Jun 212012

The other day, I was driving to work and listening to one of my favorite recent albums, Mazes, by Moon Duo. Every time I get to this song, I get distracted:

Each time “Scars” come on I wait for the next two notes of this song:

This phenomenon of “Proactive Interference” happens to me a lot—my listening to the later song is impacted by my recollections of the earlier song.

I’m guessing that this happens to you, too. I’m also suspecting that this tendency contributes to some listeners not really wanting to seek out a lot of new music. (“It just reminds me of the older stuff.”) Or for you musicians out there, have you ever found that you have a difficult time learning to play a new song because you are recalling an older, similar song (“Proactive Inhibition”)? Do you have other songs that you can share with us that demonstrate these cognitive processes and drive you to distraction?


  6 Responses to “Wires Crossed”

  1. Frequently this phenomenon helps me like a newer song, provided the song is not a blatant ripoff of something earlier that ruins the original with bad lyrics or something like that. I usually feel like I’m in on the reference, like I’m high-fiving the artist. In the case of the Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It” and Captain Beefheart’s “Kandy Korn” I find the similarities so strong that I once falsely accused (unbeknownst to the musician) a member of the Buzzcocks of stealing my copy of Beefheart’s Music in Sea Minor. (I’d simply misplace the album, but on my long life’s To Do list I still need to see if I can “confront” said musician and allow him to sock me in the gut.)

    There is that song from the new Saint Etienne album that starts off so similarly to Bread’s “I Want to Make it With You” that my initial thrill of having made the connection is replaced by the reality of having to think about a Bread song I could have done with never having thought of again.

    In terms of learning songs, these instances of notes or chords reminding me of an earlier song are helpful. I can more easily fall into the new song’s groove. A good portion of the songs I write start out as me trying to play along to a record and then getting frustrated by my inability to figure out the third or fourth chord, at which point I take what I’ve learned and write my own song.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    Very helpful info, Mod.

  3. I love this game. Here’s one that I think I’ve noticed before, but it came to me recently after seeing the second guy resurrect his greatest hit album.



  4. I also like witty quotes. On a Nixon’s Head single they swipe a particularly odd guitar solo from “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy”. This was obvious, willful thievery, not just Mr. Mod making the most of his self proclaimed limitations. I loved it.

  5. High five, geo. I’m always glad you enjoyed that as much as we enjoyed making the direct quote.

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    They also sound like The Guess Who’s “No Time.” At least that’s what I was singing.

    In a complete aside for all you font junkies out there, Mr. Royale and I were disgusted to see that the font, Mistral, was used on the front of that Guess Who album. Who knew it went back so far?

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