Earworms & Cheeses

How can I govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese? -Charles De Gaulle


Back in the early days of my relationship with Tahlia, she taught me an important lesson about deceptive words in the English language. One day—the previous context of which I do not remember—she announced that she had an earworm. I whirled my head around to stare at her. And a look of horror washed over my countenance.

“An earworm is when you get a song stuck in your head,” she laughed. “It’s not an actual worm!”

I laughed, too. But it sure sounded NASTY.

I don’t know how I’d managed to get through more than three decades of life without ever having previously encountered this word, especially since I regularly experience earworms, myself. One of the most irritating varieties of earworm, in fact, is church songs from my childhood. Whenever Tahlia and I watch a movie featuring church music, she suffers in amusement as I sing along. I usually remember all of the words. Some of the songs I like, but others remain unwelcome visitors in my head, and I’ve gotten creative over the years about how to get rid of them. One of my favorite tactics is to replace a bad earworm with a good earworm; which is to say, disco. Yes, you read that right. Disco! I LOVE disco. It makes me happy! The bass lines are awesome! And the devil’s music is the perfect antidote to…the other.

For other, particularly offensive church earworms, I’ve resorted to another strategy: instead of replacing the song, I replace the lyrics. This can be a pretty comical undertaking, though you have to be a person having a certain, er, openmindedness toward religion. By which I mean, it really helps to embrace your inner blasphemer. Because blasphemy is often really damn funny.

One of my favorite blasphemous lyrical replacements is of a song that I once sang as a young soloist. In our church, the Sunday morning service featured “Special Music” every week: my mom might play a piano piece, or my bass-singing dad might perform a solo. Or there might be a Ladies’ Trio, featuring the warbled harmonies of the choir’s three best female voices. As a seven-year-old with perfect pitch, in a family of musicians and singers, the church people wanted to hear what I could do. So one time, my mom chose a song for me called “Oh, How I Love Jesus.” I sang the song, in my kid-soprano, and all the old folks clapped and smiled. I was a star.

Flash forward to my adulthood. I had not darkened the door of a church in decades, unless you count the church services that my parents led with another couple at local retirement communities. Those I did attend whenever I visited my mom and dad, texting Tahlia live-commentary (e.g., “Oh, FFS! The sermon’s on Romans 1!!”) and trying to conceal my eyerolls. And once in a while, “Oh, How I Love Jesus” would be one of the day’s songs. For whatever reason—most likely because the melody is cloying and repetitive—this song would get stuck in my head worse than any other. So…I had to take drastic measures: lyrics-replacement was necessary. I hereby present you with the results:

“Oh, how I love cheeses! Oh, how I love cheeses! Oh, how I love cheeses,

because cheese first loved me!”

You see how I did that? It took a long rambling story, but ultimately this blog did turn out to be about food. It’s an homage to cheese(s), and a memory of a Jesus experience. Pretty fun, right? Bet you wish you had a church earworm now….