Dalton Chad Brannan

It happens to everybody. You're just going about living, minding your own business, when a song starts running through your head. It's so subtle initially that when you become aware of it, you may wonder how long it has been playing there inside your head. You may wonder where it came from, especially if it's a song you haven't heard since you can't remember when, and even more so if it's a tune you don't particularly care for. Perhaps you'll hum or sing along with it, either in your mind or out loud. You may become frustrated if the music refuses to stop when you want it to stop, and when it does cease, it often does so with the same subtlety with which it began. You shrug and chalk it up to stress, neurosis or just one of those things.

Just such an incident twenty years ago became legend in our family. My former husband, three children and I had flown from Virginia to Wisconsin to visit relatives the same day that my husband returned from an extended business trip. Three months pregnant, I was exhausted by the trip and decided to lie down for a rest soon after our arrival. Just as I began to unwind, the song "Copa Cabana" began playing through my head. I never liked that song and did my best to shut it off, to no avail. In an attempt to put it to rest, I "sang" the song all the way through in my mind. It seemed I had succeeded, but again my mental quiet was disturbed by Barry Manilow -- Her name was Lola, She was a showgirl -- and the whole thing started over again. The harder I tried to turn it off, the more persistent the tune became, until I was so focused on it -- and annoyed by it -- that although I was bone weary, I couldn't sleep. Family members have teased me about it ever since, even my youngest child, who was "on the way" when it occurred.

Other than that incident, I paid little heed to such experiences until about six months ago. On a quiet Sunday morning in October, I realized that the theme song from "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" was playing inside my head. Pretty unusual, since I hadn't heard it in many years, not since my children were small. I knew all the words, but that wasn't surprising. I retain lyrics in some otherwise unused part of my brain, where they hide until their melodies play, then come dancing out. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? First I hummed it, then sang it to my cats. It's a neighborly day in the beautywood, a neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor. The song tiptoed away after that, and I would have forgotten about it entirely had it not been for the news item I heard on the radio later that day. "Johnny Costa died of leukemia in Pennsylvania on Friday," the announcer said. "Costa's name might not be familiar to you," he added, "but he played the theme song for every episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood."

Wow! Synchronicity! I had long before noticed that messages, psychic information come in the songs we "happen" to hear on the radio, in elevators, on hold on the telephone. But until that moment, I had not realized the spontaneous mental songs could be psychic experiences. I began to pay attention to them, to write down the date and song to see if it connected to anything. I was amazed at the patterns that evolved.

These "song messages" typically occur early in the morning, when I'm not focused on anything specific. Usually a line or two of the lyrics repeats and repeats, and in that I find the significance. For example, on October 17 I realized that the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" was playing through my mind, specifically I'll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams. It's a song I associate with my father and the Christmases he spent away during World War II. I definitely hadn't heard the song anytime recently. That afternoon when I brought in the mail, I was stunned to see a large, red envelope addressed to "Mrs. Roy J. Martin" at my address. "Mrs. Roy J. Martin" is my mother, who had lived in Wisconsin and had passed away six months earlier. To this day I can't explain how her name was matched with my address in Richmond, Virginia. The envelope contained a gift catalog, and as soon as I looked through it I spotted perfect gifts for my brothers. Of course, I ordered them and gave them to my brothers. Both of our parents -- my father's name is there, just behind the "Mrs." -- were home for Christmas.

These song messages come several times each week, and I have told friends and co-workers about them as they happen. That offers another level of documentation when something "connects" with the song message. The message may be deeply personal, as in the case of the Christmas gift catalog, or the type of thing one reads in the newspaper. An example of the latter occurred in early January. I woke with a line from an old novelty song whose title I can't recall repeating in my mind: On a corner, at a bus stop, in _____________, Pennsylvania. Try as I may, I could not recall the name of the Pennsylvania town named in the song. It was frustrating because I sensed that it was important. Then, as I was blow drying my hair, I realized that a line from the song "Old Cape Cod" had begun to play through my head: Reminds you of the town where you were born. Bingo! The town in the first song was Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh reminds me of the town where I was born -- Appleton, Wisconsin -- because former pro football player Rocky Bleier is also from Appleton and played for Pittsburgh. I recognized my association, told my husband and several friends that something was going on involving Rocky Bleier -- and then waited. Four days later my husband spotted a newspaper article reporting that Rocky had filed for bankruptcy, and that he had sold his four Super Bowl rings to reduce a debt to the IRS.

Other people began to tell me about their "head songs." A friend called last week to say she was feeling a strong sense of unease, that something was wrong but she didn't know what, and that the song "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" of all things kept running through her head. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, she began singing into the phone, and I sang the next line, His name is my name, too. "I'll call you back," she said suddenly, and hung up. A few hours later she called again, having uncovered the reason for her uneasiness. Her ex-husband's child support check had bounced. His name is my name, too gave her the clue; she called the bank and saved herself a lot of misery because she would have otherwise written checks against those funds.

Over the course of about two weeks, a co-worker shared with me the songs she was hearing. There was Elton John's "Leavon," especially the reference to Venus, and on another day the fifties hit, "Venus," as well as "Be My Baby" and "Baby I'm-a Want You." The theme certainly seemed to be eroticism and babies, which often come one after the other in "real life." It all came together for her when she visited her mother and spoke excitedly about the impending birth of her brother's first child. "This will be my first nephew," she bubbled. "Not exactly," her mother told her, and then gave her a packet of photos of her other brother's two illegitimate children. This second brother, of whom she does not speak, is the black sheep of the family, currently in prison. He had fathered not one but two beautiful sons with the same woman, then failed to support or even acknowledge them. Her entire body tingled as she looked at their pictures. The songs made sense. They had prepared her. And those two little boys gained an aunt who wants to be a meaningful part of their lives.

The point here is that neither I nor my friends and co-workers are special or unusual or gifted. Everyone gets these song messages -- it's merely a matter of paying attention to them. Instead of getting annoyed, get a pencil. Write down the date, the song, any portion of the song that repeats or seems significant. Make note of the ones that "click," including when and how. You will begin to understand your own unique associations, which are the keys to understanding the messages in the songs. You will also get a feel for your own time range for precognitive messages -- a few hours, a day, a week. Pay attention as well to the other songs that you hear in conjunction with "head songs," because these often reinforce or clarify the messages.

Which brings me back to "Copa Cabana," the song that ruined my rest and left me even more exhausted. There was both a message and a purpose in that, too. When I finally got to bed that night, I was numb with fatigue and fell asleep immediately. Too tired for sex, in spite of my then-husband's overtures. The next day we went to our family's lake home, where lack of privacy makes sexual intimacy impossible. A few days later, my husband broke out with herpes, contracted from a bar girl on his business trip. "Copa Cabana" first tried to tell me what had happened, then persistently kept me from resting and ultimately protected me from herpes.

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