An old friend posted a link Friday morning on Facebook that I really wish she hadn’t. It’s easily the most irritating earworm I’ve ever heard in my life.

Growing up in the St. Louis area, if you went to see a movie you most likely did it at a Wehrenberg theater. The chain had 131 screens in the metro area, well ahead of any rival in the early to mid-80s. It had a presence in other states, including one theater up in Cedar Rapids, but it dominated St. Louis.

The company was bought out a couple years ago. It’s gone now, part of the Marcus Theatres chain. And the main reason anyone remembers it was from the theme music it played before every single showing.

When it comes to late-60s, early-1970s cheese, only a swimming pool filled with fondue can top the company’s jingle. It’s nonsensical, with a choir scat singing over a bigger horn section than even “The Music Man” envisioned.

Think I’m kidding? It’s on YouTube. Go ahead, have a listen. I’ll wait.

Good luck getting that out of your head, now.

My friend’s post drew an immediate reaction. Pretty much everyone remembered the jingle, instantly, regardless of whether they wanted to. Most of us probably had it stuck for most of the rest of the day.

Despite it’s contagiousness, or perhaps because of it, there was an outcry when the company re-recorded the jingle as a new version in the 90s. The company realized there was a market for it, and actually sold the jingle at its theaters. It was one of the most St. Louis gag gifts ever.

The recording had its uses, though. In college, a guy on my floor was having trouble with the residents one floor below his room. They didn’t seem to care what time it was or who they disturbed, when they wanted to be loud they were.

Revenge came after Hurricane (yes, that really was his nickname) bought a copy of the jingle. He laid his stereo speakers face down on the floor and covered them with his dorm room mattresses and a few blankets. He put in the jingle, turned up the volume and hit repeat before leaving for most of the weekend.

The sound directed straight down, through the floor and into the room below. Hour after hour. He never had a problem again.

Part of me still expects to hear those horns and that choir singing “ba-ba-ba-ba,” (no, I’m not kidding) every time the lights go down in a theater. As obnoxious as it was, that jingle preceded some genuine high points of my childhood, not the least of which was the original Star Wars trilogy.

I don’t really miss getting that thing stuck in my head every time I go to a movie. But it’s remarkable how some of those things from childhood stay with you. That jingle was, objectively, a crime against music. But there’s still something nostalgic about it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find something to listen to. I have an annoying theme running through my head, and I’d like to get it out.

— Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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