Mrs. Dr. Rob was singing the song "Goober Peas" one evening last week. I was fortunate enough to get through childhood unscathed by that song, but her repeated singing of it lodged it in my frontal lobe (I suspect its tendrils were embedded throughout my brain), and I was humming a song I did not know for the rest of the evening.

goober_and_the_peas_band_3bedited

This is a picture of the group, Goober and the Peas. See if you can pick out which one is Goober.

300px-Goober_01 Apparently this song is a Civil War song that was very popular in the Confederacy. I have never seen this sited as a reason the south lost the war, but I suspect this song was running through their head so much that it was better to run in front of a union cannon than continue to have this song running through one's head.

Why does that happen? Why does my mind devote some of its ever-decreasing number of neurons to save this information? Here is what my extensive research (Google) found:

The vast majority of people say they have been mentally tortured at one point in their lives by a song that keeps repeating itself over and over in their heads.

And new research shows that people most frequently plagued by this phenomenon are those with slightly neurotic tendencies , and people who enjoy and listen to music often.

These mental broken records are also more likely to play the first or last song we hear in different situations, such as the first song that comes on in the morning alarm, or the last song playing before we turn off the car, study findings show.

Songs that topped the list as being most likely to stick around in someone's head included the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and the Chili's restaurant jingle about Baby Back Ribs.

But the number one song rated most likely to cause this phenomenon, referred to as an "earworm" in Germany, is "other"--indicating that many different songs can become stuck in our heads.

"Just about anything can get stuck in people's heads," study author Dr. James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati told Reuters Health.

"We each have our personal demonic tunes that get stuck in our heads, I guess," he added.

From Reuters

They don't mention Goober Peas. I find it interesting that it says that those with slightly neurotic tendencies and people who enjoy and listen to music often are the most afflicted. What if you are musical and more than slightly neurotic? I think I am in trouble. I have stupid song flypaper in my brain.

khan WebMD ran an article that also calls these songs "earworms," which reminds me of the movie "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan," where they put a worm in a guys ear to make mind control possible. I think this happened to me at some point when I was not looking.

Here is a list of the top-10 earworms (from WebMD):

  1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
  2. Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle.
  3. "Who Let the Dogs Out"
  4. "We Will Rock You"
  5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle ("Gimme a Break ...")
  6. "Mission Impossible" theme
  7. "YMCA"
  8. "Whoomp, There It Is"
  9. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
  10. "It's a Small World After All"

Still no mention of Goober Peas (or the tenacious March of the Baby Elephants).

I started thinking on this goofy train of thought when I was in a room with a patient who had just moved back into town after being away for a number of years. I remembered all sorts of information about her and her family, surprising her. My mind is very good at remembering little details. For instance, I remember what room I saw every patient in last. I find that when I see a patient on my schedule, I can picture them in the room I last saw them.

homer I want to know why this happens? Why does my brain dedicate its precious scarce resources to remembering things like this, and not remembering where I put my keys? Why do I have to put out an APB every morning, calling on the State Police and National Guard, to find my keys?

If someone can figure this out, I suspect most of the problems in this world would go away. I wonder if Osama Bin Laden has "YMCA" going through his head, which causes him to label the US as the "Great Satan".

I would actually agree with him on that one... if I could only get "Goober Peas" out of my head.

24 Comments