Now that it's over, I feel like I can talk about this.
Over Memorial Weekend, which for the non-Americans here fell on 26-28 May, I found myself at a rodeo.
Not intentionally. I had gone out to the hills to see my brother, who lives in a dinky little town surrounded by wine fields up North. This little town happens to hold a big parade and rodeo every year. The rodeo is held on a property that sits adjacent to my brother's place. The rodeo was in full swing by the time I arrived.
So we are chilling in his backyard, getting to enjoy, for free, all manner of rodeo business: dancing horses, monster trucks and dirt bikes, people racing these souped-up riding lawnmowers, and some other country-type activities that I couldn't even identify. A tall, pretty cowgirl made the horse she was riding stand up on its hind legs, and she made her hand into a pistol and pretended to shoot me, while winking and smiling; I have to say I felt pretty cool right then.
After the main rodeo events , the local cover band took the stage and… performed a bunch of cover tunes. They had a solid if predictable repertoire of songs, including c/w stuff: "She's Gone Country (looka them boots)", lots of that kind of thing, and plenty of Classic Rock: .38 Special, Allman Brothers, and a bunch of others that I recognized but don't know the names of.
Their set was starting to wind down, when they go into "Rocket Man" by Elton John. I felt like this was a good choice because they were able to feature their pedal-steel slide guitar guy in the part before the chorus where they go "cause I'm a rocket ma-a-a-an" and there is that slide guitar shooting up the fretboard and off into space. You know what I mean. By this time I admit to having drank over a half-bottle of some pretty decent Junmai Gingo sake to myself and feeling happy but vulnerable and disoriented. I don't really drink much, or very often.
I don't know the words to "Rocket Man", but I've always thought it was generally about drugs. My brother insists that it is about someone coming to terms with their homosexuality and the implications of that within a "traditional" family. That's fine with me though it seemed incongruent with the prevailing country-type lifestyle thing. And with the rodeo etc.
Anyway I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden I became very tired and kind of sad, and confused. I knew that I shouldn't be driving a car, at least. The band stopped playing, "Rocket Man" having been their final number. I laid down in the grass and closed my eyes. Everything was sort of spinning. The band had stopped but I could still hear "Rocket Man" playing on. And on. And then over. And over.
I got up, all dizzy, and went inside to lay on the couch. "Rocket Man" continued to rewind and replay in my head. After the first few repetitions I began to hear it as performed by Elton John, rather than the cover band (even though they hit it pretty damn close - a cover band where the singer can emulate almost anyone). This went on for a while, then I passed out.
Woke up a bit later. "Rocket Man" was still playing. We put some techno on the home stereo. It sounded strange and polyrhythmic on top of "Rocket Man", not in a good way. I took a little drink of sake.
This went on for days and days. Since I don't know what the hell he's saying, the only parts that kept playing through my head were the parts about "raise the keeds" and the pre-chorus, and most of the chorus. I still haven't looked up the lyrics.
It became maddening. I couldn't even have a conversation with anyone, because I was staring at the floor thinking about the song. Making music was out of the question.
I tried different tricks, including trying to force "Tiny Dancer", also by Elton John, into the brain. This worked for a while, but eventually became some sort of sick hybrid song of both "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer".
What is that damn song on the radio the last few months, everywhere you go, it's called like "need to know" or "used to know" or something. I really really hate that song. I tried even to think of that one as a substitute, but it didn't work either.
I forget how or what stopped the madness but on the 15th or so of June, I realized my head was basically clear and I no longer heard endless reps of "Rocket Man". So altogether, it had been going on about 2.5 weeks, or almost 20 days before it stopped.
So what's the point? There really isn't one, other than that I'm extremely thankful to have my space back. It's nice to be able to make music again, even if it's not as marketable as someone's like Elton John, or get stuck in your head for several days. Wish I could pinpoint what it was that broke the spell. Maybe when I stopped struggling and just accepted that I would live out my life sharing a room with the Rocket Man. For a while I considered sending Elton John a letter requesting he help me out, with a small percentage of monthly rent. I decided against that - I can't find his address anyway, and I would rather stow the favor for a later time.
Does Elton John owe you some rent money?
I have no idea but this is the best post ever! Thanks for sharing.
Hahaha! Funny indeed!
Hey, don't laugh - it could happen to anyone :).
Ear worms are an unfortunate fact of life. Until last week for me it was "Graceland" by Paul Simon; that one lasted several weeks. Before that it was "Say You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac. Somebody help me.