Save Me from This Styx Earworm

I never knew there was an actual term for when a certain song gets stuck in your head until I edited a sci-fi mystery story about such a thing. The proper term is earworm, and I’ve got a very bad case of earworm right now. This one is a Styx earworm, a medley of about four to five songs, that I’ve been afflicted with since seeing the band in concert with Ted Nugent about two weeks ago.

I wouldn’t normally go to a Styx, Ted Nugent show—neither have ever been particular favorites of mine—but a writer I know from Billboard magazine was assigned to review the show in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and she was looking for some company during the road trip from New York. It seemed like it could be an interesting experience and it was free, so I signed up. The possibility of seeing Ted Nugent’s crazy in action was too enticing to pass on.

The road trip was fun, and it was amazing to roll into Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which gave all appearances of being a teeny rural town until we stumbled upon the Sands Casino, where the show was to take place. The casino looked out on an old factory that reminded me of the one in the Lorax and tried to use some of this old structure in their building design. It reminded us of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining with its long hallways that inevitably ended in us getting lost.

We got checked into our room and just made the opening of the show, where I watched Ted Nugent go through about three or four guitars onstage. He’s a great performer, and in between songs he would let his crazy rip, which delighted me: “You can’t do this in France!” “Do you hear that? That’s the sound of freedom.” In between bands, I stepped out in the smokers’ courtyard and eavesdropped on conversations about Mitt Romney, UFOs, and guns that I’m not usually privy to.

I made it back in time for the Styx show that was starting up with trippy graphics flashing by on the screen behind the band. I was familiar with nearly all of the songs that they played and was surprised to find that I knew almost all of the lyrics word for word. I was never really a Styx fan. I liked their music all right, but I didn’t idolize them like I did, say, Michael Jackson after he put out the Thriller album. The radio was always on, though, when I was growing up. I can remember living in Germany, and when I woke up and got ready for school, the radio would be dialed to the Department of Defense’s radio station. It would still be playing when I got home from school, and during those years, I passively absorbed the Top Forty hits of the early eighties. So much so that I’ve somehow unintentionally memorized the lyrics to songs that I didn’t even like so much. I’m scared to find out what else I’ve got rolling around in my head from that time period.

After the show and seeing a local band perform elsewhere in the casino, I had no problems getting to sleep and crashed hard. I made it back to New York okay and everything seemed fine until that night when I tried to go to sleep and the lyrics to “Lady” started floating through my head—“You’re my lady…”—over and over again. The Styx earworm had struck. The next several days I was accosted in no particular order by “Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me”; “I’ve got too much time (clap, clap) on my hands”; and of course, “You’re my lady…” My old college roommate used to say that singing the chorus to the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” would cure any earworm, but for the first time ever, that, too, has failed me. I’m going on two weeks with this particular earworm and no relief in sight.

Styx, what have you done to me? I think I’m the victim of some sort of subliminal hypnosis.