Does the Music in My Head Bother You?

As we launch from home on our 4,000-km road trip to metro Phoenix, Willie Nelson plays in my head.

On the Road Again

The next five days are a steady trudge across the USofA on a route carefully planned to skirt just south of the usual snow/freezing-rain belt, while also minimizing distance. In many places, it is not a route that requires any tricky navigation.

GPS screenBut in many places it does turn out to be a route that reviews some of the music in my memory.

Some is triggered by the State we’re zooming/trudging through.

Indiana Wants Me


Some is triggered by the town we’re staying in or by the exit we’re passing.

Amarillo by Morning

Wichita Lineman

Friends in Low Places (as we stop for the night in Yukon, original home of Garth Brooks)

Some is triggered by the desert rushing past our windows along so much of the route.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

And some is triggered by the late-afternoon sun at the end of every long day.

Blinded by the Light

Setting sun along I-40. Anywhere along it.And it occurs to me how different everyone’s own play list would be, driven (haha) by the music they know and by their own unconscious associations.


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12 Responses to Does the Music in My Head Bother You?

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Sounds as if you’re making good time!
    If you went by any train tracks, were they either the Orange Blossom Special or the Wabash Cannonball?

  2. Judith Umbach says:

    You have a wide repertoire. Since joining choir, my head music is almost always from the season’s repertoire. Before choir, my ear worms were disappointingly almost all from ads. Much better class of ear worms now.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – I remember some small children singing TV jingles – they’re designed to get into our heads! Glad your choir membership is having good unintended consequences.

  3. Ian Hepher says:

    I know all those tunes. Are you California Dreaming?

  4. Wade says:

    Good picks Isabel. When we hit the desert country mine is from Willie and Leon Russell from One for the Road; “Riding down the Canyon”. On a loop.

  5. Here is the inspiration for a change from the music of the season, which I also love but from which I could use a break. Why is the music of one’s youth so invigorating? There’s another neurological puzzle to solve!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – For me, part of the answer is that I don’t listen to much modern music, so most of the music in my head is from when I was young. And I know what you mean about Christmas music – some is good, but enough already.

    • Jim Taylor says:

      Laurna, I don’t think it’s just because it’s music from our youth. It’s music from before the “Great Divide” in pop music. Once upon a time, songs were written by songwriters, not performers. The Gershwin’s, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, etc. were professional songwriters. And the performers of those songs — Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, DeanMartin and the rest of the Rat Pack — didn’t attempt to be songwriters. I’m not sure when that began to change. It might have been Paul Anka (something else we can blame Ottawa for!) but it certainly flowered with the Beatles. Now, instead of professional songwriters who knew how to craft music and lyrics, music is (or seems to be) composed by anyone who can find three chords on a guitar.
      Jim T

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Jim – I know I’m not the addressee, but I’d like to throw open this thought to anyone who knows more about music than I do. One thing I do know is that some now-famous pop/country singers (Carol King, Willie Nelson, Dollie Parton) started out as songwriters. But I take your point that strong talent in either discipline is rare enough: finding both in one person, presumably that much rarer.

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