the wedding and my opportunity to do a split on the dance floor.
I was a desperate man so I finally took the song off my play list and replaced it with “People.” I thought that might let me sleep, until I woke up at precisely 2:07 a.m. and heard Barbra Streisand in my brain, “People ... people who need people are the luckiest ... YOU KNOW YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT!”
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