One thing I’m really good at is naming that tune.
For example, when I was in college, a friend of mine told me there was a song in his head and he didn’t know what it was. I told him to sing it for me and he refused, for some reason. But later in the evening, I caught him humming, “Check it out now…” And I said, "The Funk Soul Brother..." And he stared at me, and I said, "Rockafeller Skank. Fatboy Slim." And he was SO HAPPY.
Another time, I was in a restaurant with a large group of friends, and there was a song playing on the radio. Two frowning waiters came over to our table and said, “Hey, do any of you have any idea what this song is?”
A bunch of my friends started hypothesizing (incorrectly) what song it was, and I spoke up very loudly: “It’s All For You by Sister Hazel. I’m 100% sure!”
One of the waiters looked at me and said, “YES! That’s it! You’re getting a free dessert.”
And I got a free dessert.
This ability somehow served me well in medical school too. I was in a surgery once with an OB/GYN, and he kept humming, “Just listen to the rhythm of the heart…” Finally, he looked up at me, and said, “Do you know what song that is?”
“It’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness,” I said.
And he had a scrub nurse write it down for him. I was the hero of the OR!
On a neurology rotation, I was working with an attending who kept randomly singing, “Pardon me while I burst into flames...”
I smiled at him because I thought his singing was amusing. He asked me, “Do you know that song?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Who sings it?”
“No, it can’t be. Incubus is too loud.”
“I’m 100% sure.”
We finally had to go back to his office to settle this argument, and he loaded up something called Launch Music. He played the video for the Incubus song Drive and then finally agreed with me that it was the same group. I had never seen the video for Drive before and it was basically the band singing topless. “I guess they don't believe in shirts,” the attending said.
We ended up spending the next half hour watching videos and the attending lent me an acoustic Sublime CD.