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Play it again..and again…and again

I have listened to “Read My Mind” by The Killers 87 times. I have no excuse for this. It’s a good pop song, but 87 times? 87 times?! It’s a four-minutes long, which means I’ve spent almost 6 hours of my life listening to this song. The number is probably even higher because it doesn’t count all the times I listened to that track in my car.

No! Don't look! The horror!

The Last.fm plug-in I have installed in WinAmp and iTunes counts every MP3 I play on my computer and calculates these embarrassing statistics for me. It almost seems like an invasion of privacy putting my actual musical preferences out there, instead of just what I tell people I like. It’s like the difference between all the healthy stuff in your food diary and the Oreos you’re actually stuffing in your mouth and “forgetting” to write down. We tend to judge people by what they do and don’t like. Whenever I have friends or family over for the first time, they go right for my bookcase, trying to glean insight into my personality by what’s on my bookshelves. I don’t know what people will think of the fact that I listened to “Umbrella” by Rihanna 67 times.

Sometimes I just get obsessed with a song and have to play it over and over and over and over and over, making me grateful I live alone and only annoy my cats with the repetition. (I doubt their brains can interpret musical patterns anyway.) In college, my roommate was obsessed with “Magic” by Ben Folds Five and would shut the CD off in embarrassment every time I entered the room. At least that’s a good song. Sometimes I get obsessed with mediocre songs which I know are mediocre, but I can’t take off of repeat.

The first song I remember obsessing over was “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis. This was in 1996 before MP3s or Google, when music was sold on cassette tapes. I would leave a blank tape in my boombox by my bed and when a song I liked came on the radio I’d smack my hand on the record button like I was swatting a fly. Sometimes the DJ would ruin it by talking over the song or the tape would run out halfway through the song, so I’d have to try again for an even better recording. You had to really work to pirate music back then.

If the DJ didn’t say the name of the song, you were pretty much screwed. You couldn’t search for the lyrics. You couldn’t hold your phone up to the radio and have it magically figure out what song was playing like one service lets you do now. Sometimes I’d hear a really pretty song and have no clue what it was called or who sang it. It was at least a month after I heard “Building a Mystery” that I discovered Sarah McLachlan sang it or that the mystery song was called “Building a Mystery.” And now I just Google.

Since then I’ve obsessed over other songs, like “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane which is so gorgeous that I saw the movie The Lake House mostly because they used this song in the trailer. There have been others too, which I can look up in my Last.fm profile now and realize exactly how obsessed I have been with them.

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EG • September 16, 2008 at 9:13 am

Oh no. It’s going to be there all day. I love you, always forever, near and far, close and together…

One day my husband decided he liked that “Umbrella” song, but he had hasty fingers and accidentally downloaded the dance remix, ’cause you know you can’t dance to the original, so they will have us believe. So then he had to download the original ’cause I don’t believe in remixes. So now we have two.


Susan • September 16, 2008 at 10:17 am

I can totally relate to this post!!

That Killers song is a good one, so don’t feel too bad about listening to it on repeat. Same with Keane. I do the SAME exact thing. I sometimes listen to the same song 7 or 8 times in a row. It gets so bad sometimes that I wake up with whatever song I am currently obsessed with in my head.

Most recently, my go-to song has been “Cath” by Death Cab for Cutie. Ever since I got their newest album, “Narrow Stairs” back in June I have been obsessed with it. It’s actually probably the worst I have ever been about a single song. My husband just shakes his head at me.

As a kid, some of my favorite songs that I played on repeat on my little fisher-price record player were “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “Got My Mind Set on You” by George Harrison (that one actually drove my brother crazy) and the song “We Are Siamese” from Lady & the Tramp.

And I TOTALLY remember sitting intently by the radio with my finger ready to slap down the record button as soon as I heard the first few notes to my favorite song of the time, whether that be “The Humpty Dance”, “Straight Up Now Tell Me”, etc. LOL!


superpaige • September 16, 2008 at 10:27 am

And remember when you had to listen to a song over and over and over again to figure out what they were actually saying? Now you can just google the title or even a few words to the song to obsessively figure out the exact words. One I like right now it Apologize, and hooray, it just came on the radio. I also play John Mayer’s Say over and over on Rhapsody, but it doesn’t keep track for me, thank goodness.


