Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Obituary: Slim Whitman

Yodeler and country singer Slim Whitman, 90, has died. I didn't even know he was still alive--I thought he'd died years ago.

I need to pay more attention to this kind of thing.

Anyway, here is the link:

Whitman died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center, his son-in-law Roy Beagle said.

Whitman's tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks -- and an inspiration for countless jokes -- thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.

But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.

"Indian Love Call":

"Rose Marie":

He was definitely unique. His biggest years were in the 1950s, and his songs were played constantly at my house when I was growing up. The songs were and are classic "earworm" tunes.

In case you don't know what "earworm" is:

According to research by James Kellaris, 98% of individuals experience earworms. Women and men experience the phenomenon equally often, but earworms tend to last longer for women and irritate them more.[13] Kellaris produced statistics suggesting that songs with lyrics may account for 73.7% of earworms, whereas instrumental music may cause only 7.7%.[14]

In a 2006 book by Daniel Levitin entitled This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, he states that research has shown musicians and people with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to suffer from earworm attacks. An attack usually involves a small portion of a song equal to or less than the capacity of one's auditory short-term memory. Levitin reports that capacity as usually 15 to 30 seconds. Simple tunes are more likely to get stuck than complex pieces of music. He also mentions that in some situations, OCD medications have been known to minimize the effects.[7] In 2010, published data in the British Journal of Psychology directly addressed the subject, and its results support earlier claims that earworms are usually 15 to 30 seconds in length.[9]

Scientists at Western Washington University found that engaging the working memory in moderately difficult tasks (such as anagrams, Sudoku puzzles, or reading a novel) was an effective way of stopping earworms and of reducing their recurrence.[15][16]

From Wikipedia, of course.

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