Sunday, July 08, 2001

Readers Rule

Songs that stick in your head

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This week, readers take on the job of reporters in The Enquirer's Tempo section.


  • Monday: Amazing vacations
  • Tuesday: Top books for summer reading
  • Wednesday: Cincinnati secrets and rites of summer.
  • Thursday: Where to go for an afternoon of leisure.
  • Friday: What some kids are doing this summer.
  • Saturday: Remodeling stories.
        The radio or television is turned off. The tapes and CDs have been ejected. But the music's still playing. It has wiggled its way in, becoming entrenched deep within the mental membranes but capable of surfacing at any time when properly triggered.

        The song is stuck — in your head.

        Almost everyone has at least one. It's the song they hear even when there's no music playing. What tune would that be and why? That's what we asked readers to tell us in this, the first installment of the third Enquirer Readers Rule invitational.

        Here are the songs that top the charts on their mental radio stations.

        (Warning: It can be contagious.)

Traveling back in time

        “Sh-Boom, sh-boom, Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da, Sh-boom, sh-Boom!” Made popular in 1954 by the Crew Cuts, they just don't write words like that for songs anymore. OK, these words aren't that great, but they are stuck in my mind. Why? They take me back to that summer of '54 when I was 16, had a crew cut and not a care in the world.

        The summer of '54 was filled with impromptu teen-age parties and relatively safe times. There were no drugs, no guns and little alcohol associated with the Fairmount crowd I knew. If the Friday night movie at West Hills wasn't good or its air conditioner broke, we had an outdoor party to the sounds of “Sh-Boom.” Now, whenever I pass through that city neighborhood, this song comes to mind and just drives me crazy! — Jack Espelage, 62, Union

Put me in, Coach

        Name that tune, you say. Well, I think this is how it goes — “Put me in, Coach — I'm ready to play today. Look at me, I can be Centerfield.” Yep, that's it!

        What a great song, ""Centerfield'' by John Fogerty. I hear the rhythmic melody at my high school baseball games, downtown at Reds games, and on various frequencies across Cincinnati radio stations.

        “Centerfield” captures the excitement and pleasure of the American pastime — something the modern game definitely lacks. Every time I hear that tune, I feel like a rookie second baseman standing on the top step of the dugout with my glove in hand, just waiting for the moment when the coach says, “Feldkamp, you're in.” What a great feeling! — Justin Feldkamp, 18, Anderson Township

The music's in me

        Long before Napster was invented, I've had a radio playing in my head. With just an emotional click or a spark of a word, I can download a song to match.

        Listening to the lyrics gives clues as to why it is playing. If new clothes are being tried on and my jukebox brain starts with Weird Al's “I'm Fat,” maybe it's time to recommit to healthy eating. If I'm hiking with a 30-pound toddler on my back, “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother” sanctimoniously wails.

        One recent Saturday, the nun chorus from Sister Act held services between my ears. “Hail Holy Queen” played for hours at the ball field, in the car, trying to sleep at night.

        It was briefly pre-empted by “She's Not There” when I realized I forgot to ask the other baseball parents if they wanted food when I made a bagel run. But then the sisters returned, stronger than ever, eventually extending their Brain Tour 2001 for five days. — Jan McManus, 42, Springfield Township

Little dinner ditty

        One song pops into my head these days, usually around dinnertime. It's a little ditty that chimes over and over and over and over: “The Wheels on the Bus.”

        This is the only song that would make my child Joseph, now 2 1/2, smile long enough so I could shovel a spoonful of baby food in his mouth. By the way, it works equally as well now for his 9-month-old brother, Christopher! — Lorraine Sanz, 38,Florence

I write the song . . .

        Arriving home from work, I expect to trip over the ottoman because the lively little ditty has been bouncing through my brain since dawn. The radio can't push it out. I tap my pencil to its rhythms during meetings. At night I worry our double bed has morphed into twins.

               Blame our vacation near Apalachicola, Fla. While there, friends made up a song and put the words to the Dick Van Dyke Showtheme. “Dowwwn innnn — Apalachicola, I think I should have told ya, there ain't no Motorola here! (Vvvvvrumph — boom).”

        We eventually got the sand out of our shoes, but the tune remains . . . Try it. I dare you. You'll beg for the rest of the lyrics. Then you'll beg for them to stop. — Floyd Sullivan, 50,Maineville

Just like the movies

        I graduated from high school in l947, and in fall l948 I enlisted in the Army Air Corps; at that time it was still the Army. As a young man away from home, I experienced I am sure what most young men at that time experienced: fear of the unknown, being with all strangers after living with a family for all my life. . . . It was exciting, though, and this new life was different but very challenging.

