Monthly Archives: March 2012

A strange invitation

This post isn’t about cycling, but it starts with a trip to a bike race.

It’s more about the odd and interesting ways that our brains work, with a bit of obsession thrown in (which of course is always bring things around to bike racing).

While driving to the Mid-Ohio race, I was listening to Studio 360 on PRI. Between stories they played a short music clip — maybe 5 seconds at most. No vocals, just a shimmering keyboard line that caught my attention. I knew that song, and knew it was a cool song, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

I needed to know that song.

The keyboard had a 60’s sound to it. In my head I started going through possibilities, discarding what didn’t seem to fit. Bob Dylan. It sounded like something on a mid-60’s Dylan album. But none of the songs I could think of seemed to fit. How about Van Morrison? I mentally went through every song and album I had listened to.

I got to the race, raced, drove home and still was thinking about the song. It was like a weird combination of Name That Tune and detective work.

I went to Grooveshark and started clicking through Dylan songs. Maybe it wasn’t Dylan after all.

Playing that little clip over in my head, it occurred to me: wait … maybe it was a sample that was incorporated into a song.

The astute music fan (more astute than me) may now have enough clues.

I thought “sample”. Hmm … “Beck”? Yes, I think that’s it. Back to Grooveshark. The song was Beck’s “Jack-Ass”. Which as it turns out samples the keyboard from “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (a Dylan song), but not the Dylan version. The version performed by Them, whose singer was Van Morrison.

Now … I never knew that. I only knew that I had heard this before, and that it sounded like Dylan or Van Morrison. Somehow my brain made those connections from the 5 second snippet of a keyboard line that was sampled from another song.

When I think about all that had to happen for my brain to make the connections — mostly unconscious — and figure this out, I can believe those who say we have a supercomputer between our ears.



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