Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Inspiration #4

Today's Inspiration: earworms,  sleepless nights and swallows.  Vacillating from one of thought to another, to another then back to the first, over and over again, is infuriating.  It's like a series of commercials replaying on a loop in my brain.  That was my night last night.  Though I got less than an hour of total sleep, after getting the kids off to school this morning, I am still aroused by these nagging intrusions in my brain.

Christmas songs, damn Christmas songs.  You know how it is.  Minding your own business, shopping in the mall, or maybe driving in your car, it strikes!  I won't identify any one as a likely candidate since the phenomenon is idiosyncratic.  Some researchers call it a "brain itch" that has to be scratched over and over.  I blame a Facebook post by a friend about playing the songs for weeks already and the subsequent comments about playing the music - especially the lament by her husband.  Though it could equally be attributed to the kids practicing for upcoming concerts.  Regardless, all night, one of my earworms was a Christmas song - this time, one I had written - you wouldn't know it since I have never played it for anyone but my kids.  I have only myself to blame, you might say.

Of course that was only one third of my problem.  The second "itch" came from a scene I had just finished writing before trying to get to sleep.  After getting the kids to bed I usually try to get some writing done.  Last night was particularly productive and I completed an entire chapter before realizing it was about half past two and I had to get up at six to make breakfast and lunches.  Once in bed it started, however, reworking a scene in my mind, trying it from a different character's perspective, shifting the timeline - annoying to say the least.  Trying to put it out of my head, so that I could sleep only caused the thoughts to shift over to that Christmas song.  This led to the third and most annoying shift - thinking about yesterday's post and the bird reference contained therein.

If you read yesterday's post you would have seen the exerpt from Wikipedia of the translated original lyrics of Leontovych's Shchedryk or Carol of the Bells.  They bugged me then, and even more so as I was thinking about them in bed.  They begin with the line, "A little swallow flew" about a Winter meeting between a farmer and this swallow.  I could not reconcile the implausibility of this line - swallows wouldn't be around in the winter.  Swallows feed on flying insects while airborne - so when the insects are scarce, like in the cold wintery regions of the planet, they migrate to warmer, tropical climates.  Why would Leontovych use this reference in his song then - a summer bird, an image of hope, to contrast with the winter theme, perhaps.  Or maybe he just liked swallows.  I wondered about what time of year it was when he wrote the lyrics - perhaps that influenced his choice of bird.  Or he may have simply lifted the image from a folk song he had learned in his childhood.  The possibilities are endless - enough to keep me awake at night.

I think that tonight I will try to trick my brain by forcing an earworm on it.  ELO wrote the song "Can't get it out of my head".  I always found that Jeff Lynne's vocals, and the strings and Ahhs in the background combine to sound lullabyish (well at least to me it sounds like a lullaby).  So perhaps this earworm will help to induce rather than prevent sleep.

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