Instead, tonight I find myself thinking about songs you surprise yourself by knowing the words to. I don't mean songs that you consciously listen to, love, that are part of your conscious musical universe. Or indeed songs that you hate with the heat of a thousand suns, but get so much radio play you can't avoid knowing them. I mean the ones that only emerge astonishingly word perfect when you accidentally hear them, as if they have been living perfectly preserved in a time capsule somewhere in the recesses of your brain. Does this happen to you? I keep getting it, and I think it's another thing that there should be a word for. Germans? Can you see to it please?
My recent ones:
You Go To My Head, Frank Sinatra
I heard this one in the Eurostar terminal at Bruxelles Midi just before Christmas and couldn't stop myself from mouthing along with it. A good twenty year gap, I reckon, since I last heard it.
You go to my head,
With a smile that makes my temperature rise
Like a summer with a thousand Julys,
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes..
It instantly made me think of my dad, because this is my him, driving around the Dales. I am, depending on my age, either staring out of the window pretending to be riding a horse across the fields, staring out of the window trying not to be carsick, or staring out of the window wondering if startlingly blue-eyed sixth form thespian Ian Chisholm will ever notice me (he won't). We are off on some horrendous walk, of course, a four hour forced march across some far flung bog with only a packet of Rolos to keep me going. The Rolos will be in my father's rucksack. My father will be a very long way ahead of me, barely visible through the gloom. As I approach, he will take the Rolos out and waggle them enticingly, then stride off again. Bastard. My dad likes a bit of Frank. Our other car artistes are, variously, The Beatles, Crystal Gayle (I suspect, but have not been able to test this theory, that I know a great deal of Crystal Gayle deep down in my lizard brain), Nat King Cole and Kris Kirstofferson. Mozart - Clarinet Flute, and Flute and Harp concertos only - occasionally gets a look in. (By contrast, Prog Rock's car artistes, were: Bob Marley, Dylan, Tom Waits, Little Feat, JJ Cale and The Blues Band. I know, not Prog Rock at all, it's a total misnomer, but it suits him.)
Ask, The Smiths
A few months ago, clicking on some internet link, sitting on the floor in my dad's spare bedroom.
Spending warm summer days indoors
Writing frightening verse
To a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg
I just stopped listening to The Smiths entirely at some point, I think when I left for France at 18. Big mistake, since all they had to offer me in return was, what? At that time, Alain Souchon, Francis Cabrel, Mylène Farmer. (Actually, that's still pretty much all they have, sorry France. Yeah, yeah, Phoenix, BB Brunes, I know. But still). Anyway, hearing that opening guitar intro took me right back to my attic bedroom in St John Street in York, and I wept (I didn't really) my contrition to Johnny Marr and Morrissey for abandoning them for ponderous French singer-songwriters.
Actually, the last of these weirdly memorised songs is precisely the kind of decadent nonsense I took up when I abandoned Johnny Marr:
L'Eau à la Bouche, Serge Gainsbourg
Je te veux confiante je te sens captive,
Je te veux docile, je te sens craintive,
Je t'en prie ne sois pas farouche
Quand me vient l'eau à la bouche.
I heard this in H&M today. They had a very peculiar selection on indeed, but this one - and vast swathes of Gainsbourg - are fixed in my head forever, it seems. I mean, I knew about some of them. I have L'Anamour on my ipod, and I know all the words to Le Poinçonneur des Lilas simply because it's ace. But this one arose, ghostly, straight out of a tape made for me by one of the CFO's friends on the day I left Normandy to go back to the UK and start university after, I dunno, 9 months or something. I remember they stayed up all night with me, because my flight, or train was at some stupid hour of the morning. I remember she was pregnant, the first person I had ever known as a friend, who was having a baby. That baby is 16 now, brrrr, the tape is long, long lost as is the Renault Clio I used to listen to it in, but it's all in here.
Ok, your turn. Songs mysteriously lodged in your brain for all eternity, and/or songs played repeatedly on car trips by your parents. Excuse me, I have to urgently go and download 'Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night' now.