OPINION

Singing a new tune? Oh, how I wish

Jeff Fox
Headed for trouble

I have a new hobby, forced upon me by circumstance beyond my power. I am powerless to change course. 

Jeff Fox

It goes like this: 

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in doctors’ offices in recent months and a good deal of time in their waiting rooms. I did not know – totally did not need or want to know – that there is such a thing as Sirius XM Escape.  

I know now. It claims to be “easy listening instrumental arrangements of familiar pop melodies!” Such a statement does not deserve that exclamation point. 

But why wouldn’t Sirius have its own Musak channel, and why wouldn’t places such as doctors’ offices play it? 

Sadly, the two things I have that still work are my ever-attentive ears, so I cannot avoid this stuff. You take a song such as “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and you rearrange it, skip the vocals, water it down, and then rearrange it some more to the edge of recognition. No screaming guitars, plenty of subtle oboes – in other words, elevator music. 

And my wee brain cannot avoid playing the world’s worst version of name that tune. I’m not sure what particular demographic I was supposed to be standing in for the other day, but we seemed really stuck in the early ’70s, when the music was already soft enough to start with. “The Candy Man.” “Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down.” “If You Could Read My Mind.” 

And was that really some tortured version of The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road?” If I guess three of these in a row, can I get out of here? 

The soothing effects of this ordeal clearly were lost on me. 

Then, at last, those blessed words, “The doctor will see you now.” 

I noticed that when he closed the door, the music from the hallway suddenly stopped. I took this as a subtle signal that it was time to get serious. 

I survived the visit, and we went to dinner. More piped-in music – this time from the brutal ’80s rather than the meh ’70s. When “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” came on, someone one table over couldn’t help but softly sing a couple of lines. 

Suddenly Sirius XM Escape didn’t seem quite so bad.  

Maybe I’m not powerless to change. If you see me on the street or in a doctor’s office with buds in my ears jamming to whatever Spotify’s algorithm thinks I want, you’ll know why. My wee brain needs the break. 

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.