Why Do I Have “Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero” Stuck In My Head?


So you know when you get a song stuck in your head, and you know you haven’t heard it in a while, and no one’s even mentioned the song to you lately, and you truly have no idea how that song got stuck in your head? For me, I can usually trace it back to something I saw randomly a minute ago, sometimes a word, sometimes a thing that made me think of a word, and the song will run through my head for a while before I can figure out what prompted it…

Like, I’ll be shopping at Aldi’s (man I’ll miss Aldi’s when I move out of Buffalo, gotta love a supermarket that doesn’t deserve the word “super” and where you’re always a little afraid of the vegetables, but WHAT BARGAINS), and the lyric, “Harness your hopes / to the folks / with the liquor” will run through my head, and it’ll take me several minutes to realize it’s from “Carrot Rope” by Pavement and then another minute to realize it’s from when I saw carrots in the other aisle a minute ago.

ANYWAY, what if these “song prompts” didn’t come from something said or seen? What if they came from…

1 … THE FUTURE!!11!!!? Your main character could keep having these songs go through his head BEFORE the prompt. Like, umm… he’d be driving around with “Rocking Robin” inexplicably running through his head and then he’d run over a dead bird on the street. Or he’d have “Burning Down the House” go through his head on his way home and then… you get the idea. Incidentally, the first, most extreme song idea that occurred to me was R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of the World as We Know It [And I Feel Fine]”. And I said to Gretchen, “What if he was just walking around with that song in his head and he’d just gone through all these song prompts from the future and he was humming and was like, “What song is in my head now. Oh. Oh, sh-” But even better was her idea that he’d be walking around with a bit of one verse stuck in his head and be thinking, “Why do I keep thinking about Michael Stipe yelling ‘Leonard Bernstein!’? What the fuck is that from? Oh. Oh, sh-” etc.

Of course, not all of the future-songs have to be prompted by terrible things. What’s so wrong with silly love songs, and all that.

2 … other people? What if your main character were picking up thoughts or images from other people in a psychic way and they become transmuted in his head to song lyrics? Maybe he doesn’t know it for a while. (How would you figure that out, actually? The future one’s easier to reveal.) Or maybe it’s from one specific person. Maybe it’s even that he’s getting it from a girl, and she’s getting his song prompts? A love story! Or a love story gone wrong is always more fun, like if you think that hey maybe these two belong to each other and then instead all kinds of emo shit occurs.

3 … someone else’s songs? Songs your main character hasn’t even heard before. Maybe they’re not even in his language. Maybe they’re space alien songs! (Okay, bad idea.) Maybe he thinks these songs (probably in his own language) are songs he’s made up. Maybe he’s a songwriter? He writes these songs that start going through his head and then he finds that they’re from like a radio station in South Africa that there’s no way he could’ve heard. Woooo spooooooooky. I have no idea where this one would go, but it could probably go somewhere!

4 … THE PAST!!!?! Okay “the past” doesn’t get capitalization and exclamation points usually. Actually, that’s because this idea is much more boring than the future. Moving on.

5 … AN ALTERNATE PRESENT!!!!111!? The songs that go through his head maybe just start out with slightly different lyrics, and he’s all, “Cheese and Rice, why’s this song I know stuck in my head all funny-like?” Then he gets like a John Lennon song about the Year 2000 coming up or some such that help him figure out that he’s tapping into an alternate timeline. And these random song lyrics start revealing what the alternate earth is like. And it’s… interesting? Maybe there’s even an alternate him getting song lyrics from our world and they… communicate somehow? Or MAYBE the main character is in the alternate world and can’t understand why he’s getting Paul McCartney songs he doesn’t remember stuck in his head when McCartney died in 1980.

Hey that reminds me of Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” which I haven’t read but has the fun idea of an alternate history in which Germany and Japan won WWII. But the best (and most Dickesque; hey did you know his middle name was Kindred?) part is that one of the characters in it is writing an alternate history in which Germany and Japan lost. Doesn’t that rock? Oh you wacky Dick.

Alright, I’m outta variations on this for now.

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