Just checking in from the road, where WiFi access has been scarce, but the weather has been great, and I've seen some good friends for the first time in a while, so, as the kids say, it's all good. (The best song of the trip so far: "Joanne" by Michael Nesmith and the First National Band.)
So anyway: Have you ever wondered why songs get stuck in your head--and not just songs, but annoying songs, and often the most annoying little bits of annoying songs? (On this trip, my curse has been the line "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me," from the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha," which I heard on a beer commercial a couple of nights ago.) Daniel Levitin is a neuroscientist whose new book This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession attempts to answer this, and some broader questions, such as: What's music for, anyhow? How and why did human beings develop this form of art and method of communication? And why do the songs we first hear as teenagers stay with us and speak to us throughout our lives, in ways that music we first hear later in life does not? Salon has more; you can read the article by watching a brief ad first.
Also: There's rich bloggy goodness over at Jefitoblog, including another Idiot's Guide, this one detailing the early career of Graham Parker. I mention it because it contains a track that demonstrates why I didn't become a big-deal radio programmer with magic ears. I dug Parker's 1979 album Squeezing Out Sparks, so in 1980, I was absolutely sure that "Stupefaction," the first single from Parker's next album, The Up Escalator, was going to be a smash. I even added it to the playlist at WXXQ in Freeport based largely on my own ears, and less so on airplay data from the radio trade magazines. It stiffed. Didn't even make the Hot 100, I don't think. But it's still a good tune, and you can hear it at Jefitoblog.