Kqteaze • September 16, 2008 at 10:32 am

Hee! That is so funny. I too, remember waiting with the tape recorder to try and get a “good” recording of my favorite song and hoping the DJ wouldn’t talk over it…or wondering what the heck that song just was and who was it by because the DJ didn’t tell you! Frustrating!

My kids so do not get how much more difficult it was to get good music “back in my day.” They look through my old records and laugh about how my music was so Top 40; well, kiddos, we didn’t have internet and we listened to whatever music stations we had available and were force-fed the mainstream. And we liked it! Don’t even get me started on how we walked to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways…..


nolafwug • September 16, 2008 at 10:53 am

Ah, memories! The first song I ever taped off the radio was Michale Jackson’s Thriller. I “pirated” music this way well past the mid-90’s. Sheesh.

I recently drove my family insane by becoming obsessed with the soundtrack to The Last Unicorn. I didn’t torture them by playing it when they were around but there were times when I couldn’t stop myself from singing different bits. “Now that I’m a woman – everything has changed!”


PastaQueen • September 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

@nolafwug – Oh, I just bought The Last Unicorn DVD! It was an impulse by at the endcap at Target.


Alexia • September 16, 2008 at 11:08 am

Yikes, I’m scared to try it — it’s going to tell me I’ve listened to the same Grateful Dead podcast of a great show from ’72 about 60 million billion times. ;-)


Sarah • September 16, 2008 at 11:27 am

I’m loving the new other topic blog posts. There is more to you than just being half your size.

As for the music, I get addicted to whole albums these days. The Fray was on constant repeat for a year until Nicole Atkins put out her album, Neptune City. Now it is Pictures and Sound.

Love that Dido song by the way, for a while was my anthem.


Deanna • September 16, 2008 at 11:47 am

I totally outplay songs all the time, and my taste is all over the place- Dead, Dixie Chicks, Rob Base, LL Cool J, Britney, Charlie Daniels Band, Madonna, Pink, Doors, Blondie. Billy Joel etc,,. I think if someone actually saw my ipod they would never be able to judge or figure out who owned it.


Jena • September 16, 2008 at 12:04 pm

OMG, you listen to James! You are even cooler than I thought your were.


Kristin • September 16, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I just wanted to say that I went and bought your book last night.. I am already on page 100 and I havent been able to touch it today.. that was all lastnight…I was reading your book.. thinking it was about me… wow… But anways.. I will be done with it tonight.. I cant wait to get home so I can.. You are a true inspiration… Only with that my blog and weightloss/lifestyle journey ends with as great as results as yours.. thanks


TOWR • September 16, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Hey, at least you like good music–there is nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to The Killers (except, perhaps, Brandon Flowers’s tragic porno ‘stache), Keane, or Sarah McLachlan. All fabulous! Now, if you were to start listing Hannah Montana or something like that, then I think I would cut off all association with you.


nicole • September 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I have a flash back of 1991 Stevie B songs. I had 3 of his tapes. I even seen him at Disney for grad night. Everybody had big cassett cases in there car to hear the newest music. It was funny when I met my husband in 94 we liked a lot of the same music. He would request a song and I could pull it out of my tape case. He did this with 8 songs before I didn’t have the song. When we compared our cases we had the same tapes for a lot of our music. Now we can hold 400 songs in the palm of our hands. It’s funny cause now our mp3 players don’t have much of the same music. He is still and oldy but goodie and I like the new with the old. Our music taste do change with time. Wow don’t it make you wonder what it will be like in 20 years from now? I for one can’t wait.


Brandi • September 16, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Can’t say I’m a fan of any of those songs but thanks for the link to last.fm. I hadn’t seen that one before. Now maybe I can get some proof to show my husband that I don’t ONLY listen to Bon Jovi.


Alexia • September 16, 2008 at 2:09 pm

(Can I just say I’m feeling out of touch — I don’t recognize much! Maybe I need to expand my horizons.)


