A Stylus Stuck In The Cerebral Cortex; Or, Being The Amour Fou Of The Spectrum Set PART I

Whenever I listen to music, I run the risk of engaging in a very painful, very frustrating, and very emotionally hellish battle. I am unable to simply listen to music. I am often drawn into a songs orbit, and if Im lucky, I can escape the tractor-beam hold it has on me.

Sometimes, though, I dont want to do that.

Sometimes, I let the song win. But I let it win with great hesitance, as I know that its hold on my soul might engulf me for longer than is necessary.

Let me clarify a point: when I saylonger than is necessary,were not talking about one repeated listen, or two, or five, or ten. Were talking hours. Were talking immense, intense listening, with me hitting PLAY automatically for an indefinite, undetermined period of time, until something inside me has had enough.

To fully comprehend the seriousness of that last paragraph, lets take a look at several examples from the past few months:


Voices Carry,by Til Tuesday. 23 listens.

Thats nearly three hours with Aimee Mann, and thats nearly three hours within the confines of an emotionally abusive relationship. Yikes!


Cinnamon Eyes,Riverside. 31 listens.

Chances are pretty good that youve never heard of Riverside. Chances are pretty good that youre going to love this song. But are you going to love it enough to listen to it thirty-one times in a row? PS. Good luck avoiding the charm of the bongos.


Sloop John B.The Beach Boys. 38 listens.

Theyre one of my favorite bands. In this case, its not just the song, its this video that was the subject of a viewing session nearly two hours long. I do have to admit, it looks like theyre having a really great day, and perhaps thats what Im drawn to. Or maybe not. Whatever.


Ripples,Genesis. 15 times.

Okay, maybe that number doesnt seem too obsessive, until, of course, you realize that this is an epic eight minute song. You can do the math. And I adore this song. Its like the best Polyphonic Spree song youve never heard. Its also — in my humble opinion — Genesisbest song, bar none.


Dear Mr. Christian,Derek Minor. 55 times.

Unlike the majority of songs that capture my attention, I can tell you exactly why this song garnered so many plays. Its the first Christian song that Ive heard that condemns Christianity for very valid reasons — if I didnt know Minor was a Christian artist, this could be construed as very anti-Christian. Furthermore, its very graphic in its imagery.Its a very, very powerful number, and when I heard it, I had to hear it againand againand againto totally absorb the message. Next thing I knewfifty-five listens. That particular time, it flew by very quickly.

(PS. That last verse. Damn.)


* * * * * *


This condition of mine is known as stimming. It is a common condition of people who are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, of which I am. Ive always been this way, but it wasnt until recently that I began to understand why it is that I do these things.

As a writer about music, this problem can become painfully inconvenient, especially when Im trying to write about something else, if Im trying to meet a deadline, or just trying to do anything but listen to the same song over and over and over and over.

My therapist suggested I write about the songs that do this to me, as doing so will demystify them, and in so doing, will break the songs powerful spell. Ive done so since being given that advice, and Ill be honest — its worked, and in reading some of the descriptions, I felt compelled to start sharing them. I do so not only for my own understanding, but to share them with the world, with the hopes that others who have this debilitating condition can come to understand and deal with this problem as well.

I invite you along on my journey.


PS: You have no idea how hard it was to share those videos above without listening to them!


About Joseph Kyle

Somewhere in Texas. Loves life, love, and Mike Love. Needs a date to the prom. Tries not to write in cliches. Owner of therecoup.com and semi-professional talker to people. View all posts by Joseph Kyle

Comments are disabled.

%d bloggers like this: