News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

February 1, 2011

MS. TAKES: A worm in your ear, a song in your heart

TERRE HAUTE — Ronn Mott calls it “an ear worm.” He ought to know. He has given me plenty of them in the past and he’s doing it again on the morning drive at WPFR.

According to Ronn, an ear worm is a song you can’t get off your mind. It runs over and over and often out loud to the annoyance of friends and loved ones.

I have been driving my Best Friend to the brink of violence by my latest ear worm. I don’t even know the name of the song, and I don’t know all the words. All I remember is that Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sang and danced to something featuring the words: “We’re a couple of swells. We stop at the best hotels, but we prefer the country far away from the city smells!” I’d be glad to sing that much for you if you’re interested.

Picture how annoying this could get when those are the only words you remember and you croon them again and again — out loud!

The number was performed by Judy and Fred dressed as “gentlemen of the road” and, in my estimation, it was classic. Both have long been favorites of mine, Fred especially. My BF has always taken it poorly that I carry a picture of Fred in my billfold. Maybe that’s why this latest ear worm annoys him especially.

Every Christmas, Ronn and his sometime-cohort, Mickey Burk, play holiday favorites and for weeks I break out in song — “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Actually, I don’t, but the mini-recording in my head plays it over and over. One Christmas I protested and received —  anonymously — a stuffed hippo in the mail. My mental CD was off and running for days after that.

Not long ago someone asked if I remembered Elmo Tanner and his whistling rendition of “Heartaches.” I do. I did, and I got an ear worm lasting for about a week. I was even accosted downtown by an irate reader who announced that he had a bone to pick with me. My column on “Heartaches” gave him an ear worm.

Actually, I seem to remember part of a second chorus of the Judy and Fred number. It began, “We’re a couple of sports, the pride of the tennis courts.” I think it involved a bit about how good they looked in shorts, but I’m not sure.

My BF says, “Look it up on Internet.” I suppose I could, but maybe the ear worm will die a natural death if I don’t.

Liz Ciancone is a retired

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