Songs About Sleep
Sleep is an Important Part of the Human Experience
Even though sleep is a necessary aspect of human survival, it can also be elusive at times. Because sleep is an important part of everyday life it should be of no surprise that a number of songs have been written about sleep.
Songs about sleep tackle the subject from a number of different angles. Many deal with the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Others touch upon different sleep disorders. Then there are those songs that deal with the subject of dreams and nightmares.
Right now we are going to consider 12 songs about sleep. These songs address the subject from a variety of different perspectives. The list is presented chronologically, not numerically.
Ole Lukøje (Mr. Sandman)
Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
This classic standard was first recorded by female vocal group The Chordettes in 1954. The Sandman in the song refers to the mythical folklore character that would sprinkle dust in the eyes of children to give them dreams. In the Chordettes song they are longing for pleasant dreams of a cute guy. The song does have a soothing dreamy quality about it.
Along with the Chordettes version it has been covered numerous times. Some of the artists to have recorded it include The Andrew Sisters, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye & Emmylou Harris. The most disturbing version of the song would have to be the 1996 version by German metal band Blind Guardian.
Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes (Video)
The Everly Brothers
All I Have to Do Is Dream - The Everly Brothers
"All I Have to Do Is Dream" was released as a single in 1958 by The Everly Brothers. The song features the impeccable vocal harmonies that the two brothers became known for.
In the song dreaming was the only way for the brothers to have a chance at being with an unattainable female. So in one sense dreams are presented as something blissful. But on the other hand the song also reflects a sense of mourning over the fact that eventually you would have to wake up.
"I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine
Anytime night or day
Only trouble is, gee whiz
I'm dreamin' my life away"
All I Have To Do Is Dream by Everly Brothers (Video)
I'm So Tired - The Beatles
"I'm So Tired" is from The Beatles 1968 The White Album. The song was penned by John Lennon and it was in response to a bout of insomnia he was suffering with. The bout of insomnia was connected to going on a three week mediation retreat, and he missed his then soon to be wife Yoko Ono.
The musical arrangement has a certain restless feel, which suits the subject matter. It is definitely a song that many of us can relate to.
Have you ever suffered from insomnia?
I'm So Tired by The Beatles (Video)
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - Warren Zevon
"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is from Warren Zevon's 1976 self titled album. The song deals with insomnia. It also deals with self imposed sleep deprivation. Living the rock & roll lifestyle can definitely interfere with sleep. The song is definitely appropriately raucous for the subject matter. His 1996 greatest hits compilation was named after this song.
Warren Zevon ended up falling to sleep in death when he lost his battle to cancer on September 7th 2003.
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead by Warren Zevon (Video)
I'm Tired of Waking Up Tired - The Diodes
The Diodes were a Canadian punk band from Toronto, Ontario who had some minor success in the late 70s & early 80s. Their most notable hit was "I'm Tired of Waking Up Tired" from their 1979 album Released. It is another in a long line of songs which links the frustration of how the rock & roll lifestyle contributes to a lack of sleep. Of course even those of us that don't have a rock & roll lifestyle can relate to the sentiments of waking up tired. It is a truly rocking anthem for insomniacs everywhere.
Tired of Waking Up Tired by The Diodes (Video)
Talking In Your Sleep - The Romantics
"Talking In Your Sleep" is from The Romantics' 1983 album In Heat. This catchy, but somewhat dated new wave classic deals with the subject of sleep taking (which can also be referred to as Somniloquy). In the song's lyrics, the protagonist's lover reveals the secrets that she keeps because she talks in her sleep. I am sure many of us can relate to revealing incriminating details while we were sleeping.
Sleep Talking Poll
Do you ever talk in your sleep?
Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (Video)
Enter Sandman - Metallica
"Enter Sandman" was from Metallica's 1991 self titled album (generally referred to as The Black Album). This is the second song on this list which deals with the fictional Sandman character. While the Cordettes "Mr. Sandman" deals with pleasant dreams, "Enter Sandman" deals with a child's nightmares.
The dark nature of the song is also reminiscent of German author E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1816 short story Der Sandmann (The Sandman). The story betrays a darker version of The Sandman, who steals the eyeballs of children at night. It is definitely more nightmarish that most of the more traditional tales of the Sandman folklore.
Enter Sandman by Metallica (Video)
Daysleeper - R.E.M.
"Daysleeper" is from R.E.M.'s 1998 album UP. The song deals with the plight of the night shift worker.
It is a song that has always resonated with me. Back when the song came out I was working the graveyard shift. The song well depicts the isolation and messed up sleep patterns that become the norm for the night shift worker. Even though I it has been years since I have worked steady graveyard shifts, I still haven't fully recovered from the messed up sleep patterns.
Can you sleep during the day?
Daysleeper by R.E.M.
I Need Some Sleep - Eels
"I Need Some Sleep" was initially featured in the 2004 soundtrack to the movie Shrek 2. It was also released on the Eels 2008 compilation, Meet the Eels: Essential Eels, Vol. 1 (1996-2006). It is a gorgeous but sombre song which deals with struggles of insomnia.
The lyrics refer to traditional methods of trying to falling asleep as counting sheep as not working. The lyrics also contain the poignant line "you just got to let it go". It serves as a reminder that insomnia is quite often associated with feelings of stress and anxieties. But letting go of the baggage that keeps us awake can be easier said than done.
I Need Some Sleep by Eels (Video)
Journal of a Narcoleptic - Dan Mangan
"Journal of a Narcoleptic" is from Canadian indie artist Dan Mangan's 2005 debut album Postcards and Daydreaming. I still can't listen to this song without getting goose bumps.
Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder where the narcoleptic suffers from excessive sleepiness and daytime sleeping attacks. The song well expresses the frustration that the narcoleptic must experience.
Journal of a Narcoleptic by Dan Mangan (Video)
Sleeping Sickness - City and Colour
"Sleeping Sickness" is from City and Colour's 2008 album Bring Me Your Love. City and Colour is the recording moniker for Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green (City and Colour, do you get it?). The song also features vocal contributions from The Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie. The Tragically Hip is legendary in Canada, but is somewhat unknown to the rest of the world.
Along with a number of other songs on this list it addresses the inability to sleep. The song well expresses the restlessness associated with lack of sleep. As someone who has had ongoing struggles with insomnia, I can well relate to the sentiments of this song.
Sleeping Sickness by City and Colour (Video)
I Couldn't Sleep - Joey Ramone
"I Couldn't Sleep" is from Joey Ramone's 2012 posthumous album, Ya Know? The song has an infectious 60s bubblegum feel. I guess if you are going to suffer from insomnia you might as well just rock out to Joey Ramone.
"Well I was slipping I was slopping, I was reeling and a-rocking
I couldn't sleep at all last night
Well I was tossing I was turning, I was rocking and a-bopping
I couldn't sleep at all last night"
Joey Ramone finally did fall asleep in death when he lost his battle to cancer on April 15th, 2001.
I Couldn't Sleep by Joey Ramone (Video)
© 2013 CJ Baker