The song tormented me for nearly three decades.
But I found it (or rather it found me) on Sunday, and I cried when I realized the torment had ended.
Oh, I’d forget about the song for years at a time, but it always reared its torturous melody in my brain during random moments in my life.
When did I first hear this elusive earworm?
I was living in Germany. The year was 1990. I was a young Army private watching television in the barracks.
A music video of a catchy song sung by a pop band appeared on the TV screen.
I remember a man singing the verses followed by a woman singing the bridge and chorus.
I remember the woman appeared to me like a less unusual Cyndi Lauper.
I remember a couple of words (“far away”) but the rest floated away like the puffs of a dandelion in a stiff breeze.
It was the melody of the chorus, though, that would burn a spot on my brain forever and refuse to fade.
For years I looked at 1980s hit compilations on cassette and CD for the song, but I had no idea who the band or what the title of the song could possibly be.
In the 21st century, YouTube arrived and I thought I’d found my savior after two decades of torment.
Whenever the song popped into the forefront of my brain, I would search YouTube for all the one-hit wonder playlists from the 1980s. I assumed it had to be a one-hit wonder from the 1980s.
I spent hours and hours listening to those YouTube playlists like a detective on an all-night stakeout listening to the audio of a wired informant during an intense drug deal.
Not even close.
YouTube didn’t save me from my torment, but another 21st-century musical miracle did.
It was a station called “80s on 8” on Sirius XM Radio.
I don’t have Sirius in my vehicle, but my girlfriend has it in hers.
While driving down the road in her car, she turned the radio to “80s on 8,” knowing that’s my favorite music. She doesn’t like it much. She’s more of an Alt Nation kind of girl.
However, on Sunday since I was driving, she let me hear what I wanted to hear.
I applaud her kindness because it can be tough on her since I can’t sing a lick.
So trust me when I say you don’t want to be in a car with me when songs start playing like “Your Love” or “When Doves Cry” or “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “Walking on Sunshine” or “The Promise” or “Tenderness” or “Tainted Love” or “Jessie’s Girl” or “I Ran (So Far Away)” or “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” or “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” or “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” or “Down Under” or “Don’t Stop Believin'” or “Cum On Feel the Noize” or “Come on Eileen” or “All Night Long” or “Africa” or “867-5309” … somebody stop me.
And Lord help whoever’s in the car with me when “Mickey” starts playing.
I lose my ever-loving mind and my voice is compelled to sing the greatest rhyming couplet created since Shakespeare died.
Sing it with me; you know you want to.
“Oh Mickey what a pity you don’t understand.
You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand.”
A moment please while I compose myself.
Okay. I’m ready to continue.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on “Summer of ’69” or “Take on Me.”
I literally come undone.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes, the moment I discovered the one song that had tormented me for nearly three decades.
We’re driving down the road talking when the radio delivers nearly 30 years of sanity back to me in a matter of seconds.
I hear the chorus.
“Distant lands are not so far away.
I don’t know why we don’t go.
Take my hand, I’ll show you the way.
Pack your bags and sail away.”
Tears involuntarily formed in my eyes.
Seriously, unbidden tears.
It was as if the spot in my brain where the memory of that song festered overrode my endocrine system to ensure I paid attention to the special moment. “That’s it, fool, ” my brain was telling me.
My girlfriend didn’t know what the hell was happening.
“That’s it,” I said in the tone of a man who is finally released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit. “What song is that?”
Then my girlfriend did a beautiful thing. She pressed a magical button that revealed the artist and the title of the song.
With tears rimming my eyes, I looked at the radio display and knew that I would have never, ever discovered that song on my own.
Timing is everything in life.
At this point, you probably want to know what the song is.
I’m sorry to inform you that I’ve already forgotten it again.
The song is “Holiday” by an Australian-German band called The Other Ones. Check out the video on YouTube by clicking here.
“Holiday” was The Other Ones only real hit, reaching Number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1987.
The chorus remains one of the catchiest choruses I’ve ever heard.
According to Wikipedia, The Other Ones released two albums and disbanded in 1990 after six years together.
I for one will never forget them again.