Possibly the most annoying song in the world.

Hey Jack Kerouac is a song by 10,000 Maniacs, sung by Natalie Merchant, on the CD In My Tribe. Obviously about the beat poet/writer Jack Kerouac, it has an irritatingly lilting melody and obscenely happy accompaniment. I know this, oh, I know this well.

My boyfriend definitely has a thing for folky chick bands... in fact, any chick bands, or any musical groups with strong women in them. Or any strong women. He drools over Sinead O'Connor, The Cranberries, Holly McNarland, Sarah McLachlan, even Alanis Morisette and K's Choice. So, of course, when he stumbled upon Natalie Merchant, he became temporarily obsessed.

This... affinity... for female lead singers and folkiness was compounded in the case of Hey Jack Kerouac with his uber-West-Coast-love. So he sent me the song (of course merely for previewing purposes; I am no pirate!) and sat with me on the phone, listening eagerly for my response to the music.

The first time I listened to it, I had to actually turn it off.

The happiness, it hurts my brain...

First, Natalie Merchant slurred almost all of her words together as if she was drunk. The only line I can make out is the first one:

Hey Jack Kerouac, I think of your mother.

Yes, more lyrics come to you after repeated listenations. However, this song is one of the most irritatingly cheerful songs, solely because one can truly see no reason for it to be cheerful. If Natalie Merchant were singing about rainbows and lollypops and pink cotton candy, I could understand the happyfulness. However, if you look up the lyrics (because you won't be able to glean them from the song), you will see as I have seen -- they are not remotely cheery lyrics. They're downright mundane.

You also have to remember that my boyfriend is a peaceloving hippie-dippy doo da from Eugene, Oregon; I am a morbid libertarian from a Pittsburgh suburb. Whilst he bounces around happily in a tie-dyed T-Shirt listening to K's Choice, I glower at people who give me weird looks for my Nine Inch Nails shirt. Maybe you won't loathe the song as much as I, and maybe you will.

But, hey, give it a listen or two regardless. It grew on me (mostly because my boyfriend likes it, and because once it gets in your head IT WILL NEVER GET OUT) to the point where I can almost hear it without cringing.