Inny • September 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I do exactly the same thing. Sometimes I have a craving for a specific song, just like a craving for a specific food, and if I don’t listen to the song I go nuts. When I listen to music I play the same song at least 20 times, and then I can hear it playing in my head at least 20 more times. Music is just one of my countless addictions.


fd • September 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm

first song i recorded like that from the radio was michael jackson feat. slash, ‘give into me’ and the second was a TERRIBLE song by a little french fella Jordy (he was literally about four-yrs old). the song was called ‘alison’ and after that was some bon jovi or aerosmith. i think i still have that tape somewhere. don’t think i have a tape player though. http://www.musicovery.com always picks ‘umbrella’ for me and i really loathe it now. as for playing songs repeatedly and deliberately, I think my minor obsession with psyching myself up to write listening to the soundtrack of the musical Buffy episode probably takes the biscuit in uncool embarrassment stakes. *blush*


Jen • September 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm

First-time commenter:

I came here via Erin in Jersey and also via Kristen Leep, who you met at the blogging Indiana conference.

I’ve been reading awhile. I want to go back and read it all. Also currently reading your book.

Anyway, that killers song is awesome and I think I downloaded not only the original but several versions of it.

I am more concerned about your “Umbrella” count though. :)


Narya • September 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Honey, I actually had 45s, oh yes I did.

My iPod would have weird & embarrassing info as well, because there are some albums (yes, I still think of them that way) that are entities unto themselves–and the artists actually intended it that way, and intended that the songs be played in a particular order, in order to tell a story. (I’m sorry, but “Dark Side of the Moon” should NOT be on shuffle. Nor should “Sgt. Pepper” or “Abbey Road” or “Born to Run” or probably even “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”) I realize this does not fit with the short attention span so popular with Kids These Days, but, in case you haven’t figured it out, I am Old.


Cath • September 16, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I just had a flash back to throwing a big sulk after my dad forbid me to play Michael Dameon’s “Rock On” one more time on a family car trip. I had a little red ghetto and kept rewinding and rewinding the tape. I’m surprised I didn’t get thrown out of the car.


anji • September 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm

I travelled a lot this past year as I was working on finishing up my two degrees… listening to music on the long drives at night, kept me sane. Soon, I began to look forward to the trips because I knew then I had at least four hours where I could sing to my heart’s content without worrying about what the neighbours or martin would think…. I also play the same song over and over and over. In fact, I’ve done this for two days now on my way to my placement. The song? Cat Stevens, “Father and son”… I thought about it today when I sat for 30 minutes on the road waiting for the construction people to let me past and wondered, “Am I obsessive/compulsive? Do others do this?” (Seriously dude, this was just TODAY I was thinking this)… I decided, “No” and that my excuse is, “I’m a musician, I’m trying to figure out the exact lines and to sing it perfectly….” You never know when you’ll be stuck in a karaokee bar someday and need to pull out a tune and don’t want to look ridicuously stupid in front of anyone :P

Seriously though, #4 on your list, easy silence, was this summer’s OCD summer-driving track in my car…. I sang it nearly every day (actually, that whole disk for the most part!) and am now confident, I can go to karaoke and not sound stupid.

That’s my excuse anyways! No easy silences around here!


K • September 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm

My husband gets obsessed with particular albums and plays them again and again. I merely get certain songs stuck in my head and sing them constantly, either to myself or (if nobody else is around) out loud.

Today it’s been the theme tune to “Firefly”. I got the DVDs for my birthday, and am discovering the geeky joys of being able to watch episodes one after another if I want. But now the theme tune is imprinted on my brain. “Take my life, take my land, take me where I cannot stand…”

It’s pretty short. I run out of lyrics quite quickly. At least your Killers track is 4 minutes.


Alexia • September 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm

(OT: Oh, PQ, saw your twitter about Lehman’s the other day and then saw this article, the antithesis of what you were looking for: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=multifractals-explain-wall-street Yikes!)


Jen • September 17, 2008 at 8:28 am

@Jen –

Technically, Erin and Kristen do not know each other. They both know me though. :)


Cherry • September 17, 2008 at 10:19 am

I was just listening to “Read My Mind” in my car like 16 times yesterday. It’s a pretty passionate song. Those get me. The other one is “When I Dream of Michaelangelo” by Counting Crows. I can never listen to it just once.


Quix • September 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

Oh, the memories. I had so many of those tapes where half the song played and it was recorded over, or the tape ended, or the dj talked over it, etc. And the agony of not knowing the name of the new song you just heard on the radio, and having to sing what you remembered to your friends hoping one of them would know it. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it. :)

I thought I was the only one grooving to really bad music that knows it’s bad music but is listening to it anyway. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has guilty pleasure music that they wouldn’t listen to with anyone else around. I mean, there are fine albums like Dark Side of the Moon, and there is bopping one’s head to SexyBack. I know it’s just fluffy pop, but it’s FUN and has a pleasing beat to it.


butterfly • September 17, 2008 at 11:00 am

Ha Ha!

