Trolley tangents

Pretty much the only Eddie Vedder song that I really like is a tune called “Hard Sun” on the “Into the Wild” soundtrack. I was listening to it last night while riding on the trolley, and I started to realize that the song sounds a lot like that really famous Blind Melon song… the one with the bumblebee girl in the video. You can actually hum the Blind Melon song over “Hard Sun” and there are various floating vocal and instrumental melodies in the latter that sound somewhat reminiscent of melodies from the former. So I was sitting there wondering if the reason I’ve always liked “Hard Sun” is simply that I’ve always liked that Blind Melon song.

At the same time on this trolley ride, I was occasionally glancing over at this pretty cute Hispanic girl. And I started to notice that she looked a bit like this older Hispanic chick who works at the local Albertson’s. I realized there was an interesting parallel between these two thoughts — “Hard Sun” was reminiscent of the Blind Melon song, and this chick on the trolley was reminiscent of the chick who worked at Albertson’s. And just as these women might theoretically share the same ancestor (of course, we all ultimately share the same ancestor, but I mean a little closer up the family tree) both the Eddie Vedder and Blind Melon songs share musical ancestry, in the sense that all modern pop music fundamentally evolved out of the same gene pool.

So then I started thinking about how we perceive these vague shades of similarities in people and objects and art. I would be curious as to whether listening to similar songs would cause specific neurons to fire in your brain. And whether the same is true when looking at people who appear similar. Do you have specific neurons or synaptic connections responsible for a particular chord change, or a tilted nose? That’s probably oversimplifying things, but the gist is there.

Hey — here’s something interesting: I looked up some information on this “Hard Sun” song and it turns out that Eddie Vedder didn’t even write it — it’s a cover. So I can revert to my former opinion that Eddie Vedder is a talentless moron.

3 Responses to “Trolley tangents”


  1. John Saleeby

    I like that Pearl Jam song “Hooligan’s Holiday” – “Everybody wants a piece of the action, everybody wants a piece of the pie, I gotta get away, I’m on a holiday, Hooligan’s Holiday!!” That song rocks!

  2. CPR

    I think “Society” is a pretty great song, from the same soundtrack. I have zero interest or knowledge of Mr. Vedder’s other stuff.

    As to your bus thoughts, I was reminded of this recent piece by Errol Morris in the NYTimes on anosognosia:

    [V.S. Ramachandran] has used the notion of layered belief — the idea that some part of the brain can believe something and some other part of the brain can believe the opposite (or deny that belief) — to help explain anosognosia. In a 1996 paper…he speculated that the left and right hemispheres react differently when they are confronted with unexpected information. The left brain seeks to maintain continuity of belief, using denial, rationalization, confabulation and other tricks to keep one’s mental model of the world intact; the right brain, the “anomaly detector” or “devil’s advocate,” picks up on inconsistencies and challenges the left brain’s model in turn. When the right brain’s ability to detect anomalies and challenge the left is somehow damaged or lost (e.g., from a stroke), anosognosia results.

    In Ramachandran’s account, then, we are treated to the spectacle of different parts of the brain — perhaps even different selves — arguing with one another.

  3. Wil

    Interesting… I’ve read parts of that Morris piece, but not that section. The whole idea of inter-brain communication is quite fascinating. I’ve been reading lately about how the brain uses chemicals to communicate with itself. Like, your auditory cortex hears a sound and decides that it’s a lion’s roar, so it releases a “fear chemical” into your system which causes your stomach to tighten and brought to catch, which alerts the conscious brain that better make some decisions about how to avoid the lion.

    It makes you wonder whether, when Kurt Cobain blew his head apart, parts of his brain were flying off in different directions thinking different thoughts.