Scott (guitars and co-writer of...most everything with me) had a good friend in college who would get hooked on a song and listen to it on repeat for hours, sometimes days or even weeks. Scott said that this song-rotation-obsession was dubbed "Joe-tation" when it lasted for weeks. I am guilty of Joe-tation here. When I get hooked on a song, it's usually because of a great melody, but it can be for any reason: tension, a cool sustained bass note holding on as treble notes run over and ahead of it, a song that moves unexpectedly from minor to major and then back, harmonies, lyrics (usually one great line), when a vocal line unexpedtedly changes to tonal center of a song, crazy good guitar solo, or a great it cracks or swells, or sings beautifully and unpredictably, and becomes responsible for pushing a song into an aural space you didn't know existed. 

I think the common thread to the repeatability of a song for me has to more to with listening to something that offers something unpredictable. I'm not talking about straight up key changes or modulations; not all modulations in songs work and sometimes they are done for the sake of themselves (ick). I'm not talking about rhythmic changes. I'm not talking about pretty singing, or overly skilled playing (although it can help). I'm talking about songs that contain something so good that the day cannot move forward without listening to it at least five times.

I read Nick Hornby's "Songbook" years ago, and among the many parts of that book that stuck with me, were a few paragraphs about this sort of repeatability factor of certain songs. Although I wasn't as into this particular song, "Fly Like A Bird," as he was at the time, I still totally relate to the need to listen to a song almost to the point of exhaustion: "Only history will judge whether Ms. Furtado turns out to be any kind of artist, and though I have my suspicions that she will not change the way we look at the world, I can’t say that I’m very bothered: I will always be grateful to her for creating in me the narcotic need to hear her song again and again."

My list of past song obsession/addictions include far too many songs to write here...but some current and past songs include: Beirut (Santa Fe), Ruin (Cat Power), The Jayhawks (She walks in So Many Ways), U2 (October, Van Diemens Land), AC Newman (On the Table), Dan Wilson and Matt Wilson (Free Life), Wilco (Dawned on Me, Hand Shake Drugs)...and certainly a thousand more. I think this is the reason I cannot fall asleep to music in general, but especially not to good music; my mind is way too active to fall asleep. What songs make your repeatability list?

1 comment