Autumn Phillips: Clearing my mind
April 15, 2004
If the first step to enlightenment is the clearing of the mind, let this column be a short but effective way to release my demons and send them out into the world.
Let it begin with “Desperado.”
Anyone who has known me well knows my secret torment. For years now, I have had the same song stuck in my head like a burr on a cat tail, like a snake on an ankle, like a barnacle on an abandoned boat, like a tongue on cold metal.
It has become part of me — part of what makes me a prime candidate for electro shock therapy.
The first year was the worst. The song was stuck, but I didn’t know any of the lyrics except that one word “desperado.” And my brain sung it over and over again, swishing it around like mouthwash in my skull cavity.
Finally, out of sick desperation, I started listening to the lyrics when it came on the radio. I learned the first few lines.
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“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? You been out ridin’ fences for so long now.”
And that’s as much of the song as I know. That’s as much of the song as plays through my head daily.
The same is true for any song that threads itself through my mind like twine through a Thanksgiving turkey, pulling at the grizzly flaps of inner monologue dead air. Inevitably, I only know a line or two of the stupid song.
My mind has a hand on the dial, flipping through a lineup of bad Midwestern radio stations.
This week, when Tiffany’s “I think we’re alone now” snagged a barb in my gray matter, I only could remember the chorus, “I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around … the beating of our hearts is the only sound.”
When that memory formed in the late ’80s, my synapses only wrapped around a few lines of Tiffany’s make-out message. As punishment, I’ll have that chorus tucked in my brain folds for the rest of my life.
It would seem that my inner monologue is but a string of catchy songs. Bad songs I must have learned when they were pumped into the grocery store, victimizing my unarmed subconscious in the produce aisle.
These songs slap away deeper thoughts about the purpose of life and the makeup of the universe with Michael Jackson’s denial, “Billie Jean is not my lover. She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one” or Guns N’ Roses philosophical, “Every rose has its thorn.”
It’s never a song that I really like or a song that I want others to know is in my head. Sometimes “Desperado” will leak out of me in a hum or a whistle and everyone in the room glances around in embarrassed horror.
Misery loves company.