Selecting tunes that orchestrate interrogation

You may have figured out by now that I am easily amused. Not just some of the time, but all of the time. This week my fancy got tickled by a story on MSN about music the CIA has allegedly used to aid in the interrogation of suspects.

Some of what was reported was far out enough to be true, based upon my own life experiences that affirmed the truths touted. I may have on occasion used the volume button on my car radio as a behavioral modification tool with my children. Maybe I can attest that when played at a deafening level, certain old country songs have the effect of encouraging confession in matters as globally insignificant as “Who stole the gum from Mom’s purse?”

Unfortunately, waterboarding is frowned upon by the old guard parenting experts. But thanks to modern technology, my hands need not even stray from the steering wheel in telltale intention in the direction of the radio knob. I can safely leave them at 10:00 and 2:00, while discreetly using a thumb knuckle to pump up the volume. Being deaf in my right ear, I need only slip my left hand over my good ear to avert the personal consequence of my tune tune-up.

Of course, that’s if I weren’t such a hands-off, nurturing mother whose children weren’t well aware the next confessional tool closely resembled a long-handled snow scraper, followed by possible ejection from the vehicle some distance from home, in a swampy, mosquito-riddled region. After all, the experts endorse progressive discipline, don’t they?

The reason the music/volume combination proves effective is most people can withstand physical pain alone, such as that associated with a thorough snow brush beating or other bodily injury. Whether it’s the blister that forms on your right heel halfway through a day at Cedar Point (where you are Band-aidless) or the chronic Plantar Fasciitis in your left foot (about which you can do nothing), it’s possible to put up with unavoidable pain.

Not so with musical psychological torture. Fortunately, an out is available. At any time, the recipient can gain relief through simple confession. In fact, when the old country music threatening to be played involves early Dolly Parton or the late Slim Whitman, pre-emptive confessions are often forthcoming. I’ve observed my kids cop to crimes that haven’t yet been committed. Withstand a yodeling Slim Whitman? Fat chance!

Is it torture, though, that word government officials seem to frown upon? Let’s just call it “persuasion” of the Jane Austen novel variety. For in the end, there is a sense the characters involved may have suffered more than the cause was worth.

To paraphrase Justine Sharrock, the investigative reporter cited by MSN regarding tortuous music, government henchmen discovered the real “persuasion” that prompted political prisoner confession stemmed not from song selection, but the loud, maddening repetition of a song. However, note some songs proved more truth tellingly toxic than others

Which songs? The Meow Mix jingle (meow, meow, meow, meow); the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack; Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” Britney Spears’ “Baby, One More Time,” Christina Aguilera’s “DIRRTY,” Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop” and “Californication,” Tupak Shakur’s album “All Eyes on Me,” Sesame Street songs in general, and surprisingly, Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions.”

News of the WorldMeow mix jingle? I can see that. But Queen? I can do Queen for a day. Maybe several. Mostly, when I think about the music that could put me over the edge, it’s not specific songs, but situational stuff that makes the music worse.

My greatest interrogation hits would involve forced listening to beginning band students, drunken karaoke vocals, Americans failures at pronouncing foreign lyrics, un-tuned piano with un-tuned guitar duets, overly dramatic middle school student vocals about non-yet-reached adult life experiences, a Capella national anthem singers who start out too high and try to change keys twice to unsuccessfully hit the high notes, groups of embarrassed restaurant servers singing happy birthday to equally embarrassed patrons, and the off-key spinster soprano from childhood who sat screeching behind me in church. Real life, raw, inescapable torture at its finest.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: