Now that I've complained about non-stop Christmas music, I should probably mention that non-stop music has been a minor issue with me for years and years. The music I'm speaking of is the music in my head.
I'm not talking about the occasional pesky earworm. The music I hear constantly at a low, background level in my brain consists of an ever-changing playlist. All that's been missing is the DJ.
I can't remember when the music started. The first time I ever thought about it, it seemed normal to me, so I must have been hearing it for years by then. Frankly, I enjoyed it, except for a brief period in the mid-'70s. That's when we were in New York, and the company I worked for decided to pipe in elevator music at a background-noise level that couldn't overpower the music my brain was playing. It was as if I were standing between two radios tuned in to different stations, and it drove me nuts. Fortunately, my co-workers didn't like the piped-in music either, and the company didn't keep it long.
With that exception, the music in my brain always receded if I was listening to other music or engaged in really stimulating conversation, but even under those circumstances, I could instantly tune it in if I thought about it. And most of the time, whether I was reading, chatting, working, writing this blog, whatever, the music was always there.
I'd hear other people talk about songs "getting stuck" in their heads, so I thought for years that everybody's brain played music like mine. I was probably in my 40s when I casually mentioned it to a couple of people, and they had no idea what I was talking about. From then on, curious, I'd ask others about it from time to time, trying to find someone else who had the same experience. No one ever admitted it.
Then came the Internet. One of the first things I ever Googled was "music in my head." There were lots of hits, most of which didn't refer to the condition I was exploring, but I did find a few people who described the same phenomenon. So far, I haven't found a name or a reason for it, but my most recent online search turned up some speculation that it might be related to a type of attention deficit disorder. Hmm. That's a possibility, I suppose.
At any rate, I was prompted to write about this because of a couple of things that have happened recently. First, I noticed earlier in the week that there's been a slight change: The music is no longer there all the time, and when it is there, I can stop it if I want. Or not, if I happen to like the song that's playing. I can't imagine why it's changed, but I think I'm going to enjoy the quiet.
And today, driving to work, I had a different experience that's related to music and mental multi-tasking. I was singing along with a CD, one I really like and know all the words to. A question popped into my head and my mind went off on a tangent, exploring possible answers to my question. After a couple of minutes of intense thinking, my attention abruptly snapped back to the music -- which I was still singing, word for word and nearly on the last verse. Strange!
It reminded me of the experience of reading a book, following the words with my eyes, turning the pages at the end of each odd-numbered one, then becoming aware several pages later that I have no recollection whatsoever about what I've just read. Now, surely some of you have done that!