I think we’re all familiar with the concept of the “Ear Worm”, a song that gets stuck in your head and refuses to leave no matter what you do. Usually it’s one that you hate and would probably be willing to cut off your ears to avoid hearing ever again. With me, that song is “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, or as I always knew them, Men Without Talent. I won’t add a link to the video, as I don’t want to alienate any of my readers, precious few as they are. However, this post is NOT about that kind of ear worm.
October and November were particularly rough months for me, both at home and at work (Five Years, I Know It’s Over, Oops I Did It Again) and I will admit to not being in the best of moods. As I’ve said elsewhere, the music played at work is dreadful, ( On Repeat) and if I never hear Cyndi Lauper caterwauling “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” ever again, it will be about 50 billion years too soon.
In order to compensate for all this, especially as the Christmas music started the day after Thanksgiving, a song popped into my head, sat down, put it’s feet up and reached for the beer. Only a couple of weeks before this, I had completed reading “Publikation” by David Buckley, a well researched and equally well written history of Kraftwerk. As a result, Der Fab Vier featured prominently on my iPod as I walked to work. I know their music is seen as repetitive, and to some extent it is, but it brings back many happy memories.
I think it must be related to my Aspergers, but the song that drilled itself into my brain was “Pocket Calculator” from the album “Computer World”. You see, that particular track is very sparse, the lyrics are spoken and the themes simply repeat over and over again.
I find it a very comforting track, almost an aural hug, if you like. It’s stripped down nature has a calming effect on me, and having it play in my head for hours at a time allowed me to reach a state of detachment meant that I could do my job without perseverating on my situation. One other thing that makes this track special for me is that back in 1981 I saw Kraftwerk perform at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool on their Computer World tour. This is the tour that was famously delayed as the band had to work out how to bring the entire Kling Klang studio with them. I don’t know if you can imagine the sight of a couple of thousand Kraftwerk mad Scousers dancing like berserkers while four men stand on stage behind what look like post modern ironing boards not moving an inch. It was a fantastic night, and I remember being one of the crowd after the show pressing their faces to the bars over the green room window shouting our thanks to the band. BTW, Liverpool loves, and I mean, really loves Kraftwerk.
Another thing about this track is that it represents the actual birth of Electronic Dance Music. If you’ve ever been to a rave, attended a Skrillex concert, bought a track by Daft Punk, Deadmau5 or Swedish House Mafia, you owe it all to four guys from Dusseldorf. I know this may sound like hyperbole, but listen to the riff at 2:50 and tell me otherwise. I have to say that it seems a bit weird to have been present at the creation of an entire music genre, but I was, as was everyone else who attended a gig on that tour or bought the L.P.
So now you see why I made no attempt to work the song out of my consciousness. I just couldn’t. It was like a self generated security blanket, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As things have calmed down and my life has assumed a state of what for the sake of argument I’m going to call normality, the track has popped up less and less often, and pretty much not at all for the last couple of weeks. I don’t know if it was purely a stress reaction, or if the book sparked something, but whatever the reason for it popping back into my head and taking up residency, it did me the world of good. I’ll be fine from now on, as long as no one tells me “You can dance if you want to”.