The Tender Trap

Get this song out of my head! Try as I might, it won’t let me be.

You see a pair of laughing eyes,
and suddenly you’re sighing sighs.
You’re thinkin’ nothing’s wrong
You string along
Boy, then snap
Those eyes, those sighs,
They’re part of the tender trap.

I watched part of The Tender Trap starring Debbie Reynolds and Frank Sinatra on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on Sunday. A romantic comedy/musical from 1955, not earth-shattering, no profound message. Now I can’t get the theme song out of my head.

Neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks would refer to this phenomenon as a “brainworm” or “earworm” (I prefer the former).

Here’s what Dr. Sacks has to say on these “worms”:

Earworms, or brainworms, may start as very meaningful, but they become mechanically repetitive. One is then seeing helpless loop activity in the brain, which resembles seizure activity.

Advertisers are wicked specialists in the production or earworms. So much music is designed to be manipulative—film scores, advertisements, theme songs. I think it’s a perverse use of music. 

Composer Jimmy Van Heusen and lyricist Sammy Cahn, you have a lot to answer for here. Your cute little ditty is driving me nuts! Well, they’re both deceased, so I can’t exactly call them to task on this.

Have any of you been plagued by brainworms? If so, which songs or jingles have wriggled their way into your gray matter?

9 thoughts on “The Tender Trap

  1. With my tinnitus an earworm–if I can’t shake it–eventually becomes audible. My mind selects the tune’s notes out of the tinnitus noise and I actually hear them. One that often occurs–which I’m reluctant to name here because it’s apt to stick– is the melody of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”…oh shoot, here we go….


  2. I am often plagued by brainworms. They tend to be whatever song I have listened to a lot – which is a drag, because I have favorite songs that become Un-favorites after they brainworm themselves. Then i have to quit listening to them for months until they fade away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I know what you mean. For awhile it was the opening theme music to “Deadwood,” one of my all-time favorite shows. Why the Tender Trap won’t go away, I don’t know. Didn’t really like the movie, and the song is not a favorite.


  4. Mares eat oats, Does eat oats and Little Lambs eat ivy. A kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?
    Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we’re on our way…
    Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight. However, I do a dorky dance naked while I sing that song just to see my husband roll his eyes and tell me “Baby, you cannot dance.” I tell him that someday when I am dead, he will remember that song and dance fondly and he says “I doubt it.” but he will.

    Liked by 1 person

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