Earworms · Lyrics · Music · Notes from West London

Earworms and “Keep yourself alive”

Earworm. I first came across the word in this Guardian article, over ten years ago. At the time Kylie’s “Can’t get you out of my head” was listed as the #1 earworm, and it might still be top now.

My current earworm is the Queen song “Keep yourself alive” (even more than “Starman”, which I have heard and played dozens of times since David Bowie died last week). It featured in the Queen Christmas Eve Concert from 1975, which played on BBC4 last month. I hadn’t heard it in years. Here’s the official video. It’s only the chorus that’s stuck in my head, not the intro or the verses. “Make it easy on yourself” was my advice for last month. But before that, “Keep yourself alive”.

We lost some friends last year, people we knew from having children of the same age. There was John, father of two children under 11. We had met him and his wife at our ante-natal classes back in 2004. And there was Nicole, mother of two children under 11, a school mum we had become friends with over the last six years, our children in the same school years.

This song is stuck in my head, and I think of Nicole and John, both of them younger than me when they died, and think of Freddie Mercury too, dead at 45, way younger than I am now.

“Well they say your folks are telling you / to be a super star / But I tell you just be satisfied / to stay right where you are … All you people, Keep Yourself Alive”.

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