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Glowing earworm

By Nickunj Malik - Jul 15,2015 - Last updated at Jul 15,2015

I wish there was a dummy’s handbook on how to get rid of earworms. Incidentally, I love all the handbooks that are actually written or recommended for dummies. You know like, “500 French words for dummies”, “Basic yoga postures for dummies”, “Bond investing for dummies”, “Interpreting body language for dummies”, “Improving entire metabolism for dummies”, “Bartending for dummies” “Boosting your self-confidence in a day for dummies” and my all time favourite-”Borderline personality disorder for dummies”.

The last one, believe it or not, is in its fifth edition. There must be an inherent need for people on the cusp of disordered mentality to reach for this self-help book. I must place an order for one too because I like reading ridiculous suggestions on inane stuff.

But I hope by the time I get my hands on the tome, my earworm would have receded because the crazy Beatles song “Let it be” is driving me insane. Actually, there is nothing wrong with the legendary number, but the way it is resonating incessantly in my brain is turning me into a neurotic.

What is an earworm? Well, it is those annoying tunes that lodge themselves inside our heads and repeat on an endless loop. In other words, it can be any snippet of a catchy song that gets stuck in our minds and keeps playing like a broken record. Over and over again, that is.

So, I woke up today to the sound of a Beatles track, especially the lyrics, “when the broken-hearted people, living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be”. And after that the line “there will be an answer, let it be”, seeped into my mind and refused to exit. I did my morning yoga, ate breakfast, read the newspaper, bought the groceries, went to the drycleaners and also visited the dentist but the nagging tune kept reverberating in my ears.

This is serious trouble, said the voice in my head. It ironically echoed the opening stanza of the song “when I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be”. I looked all around me; there was no sign of the Madonna. This meant that I was basically left to fight my own battles. Or face my own demons, so to speak.

An Internet search revealed that now scientists might have found a way to help. Researchers claimed the best way to stop the phenomenon was to solve some tricky anagrams, which could force the intrusive music out of our working memory, allowing it to be replaced with other more amenable thoughts. But they also warned not to try anything too difficult as those irritating melodies might wiggle their way back into our consciousness.

“Sudoku puzzles prevented the songs from replaying in our heads, but if they were too challenging it had little effect. Anagrams were more successful and solving those with five letters gave the best results,” I read out.

“Like Right is an anagram for Girth?” asked my husband.

“Maybe,” I said.

“Beamy or Embay,” he supplied.

“The song is not going away,” I complained.

“Why don’t you try repeating — she sells seashells on the seashore?” he offered helpfully.

“Or say — Betty Butter bought some butter but the butter that Betty bought was bitter so Betty bought some better butter to make the bitter butter better,” chanted our daughter.


“There will be an answer, let it be,” I sang.

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