The View from Faraway Farm: Just learn to roll with the earworm

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During the time that I lived in Charlestown, N.H., I was working in my back yard one day. We lived at the end of a road on a cul-de-sac. It was very quiet for some reason, no children playing, no one mowing a lawn. Suddenly I heard a couple of kids talking. You could tell they were moving quickly due to a bit of doppler effect. The wind from their movement caused them to practically shout. By the pitch of their voices, I assumed they were maybe 12 or 13 years old and on bicycles coming down the hill on the smooth paved road. One of them launched into the Sheryl Crow song "Every day is a winding road." Then I overheard their shouted conversation that ensued about their discovery of the road we lived on and the fact that they never knew that it existed. It's funny how you remember little clips like that.

This evening I'm cruising the Intertubes and I see a Youtube of Sheryl Crow performing the aforementioned song on Howard Stern's radio program. In researching this I learned about the urban legend surrounding the song. The legend goes that Crow was opening for "Crowded House" when she wrote the song and that their drummer Paul Hester had committed suicide. The upbeat song was reputed to be about Hester's suicide. How ironic, and completely false. Before performing the song on the Howard Stern clip Crow explained that her band and Crowded House had become close on the tour. When Hester suddenly quit the band due to anxiety over leaving his wife and newborn daughter to go on tour, Crow wrote the song. It had nothing to do with suicide. Hester and wife had named their daughter Sunday, and a loose reference was the lyric "he's got a daughter he called Easter, she was born on a Tuesday night." What stuck in Crow's head was Hester's explanation for leaving the band when he said, "Every day is a winding road mate, it's time for me to veer off." So yeah, it's a happy song about the way our lives change as we go. Unfortunately, some nine years later Hester did commit suicide, but that was completely unrelated to Crow's song.

So this song had become a traveling earworm for me long before I had ever heard this story. I took it in the context that a pre-teen kid presented it on a speeding bicycle as he rolled into my neighborhood on a quiet Saturday morning. When you discover a place that breaks out into a clearing after negotiating a winding road and the road comes to an end, or you travel an unfamiliar road that suddenly dumps you onto a very familiar road, that song touches off in my head. Then, quite typically it plays and plays until I realize that it isn't going to stop and I have to resort to some anti-ear worm remedy like turning on the car radio to some station that I never listen to. Sort of like "and now for something completely different." Maybe a few strains of a violin concerto on Vermont public radio will banish an earworm. It's more difficult when I am alone and this happens. If I start a conversation with my passenger that is often enough. On a motorcycle ride, it is nearly impossible to get rid of an earworm song like "Every day is a winding road." That song is almost a motorcycling anthem. If you ever happen to start it playing in your head I can honestly say that all hope is lost, just roll with it. Thank your lucky stars that it's a good tune.

Now, to give credit where credit is due:

Writer/s: Brian MacLeod, Jeff Trott, Sheryl Crow

Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Ole Media Management LP

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett can be heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3 and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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