Any time I hear Eric Clapton’s Layla, it cues up a certain question in my head. The opening riff of Layla cues up the question and the response, as well as the rest of the musical set list. Perhaps you know what I’m blithering about here. Perhaps this will nudge your memory.
Clapton + Layla riff = Hey man…is that Freedom Rock? Yeah, man. Well, Turn it up!
I bet you knew the dialogue. You probably said those words along with me, like Shrinky does now.
Does something similar happen to you when you hear some other tune from your past, something that came before the digital age, before CD’s and cassettes and 8 Track players? Maybe you heard it on vinyl and that vinyl skipped in a certain spot, like the way ABBA’s I Do I Do I Do did on my LP, and still does in my head any time I hear it. It’s stuck there in a way that reminds me of a Brain Worm, and I don’t mean an actual parasitic creature infesting your grey matter. I’m talking about something that gets jammed in your head, like a recurring song, a phrase, a silly word like Lubbock, or a Michael Jackson hee hee.
When it comes to writing fiction (yes, I knew you were waiting to see how I’d work Brain Worms into my craft), Brain Worms (BWs) can be a writer’s best friend. BWs are interesting character quirks. A BW that infests a mind can say a lot about a person’s demeanor, or day, or general sanity. For instance, if you’ve got a hero who keeps on singing, "Won’t you take me to Funky Town," you might infer that he’s:
Won’t you take me to Funky Town can be a device threaded through the story the same way the BW is threaded through the character’s mind. Brain Worms: It’s a lot like life.
What’s your brain worm? What’s glued to your mind today? Are you mumbling Hey, man, is that Freedom Rock, like I am, or are you humming the Geroge Harrisonesque twangy part of Badfinger’s Day After Day?