Guest Editorial

About that OR playlist …

For the June issue of OM, I wrote a column about music in the OR ( ). I gave my thoughts about the pros and cons of playing songs during surgery, why I chose to do so, and listed my “ultimate eye surgery playlist.” It was easy. There are thousands of songs to choose from that have something positive to say about our wonderful, vision-capturing eyeballs. In fact, the tough part was narrowing it down to a top 10.

But then it hit me — are there songs that the ophthalmic surgeon should avoid playing? It turns out there is no small shortage of songs that the average patient might not want to audibly ingest while lightly sedated and about to be cut upon.

Airlines have wisely chosen to scratch certain movies from their libraries. You won’t see “Flight,” “Snakes on a Plane,” “Airplane,” “United 93,” “Cast Away,” “Alive” or “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” on your next flight.

In the same spirit, I offer you my following top-10 songs that should never, under any circumstance, be played during eye surgery!


In ascending order, according to my small local sample of friends and staff:

10. King of Pain – The Police, 1983. While Sting wrote this as a post-separation song from his wife, your patient will likely interpret it differently.

9. Anything – Third Eye Blind. With a band name like that, all of their songs are disqualified.

8. Like a Surgeon – Weird Al Yankovic, 1985. When the lyrics shout out, “Like a surgeon, cuttin’ for the very first time,” someone needs to change the station, stat.

7. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Culture Club, 1982. Double disqualification. First, the title phrase is said eight times during the song. Second, Culture Club.

6. The First Cut is the Deepest – Cat Stevens, 1967. While the first cut truly is the deepest in most of our surgeries, there’s just no need to remind patients of that over and over.

5. Pinball Wizard – The Who, 1969. Would rather not hear a song about a deaf, dumb and blind kid.

4. Cuts Like a Knife – Bryan Adams, 1983. It’s not just the lyric, “Now it cuts like a knife,” that’s bad. It’s that it’s followed by, “But it feels so right.” Seems like we are enjoying the operation just a little too much.

3. I Go Blind – 54-40, 1986. Mostly we Americans know the 1996 Hootie and the Blowfish version of this song rather than the original Canadian alternative rock version. This is partly because in the U.S. we don’t really follow much of anything that happens north of the border. Plus the “Hootie” version, was featured on an episode of “Friends” in 1995, “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant.” Why should we avoid this song? The title speaks for itself.

2. Oops!... I Did It Again – Britney Spears, 2000. No one wants to hear the word “Oops!” during any type of surgery.

1. Blinded by the Light – Bruce Springsteen, 1973. Likely you know the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band version, which hit number one on the charts in 1977, an example of a cover much-improved over the original. When asking staff and friends about the number one song they don’t want to hear when being operated on, this came up the most, by far.


Also, the lyrics are “Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night,” a reference to the 1932 Ford Coupe whose driver is revving up the engine. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what you always thought you heard. You’re welcome. OM