Itunes also keeps track of how many times you’ve listened to a song- embarrasing!

If I like a song, I’ll listen to it over and over until I know it off by heart backwards. I don’t know why I do this, but I’ll add it to my list of compulsions as well. I do the exact same thing with songs I don’t like, which answers the question that many of us ask: ” Why is it that we know all the words to a song we don’t like?”.

It’s amazing how quickly I tense up when someone looks through my playlist. I suddenly find myself rambling with excuses as to why I have such and such song and that “oh, I downloaded that track by accident I thought it was someone else, a friend of mine wanted me to burn a CD for them”. Strange.

To compare it to weight-related issues, I used to have the same insta-mortification when someone would open my refrigerator. ” Oh there’s a bake sale at work, my mom knows I love such and such so she loaded my freezer with it, they were on special so I stocked up etc etc…”.

Why do we feel the need to justify ourselves ?


Laura N • September 17, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Oh, the good old days of cassettes. My first music machine was an 8 track. ! And the 8 track tapes I owned were two: Queen, and Donnie & Marie.

I am so not into current music. I’m so lame that way. I did hear a song today by Linkin Park that is fairly current, I assume, and you’re right–all I had to do was google the few lines I memorized and POP! there was the song I heard & loved and then downloaded from iTunes in 10 seconds & then dragged & dropped to my iPod. Much better than an 8 track.


MB • September 17, 2008 at 8:39 pm

I’m slow to get into all the new technology stuff. I’m still holding out on text messaging. I spend so much time on the computer at home and work that I refuse to type on my cell phone too.

I remember wearing out TWO cassette tapes of Bob Seger’s Live Bullet back in the day. More recently, I played “I’m No Good” and “Tears Dry on Their Own” by Amy Winehouse on my Ipod for a week before I put it back on shuffle.

I’ll have to check out some of your favorites. I tend to listen to classic hits and need to explore some of the newer stuff out there.


Nichole • September 17, 2008 at 9:15 pm

I sometimes cringe looking at how many times I’ve played a song in iTunes. Once a song reaches past 100 listens, I know I’m obsessed. :D


Laci • September 17, 2008 at 9:16 pm

I’m kind of obsessed with “Shut Up And Let Me Go” by the Ting Tings. I can’t stop playing it…and yes, I only heard of it from the iPod commercial…I know, I know.


Amy • September 18, 2008 at 4:56 am

I think this is definitely a case of information overload. Quit looking at the stats and enjoy the music.


Beth • September 20, 2008 at 12:28 am

OK, I admit it. I’ve done the same thing. In fact, my current personal favorite is “What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park, and I’ve listened to it at home 102 times since purchasing it on August 24th … and I’d have to look at work to see how many times I’ve listened to it there … and neither of those counts would include how many times I listened to it in the car last week when I had two 5-hour drives (one going, one returning).

I, unfortunately, didn’t have a tape recorder (just a tape player) when I was younger, so I just sat by the radio and begged the DJ with my thoughts to play the songs I wanted. But if I’d had the recorder, I probably would have recorded the songs that way, too.


Jessica • September 22, 2008 at 1:58 am

Oh PQ the song entry had me LMAO!

Mine was “Everything I Do…I Do it For You” by Bryan Adams from the “Robin Hood: King of Thieves” soundtrack. I literally had an entire 60 min blank tape of just that song, recorded off the radio…cuz this was before I had a CD player with the magic repeat track feature.

I would lay in my room doing homework or what not, listening to that song endlessly…I think the tape eventually broke :(

Now its on one of my magical computer playlists, cuz I’m such a dork, that every song I was ever obsessed with I still love.


Jessica • September 22, 2008 at 2:10 am

@PastaQueen –

Ok back to I’m a dork: I have not one, but two copies of TLU…one on VHS and one on DVD, both from Target, paid full price for em, and have forced my children to watch them more than once.

Ok random question for anyone around 30 and up: Who remembers seeing an Austrailian animated/live action movie called “Dot and the Kangaroo”? I only know one other person who remembers seeing it.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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