For probably the last 25 years a fragment of music and a snatch of lyrics have been haunting the back of my brain.
It’s an energetic piece. The vocalist sings words along the lines of You can roo-ooo-ooo-oam in your own way with a four note descending scale on “roam”. Then there’s a rather 80s style guitar riff, and the lyrics repeat – You can roo-ooo-ooo-oam in your own way…
Now in those long ago days before YouTube and Google it was actually really hard to identify a song. If you wanted to look anything up you needed to go down to the local library and search through books, and while it was trivial to find information on, let’s say, Emperor Charles V of Spain, there were very few, if any, books cataloguing song lyrics. And if you did manage to find a book of song lyrics, how could you search it for a random snatch of words from the middle of a song? There simply wasn’t a way to do it.
So my only option was to rack my brain, hoping that some random neurons would connect in the right pattern to throw up some more details. And occasionally, over the years, they did. For instance, I was quite certain for a while that the song had to be “Roam” by the B-52s. I mean, the word ‘roam’ is right there! Careful listening to the radio and the eventual coming of digital music meaning the radio no longer had to be relied on however eventually showed that my random neurons were wrong, with the mysterious phrase appearing nowhere in the work – for all that I could hear Kate Pierson belting it out in my head.
With that possibility eliminated my brain went back to brooding and eventually suggested Transvision Vamp, who I had – frankly – completely forgotten even existed. Checking out their their discography led me to Baby, I Don’t Care.
Which was a slightly better fit – the backing vocals in the chorus actually sounded kind of right – but the bit I remembered still wasn’t there!
So I abandoned the quest. I decided that my brain had smashed together elements from the B-52s, Transvision Vamp and lord knows what else to create an entirely fictional fragment of music that never existed in the first place.
Oddly enough I’d been in this situation before with another fragment of music hiding out in the back of my brain. For years I was haunted by a small piece of violin that I was certain came at the start of a song, and spent just as many futile hours trying to figure out where it originated. I eventually concluded that it was a distorted memory of the start of David Bowie’s Sorrow and remained convinced of this until one wonderful morning when I heard it playing over the radio in the bakery opposite Bayswater railway station like some glorious beam of sunshine bursting into the greyness of the day.
I could only make out fragments of it – not enough to identify the song. But I heard enough fragments to know that there was only one band in history who could pull off such a combination of orchestra, synths, electric guitar and overlayed vocal harmonies, and later that day a search through the works of ELO revealed that the song that had been haunting me for decades was Sweet Talkin’ Woman.
So, imagine my shock and delight when on Sunday, doing my weekly grocery shopping in the Morley branch of a major supermarket chain, I heard the snatch of music that had eluded me for so long!
Yes they ri-ii-ii-ise in their own way! Yes they ri-ii-ii-ise in their own way!
It was history repeating! Another musical memory I’d decided was false unexpectedly revealed as genuine in a place of business! I found my way to one of the ceiling speakers and stood beneath it, memorising as much of the lyrics as I could make out over the hustle and bustle of the supermarket.
As soon as I got home I leapt onto the internet and started frantically typing in lyrics. In no time at all I had it pinned down and discovered that the song that had been haunting me for a quarter of a century was…
…by Daryl f’ing Braithwaite.
It’s Rise – the title track from Braithwaite’s 1990 album.
I was, and remain, not happy. And what’s even more embarrassing than being haunted for decades by the lead singer of Sherbet is that on hearing it I instantly remembered about 90% of the lyrics.
I’m honestly starting to suspect that the reason the normal people fry the memory centres of their brains with alcohol is specifically to avoid this sort of thing.