Jun 082021

Idle prestidigitation for the recent wailing installment of RTH brought to mind a most curious phenomenon, one which left me  bamboozled for the last few years until I solved it a few weeks ago, came to mind.

I’d enter the kitchen without a thought of glam rock in my head and yet, by the time I’d tidied up, I’d be humming a specific T Rex song to myself and wondering where it came from. Again.

Finally, I realised it was the dishwasher. 

One press of the button and the motor comes on for a long, grinding beat, then silence  2,3,4, another blast on the motor, another imaginary count of 2,3,4 and off it goes again. Then it whirrs into action, just like the guitar on the introduction to 20th Century Boy.

In the days when my work office was open, a run of any more than a dozen page on the photocopier set up to replicate the rhythm of Money by Pink Floyd set me off down that rabbit hole

Surely, in such august company, I cannot be the only one to have experienced this? 

Which items of household or office machinery do you have which set off rhythmical earworms? And are they songs which, broadly speaking, you enjoy?


  6 Responses to “Name that Tune (Household and Office Technology Edition)”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    This happens to me all the time. When I was in college, my dorm elevator door made a squeaking sound just like the backwards flute snippet played in the outro to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That one took a while to figure out.

  2. BigSteve

    Captain Beefheart is supposed to have written the song Bat Chain Puller based on the rhythm of the windshield wipers in his Volvo.


    Sometimes when I’m driving in the rain, I try to sync the song to my wipers, but the tempo isn’t quite right.

  3. mockcarr

    There was a bathroom sink in the building where I used to work that would make the exact two tones, timed correctly, with significant enough volume that it was nearly irresistible to not to sing some part of “How Soon Is Now?” in a Morrissey voice. And I don’t particularly like that band or guy at all.

  4. Not really the same topic, but similar. When I would catch a new episode of Game of Thrones or Westworld on HBO, HBO would play this super short music trill to signal that the show was beginning. Not the TV static sound they also use to open shows. (if you get HBO, you probably know what I mean) This was just a short interlude, but it always would trigger me to start singing the middle eight of From Me to You by The Beatles. It sounds so close to me like the “I’ve got arms that long to hold you” melody.

  5. Chickenfrank’s related story reminds me of one of my own. The reminder sound for events I have on my phone’s calendar is almost exactly like the first 3 notes of Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.”

    Also related, on my walk this morning I was listening to Fripp and Eno’s No Pussyfooting. You know how you sometimes hear new details in a piece of music that you never noticed the previous 999 times? I heard some cool new times that I’d never heard before. Then a fire engine rushed by.

  6. Happiness Stan

    Hey Frank, that’s exactly the kind of thing. It would be so cool if the estate of George Harrison could find a jingle, or even a a brand of coffee maker which ripped off the riff on Taxman and recoup the royalties for My Sweet Lord.

    There’s an ice cream van which goes by almost every day playing Green Sleeves, supposedly written by Henry VIII in a rare break from marrying, divorcing, executing and bickering with the Pope, so presumably out of copyright by now. I’d never noticed until about three months ago what a debt Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam owes to our most colourful monarch and can never resist channeling Bowie’s version of the song for a good ten minutes after it drives past.

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