        In the first few years, I had seen a lot of movies . . ., and I always thought back on my dating years and the one young lady I had spent a lot of time with before going into the service and dated several times. . . . A movie we had seen was a love story (My Foolish Heart) with Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward, and a melody went all through the movie that had a strong remembrance to me.

        The song was “My Foolish Heart.” Even today, though not played often, it is still a great song and brings back many memories from years ago. What triggers it even now, is any type of bar scene, which is played on Turner Classic Movies and the other movie stations, where there are smoke-filled bars and laughter and a song in the background playing. This brings back a time in my life that was a sort of Camelot: People were happy, men and women were in love, and being romantic was rather quaint and quite popular. - William H. Mueller, 72, Anderson Township

Get out the umbrellas

        “I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain.” My voice cracks as I strain to reach the high note at the end of that ever-catchy tune.

        This song enters my thoughts every time I hear the first raindrops pitter-patter on the cement. And lately, that's been daily. With all the rain, my mind may be permanently etched with images of light posts, twirling umbrellas, Gene Kelly and that repetitive melody. Oh, how did it go? Ah, yes, now I remember. “I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain. What a glorious feeling. I'm happy again!” — Leyla Shokoohe, 13, West Chester

Catchy cartoon song

        My sister and I, growing up in the '80s, frequently watched cartoons such as Muppet Babies. During one of the episodes, the water was turned off so that the plumber could work on the pipes (or something to that effect). The Muppets start singing a song in which the chorus is “Oh, no the water's gone! We lost it. Now we found it!”

        Neither my sister nor I can remember any more of the song, but we think of it often when we misplace our water glass. — Ashley Kropf, 18,Anderson Township

It's baaack . . . and not alone

        A plague on both of your houses for suggesting this topic. I hadn't thought about that song in years, and now, like the poltergeist, it's baaack. I wouldn't mind so much if it were a more respectable song, something classical or jazzy. But no, the title says it all: “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop.”

        For more than a month, that song lived in my teen-age brain. I heard it in the shower, during tests, while watching TV and even in church. (I was sure I would go to hell for that.) I do not know why it stayed. Perhaps it was the beat, but I was glad to see it go.

        When it returned this time, though, it had to share time with the latest melody to haunt me, one from South Pacific. I'm sure it was sparked by recent events, and it's called “You've Got to be Carefully Taught.” — Diana Muehlenkamp, 57, Ryland Heights

Stress relief

        Music always flows through my head, but I find that one particular song always surfaces while I daydream. It's called “Castle on a Cloud.” It originates from the dramatic play Les Miserables. The lyrics explaina dream that takes place in a castle where no one is ever lost or sad. Where a beautiful angel holds you in her arms and whispers sweet encouraging words to lift your soul.

        I find that whenever I'm stressed, unable to close my eyes and dream, I can sing this song to myself. And the stress seems to slip away like a leaf over an Amazon waterfall. — Dominique Danelle McEachin, 15, Loveland

"Pink Cadillac'

        I blame it on the antique car parade that passes about 50 feet from my front door every July in Fairfield — the song “Pink Cadillac,'' I mean.

        It's a cavalcade of nostalgia. There are Model-Ts, Model-As, 1950s Chevrolets, Mercuries, Impalas, Sunbeams, ancient fire trucks and . . . a pink Cadillac.

        As soon as I see the immaculately waxed metal body adorned with its sweeping fins, whitewall tires and foam rubber dice bouncing from the rearview mirror, I can hear Bruce Springsteen inside my head.

        I love the song. I start hearing it and singing it every July when I see that pink Cadillac cruising in the parade, and the moment repeats itself the rest of the year whenever I see a Cadillac — pink or otherwise. — Michael Matre, 53, Fairfield

Rose's thorn

        Occasionally I'll find myself happily humming a tune for days on end when I suddenly realize I'm singing a commercial jingle. (Apparently, I'm watching too much television.)

        Other than that, I rarely get a song stuck in my head. But for the last few days, I cannot get the lyrics from “Kiss from a Rose” out of my head. I don't even like the song. Never have, never will. Every time I hear it on the radio, I turn it off. Don't know who wrote it or sang it, nor do I care. Just get it out of my head! — Penny Bassler, 51,Pleasant Ridge

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