It happened while watching CNN during the daytime (which is quite dangerous if you don't want to see dopey advertising).
On the screen: a svelte Tony Orlando, declaring he had lost a zillion pounds through some weight-loss thing and now sporting a 34-inch waist. Likely story.
Unlikely story? Tony's lead vocals on the uber-earworm "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree." That 1973 number out of nowhere topped the U.S. charts for four weeks. It's also No. 37 on Billboard's list of Greatest Songs Of All Time.
Tony-O doesn't get top billing, though, because the song was released by "Dawn, featuring Tony Orlando."
Been three long years since you've last heard it? One listen and it'll stick with you for another three.
That's not hard to believe.
Thirty-four inch waist? Right.
No. 1: "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Tunelessly singing "I'm as freeee as a biiiird now ..." as annoyingly as you can to yourself is one thing.
The serious earworm is when you put into words the signature guitar solo to yourself. It sounds something like this: "deer to deer, deer, deer, deer, deer, deer, diddly, deer, deer, deer." Or something like that.
It's total southern nuthouse territory. But that's Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" for ya. Earworming it this very second. And this bird cannot chay-a-yange! Lord help me, I cannot chay-a-yange!
As for the charts, the 1974 song only peaked at No. 19 on Billboard.
No. 19? Just goes to show that the classics aren't always No. 1. But try to stop humming it. That bird you cannot change.