Aurally transmitted diseases

If you enjoy zombie movies, there's a tight, original take on the genre from 2008 titled Pontypool set almost entirely in a radio station studio.

The new twist it provides on the theme (SPOILERS FOLLOW) is the zombie virus is transmitted through sound via the English language and you infect new people through repeating key words.

It's an eerie movie and as I watched it, it struck me how easy it is to infect other people aurally with the garbage floating around in one's head.

Let's not even consider political or religious views - how many times have you been sitting in your kitchen and you'll hear somebody walking by outside, whistling a tune or singing to themselves and an hour later, you're right there with them, humming the very same song?

Sometimes you can't even remember where you caught the music from and you have to sit down, work backwards and recall such and such a melody was playing in an elevator or café an hour earlier and that's where you got sick.

My neighbour told me about a friend of his who was famous amongst his mates for having Aerosmith's song Dude (Looks Like a Lady) in his head for five straight years.

"It was a running joke with our group. You didn't think it was possible, but then he'd come back from the bar or be getting out of his car and he'd be humming it to himself," said my neighbour.

"It was just always there, it was his background music. Dude, dude, dude, dude looks like a lady!

I'd love to know where that infection originated from.


We've all had this problem to one degree or another - an unwanted song knocking around our skulls, tying up neurons that could otherwise be put to good use remembering our boss's wife's name.

For some reason, it's always the most inexplicable tune that lodges itself deep into your grey matter and wriggles to life when you go out for a jog or have to write an important email to a client.

All I have to do is think about the Doris Day song Teacher's Pet and it's on a loop in my head for hours.

Teacher's pet, I wanna be teacher's pet.
I wanna be huddled and cuddled as close to you as I can get!

What I've now learned, thanks to Pontypool and rueful experience, is you can transmit really crap songs to others as a form of aural punishment, if you're cruel and cunning enough.

My neighbour did this to me recently with what has to be the lamest of Cold Chisel's efforts, 1979's Shipping Steel. Once it was in there, he followed up with text messages of lyrics, because this seems to cement the tune in your mind.

Shipping steel, shipping steel.
Nobody knows, the way it feels
Caught between Heaven and the Highway
Shipping steel, shipping steel.

I countered with Flash and The Pan's Hey St Peter because only another 1970s Australian rock song could make up for an ode to driving a truck.

The morning was cold and lonely
City lights old and grey
The sun arose trying to smile
Gave it all away
The honky-tonk called a stranger
The stranger couldn't pay the bill
Made a stand, raised his hand
Sang a song, no time to kill.

He got me back with Chris de Burgh's Don't Pay The Ferryman.

It's getting ugly.

Anyway, there you have it, a fun game for the whole family, as Seinfeld showed back in 1991 with the episode where George transmits Les Miserables' Master of the House to Elaine's dad.

Feel free to share the song you fear getting stuck in your head.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.