Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best that you can do

This morning I was doing dishes, with no TV or radio on in the background. I was left to my own brain for entertainment, and what popped into my consciousness?

"Arthur's Theme"

Yes, Christopher Cross' soft rock song from the movie Arthur. Well, not the whole song. Just the chorus: "If you get caught between the moon and New York City..." and so on.

Here's the thing: It's not as though I heard it recently and it got stuck in my head; I hadn't heard that song in longer than I could remember (years, possibly decades). I never owned the song, either on vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, mp3, or piano roll. I don't even recall seeing the movie Arthur in its entirety.

So, at some point in my youth I heard that song on the radio. That much I'm certain was the case; it was pretty popular and got airplay in its time. And it's not a bad song, by any means, but at no point would I consider myself to have been a fan of it.

And something else worth noting: I have over 26,000 songs in my music library, almost all of which I've heard more recently than when last I heard "Arthur's Theme" and most of which would rank higher in what I like than that song.

But when the moment arrived that any of those songs could have been referenced by my gray matter, instead came... a chorus ending with the line "Best that you can do is fall in love." And it kept repeating over and over, because my mind never paid enough attention to the rest of the song to know any of the verses.

What this says about the state of my sanity is best not discussed further. However, it does seem to indicate that the advent of and ubiquity of the portable mp3 player, while allowing me to have almost constant access to the songs I like, has less influence over my idle brain than did pop radio from decades past.

I'm not sure whether that is due to a profound difference in the format in which the music is presented or due to the greater influence of experiences from youth over experiences of the years after youth.

But assuming it's the latter, this means that a young person growing up today (in the era of the iPod) who decades from now is unfortunate enough to have a moment of quiet for his brain to fill will be more likely to get a song that he used to have on his iPod than a song he recalls from the radio.

And if he happened to have "Arthur's Theme" on that iPod from his youth, then that will undoubtedly cause a rip in the time-space continuum that will destroy the known universe. So, with apologies to Mr. Cross, we need to eliminate all mp3 copies of that song and keep children from being exposed to it, just to be on the safe side.

It goes without saying that I would have been well-served by a lobotomy, but the time for that to intercept my moment of getting lost between the moon and New York City has passed. But I will pledge to humanity and any other beings in the universe that I will always keep some source of background noise on at all times, so there'll be no future opportunities for obscure pop songs to invade my idleness and start this wormhole of potential devastation. I know it's crazy, but it's true.

Or everybody could chip in for the lobotomy.


  1. ...because that's what I wanted to be humming to myself as I get ready for bed tonight.

    Thanks so much. you think you can you get a group rate for the lobotomy? i wouldn't mind getting one for myself as well.


  2. Word association:

    "Athur's Theme" = Arthur C. Clarke = "The Ultimate Melody" = "Tales From The White Hart."

    You're the victim of an almost ultimate melody. If you were exposed to an ultimate melody, you don't need a lobotomy - because the melody does that by itself! Beware!


  3. Howdy Doug! LTNS!

    Arthur was a great comedy, and the strong association of a song, even a "bad" one, is hard to overcome. Ghostbusters is similar case that leaps to mind.

    The "greatness" of a song is often measured by its persistence in mind rather than its actual lyrical or melodic merits. Just remember this: Beethoven never sold a single record, but Thriller went multi-platinum.


So, what do you think?