Music Be the Food of Imprints

Music For Two

Guest blogger and artist Lisa Beth gives her take on the “music gremlin” inside all of us….

In my convoluted brain, there lives a music gremlin. There are minimal times when he is sleeping. During that margin, the non-essential, silly little thoughts that bounce around as background noise in my head are silent. But most of the time he runs amuck like an imp from Dante’s Inferno, spouting out tunes to linger in my frontal lobe due to sound, word, or situation associations. I like to think of these occurrences as ‘imprints’.

I am not entirely sure if he emerged over time – as a gradual birth in my brain – or if he had existed somewhere else at first, and found me as a vulnerable specimen; latching on as a parasite. The part that I am sure of, is that he came to live with me when I was a small child. He grew stronger as my mother would tell me stories about all of the clients she would meet through her work seminars, and how she would compose notecards about the important guests. The notecards were to help her remember characteristics about the representatives for future encounters. She kept the notecards in a little file box in her office. So maybe my gremlin had lived in there first, and was tired of being alone in the little file box and decided to live with me instead.

My mother would explain that by writing down certain traits about people – such as “Mr. Windall rambles on and on like a wind-bag, and he likes to wear Ralph Lauren suits,” would help her to remember his name. That way, the next time she saw him, she could say “Nice to see you again Mr. Windall,” as she shook his hand, instead of hoping that he would re-introduce himself to her because she could not remember his name. I always wondered if she ever got the things she wrote down about people mixed up with their actual names. I think it would be funny to watch Mr. Windall’s face turn red if instead mom said “Nice to see you again Mr. Windbag”.

So I picture my gremlin sleeping in-between all of Mom’s notecards, tucked in with a tiny blanket between “Mrs. Flagg is very patriotic,” and “Mr. Garbo wears bow-ties and has a huge, hairy mole on his cheek”. If he really lived there first, I’m sure he’s happier now upstairs in my cranium. I have a lot more files to jump around and play in.

My problem is that he hardly ever sleeps – even when I’m sleeping! He loves to play music to almost everyone and everything I encounter. If my friend Eileen calls me on the phone, he plays the song “Come on Eileen,” by Dexys Midnight Runners in the background. Or if I call my mom to ask her for help paying my rent this month – and she tells me “No,” then I have The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” stuck on re-play in my head.

Even when I flip through stations on the television, my gremlin is flipping through my song files and picking out a new tune for every scene I see. It is almost as if my thought process has to take in two completely different ideas at the same exact time. If I flip to a news station describing a murder in the city, I may hear David Bowie’s “Panic in Detroit”. Or if I pass a travel channel that describes a road trip from Chicago to L.A., then my gremlin will quickly flip on Depeche Mode’s “Route 66”.

And the same thing happens while I dream! That sneaky little imp plays with the white noise in my sleep as my imagination is busy creating images. I can drift and fly while hearing “Magic Carpet Ride”, or step over a bed of hot coals and hear “Baby I Would Walk Through Fire”. It becomes very annoying to not be able to focus on one thing at a time.

At the same time, I find comfort in knowing that I’ve given the little guy a home. He spends his time doing what he does best. And I guess if he wasn’t around, then maybe my mind would be too quiet. Maybe I wouldn’t remember things as well as I do, since I would not have him to play a song as a reference? Maybe I would forget the names of people I meet, or the places that I have traveled to? And maybe I would be lonely without him?

All in all, I guess we deserve each other; my gremlin and I. He keeps my brain busy as well as reminds me how much I enjoy music. So I guess I don’t mind being stuck with him.

He makes me curious though, wondering if other people have gremlins like him. I wonder if they play music like he does? I wonder if people are aware that I think about such things? I wonder if people have an imprint that comes up when they see my name pop up on their caller I.D. when I dial them?

So let me ask – do you have a gremlin?


Lisa Beth picked up her first SLR camera in the fall of 1989. She attended Eastern Michigan University, graduating in April 2007 with her BFA in Photography. Wanting to expand her field of study, she began experimenting deeper with color and geometric shapes. In 2009, she re-located to Illinois, where the city of Chicago offers her countless canvases to be captured. Lisa Beth is currently working on independent projects, including designing her own line of greeting cards. See more of her work on EIL.

One response to “Music Be the Food of Imprints”

  1. You are getting close to synesthesia 🙂

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