Get This Song Out Of My Head

Published 3:39 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does the song that happens to be on the radio when your alarm clock goes off in the morning stay in your head all day?

My head is ringing with “Wooly Bully,” by Sam The Sham And The Pharoahs.

And I wish it would get a busy signal.

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The alarm went off today at 5:30 a.m., 30 minutes later than usual, and I went from restful sleep to a jarring beat and Sam The Sham singing that Matty was telling Hatty about a thing she saw with two big horns and a wooly jaw.

I'm all for friends exchanging such information but not in the dark of my bedroom at 5:30 in the morning.

Something by Debussy would have been better.

Lend me a tenor.

Play me a nocturne.

Anything to let me sleep five more minutes.

Making matters worse, my wife is out of town at a conference in Philadelphia and I was sleeping on my side of the bed. The alarm clock is on her side and she usually turns it off pretty quickly, especially if the wake-up song is not suitable for framing.

Our pug was keeping me company and something by Three Dog Night would have been perfect but Pugsley was sleeping on my wife's side of the bed, which meant I couldn't just roll over and turn off the alarm.

By the time I had gotten out of bed, turned on the light and focused on the “off” switch, “Wooly Bully” had burrowed itself deeply into my brain.

I don't have a lot of brain at 5:30 in the morning and what I did have was rapidly filled up and taken over by Matty and Hatty and the latter's admonishments not to be “L-seven, come and learn to dance.”

What that had to do with the Wooly Bully buffalo I still can't figure out but I have been going around all day singing “Wooly Bully” under my breath, and frighteningly out loud on occasion, startling my colleagues here at The Herald.

I should be writing a serious in-depth piece analyzing and ultimately revealing the effect of gravity on fluorescent lighting in public buildings but I am compelled to think, talk, and write about nothing but that first morning song in my head-“Wooly Bully,” a song whose lyrics are so strange that it was banned by some radio stations when it came out in 1965.

“Get you someone to pull the wool with you,” Sam The Sham sings, to the staccato 15 bar blues structure, an abbreviation, according to Wikepedia, of the 16 bar blues format “where the move to the sub-dominant IV comes after only seven bars of the tonic I, instead of the expected eight bars.”

I certainly wasn't expecting seven bars of anything-even chocolate or double-pressed latinum-but I sure needed a tonic after being jarred awake by “Wooly Bully.”

Three tea bags in a single cup did the trick.

The song is not without a track record of success. A Grammy nominee, “Wooly Bully” was the first release by an American band during the famous British Invasion to sell a million copies and only the Beach Boys and The Supremes kept it rising from number two in the Hot 100 to the top of the charts.

But that doesn't mean I want it as reveille.

My wife and I have a usually foolproof plan for dealing with songs shoved into our brains by the alarm clock. A quick verse of “Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don't Care” will generally get anything out of your head, but it does have this one crucial drawback-it replaces whatever you had in your head with “Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don't Care.”

“Wooly Bully” defied “Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don't Care” as if it were nothing more than “I've Been Working On The Railroad” or “The Eensy Weensy Spider.”

So I write these words in a last desperate attempt to get the song out of my head.

And into yours, instead.

Still, it wasn't as bad as yesterday morning when the alarm woke me to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga dueting on “The Lady Is A Tramp.”

I went around singing that all day, too, and got some rather nasty looks in the grocery store.

The bruise from the egg plant that caught me behind the ear still hurts.