Aging may have something to do with it. Song lyrics appear in my head, songs I didn’t remember ever knowing. Now those are there, not always accurate, but they fit the rhyme and scheme of the musicians who created them. Take one song that has been buzzing in my brain for the past two weeks, linked slightly to a checkout woman at our local supermarket, who admitted she’d trained in ballet as a kid.
“Dance Ballerina Dance” was the song. My rusty memory changed the next few words to “Go on with your career, you can’t afford another chance.” That’s not exactly how Carl Sigman wrote the lyrics back about 1946: “So on with your career/ You can’t afford a backward glance.” Close, but no cigar.
This is a puzzle for those who study the brain. How did the song, once encrypted, stay in my memory cells so long? Why were the words almost correct, almost the way the lyricist wrote them about 75 years ago? How did that alphabetical jumble remain intact despite a stroke I suffered three years ago?
If you know or can guess, please don’t tell any songwriters, okay?
There’s another connection with the past. One of the best selling vocalists who recorded the song was the late Nat King Cole. Back in the mid-1950s I worked on the stage crew at Michigan State University for visiting special events. One of those was Cole. I got to stand behind a curtain where I could both see and hear him at the piano. His fascinating sound came, it seemed to me, from deep within him. Even cigarettes, which killed him, were not enough to stifle that sound for me. I can hear him now, deep in my brain.
Written by Jack Grenard