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Songs About Sleep

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 18th 2022
A soundtrack for sleep about sleep
My neighbour sort of suggested this. I'm something of an insomniac and when she saw me up and about at the crack of dawn having seen the lights in my house on at two in the morning, we got to talking and she jokingly said, "Maybe you should listen to songs about sleep to help you sleep."

Well, I decided to go one better – here's a column of songs about sleep!
song, music, pop, rock, sleep, nap, snooze
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

This was a hard list only because of the sheer number of songs I had to leave out. Of course, I set rules:
1) not songs about no sleep;
2) one song per artist;
3) one version of each song; and
4) I need to like the song.

So… sleep. Sleep is that time when our brains shut down. I did some research for an essay about this a few years ago and discovered that scientists still are not a hundred percent sure why we – as in animals in general – need to sleep. Recharging and energy conversation seems to be the best guesses. Just a little evolutionary quirk, I suppose.

Anyway, here's a list of songs about sleeping!

'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' by The Tokens (1961)

The story of this song is a litany of people stealing the intellectual property of others, no correct credits being given, and the Disney Corporation (allegedly) trying to claim they wrote it. That's beyond the scope of this. What isn't is that this is a magnificent piece of doo-wop singing with that gorgeous "Wimoweh" section, from a band who did the first version to chart. I also like the Tight Fit version from the 1980s, but this one is just wonderful.

'Cry Myself To Sleep' by Del Shannon (1962)

While not well-known, this early Del Shannon song doesn't really showcase his singing ability, but does show the emotion he could put into a song. I do really like this song, though.

'I'm Only Sleeping' by The Beatles (1966)

From the classic album Revolver, this trippy bit of psychedelia about (possibly) taking drugs is a great song in the Beatles' canon.

'How Do You Sleep' by John Lennon (1971)

Sticking with The Beatles theme, when friends have a falling out and they are talented songwriters, you get tracks like this, where Lennon just rails against Paul McCartney. This early form of the "diss" track is still rather uncomfortable if you know the back story.

'Sleeping With The Television On' by Billy Joel (1980)

This good rock track, an album cut from Glass Houses, is one of the many songs Joel recorded that were never singles and yet are really good. If he had been releasing albums today, using the album bomb method of song release, he would have dominated Spotify or whatever it is without even trying.

'Sleepwalk' by Ultravox (1980)

Such a wonderful bit of synth-pop from the early days of the New Wave music that exploded out of England and made the 1980s so much fun at Blue Light Discos. This is one of the band's lesser-known tracks and yet is also one of their really good ones.

'I Go To Sleep' by Pretenders (1981)

A nice, well-performed, quite touching song from only a couple of years into the career of the band. This was one of the first tracks of theirs I heard and the first one I actually liked.

'Talking In Your Sleep' by The Romantics (1983)

Featuring a singing drummer, this is one of the two hit singles the band had, and I am really surprised their career did not reach greater heights.

'Sleeping Bag' by ZZ Top (1985)

1980s ZZ Top, when they hit the peak of their commercial success while adopting the modern (at the time) sounds, taking them away from their blues-boogie base. It didn't matter – songs like this were great and showed that, used well, technology can enhance a song without over-dominating.

'Sleeping With The Past' by Elton John (1989)

The title track from probably the last genuine rock album Elton John recorded before slipping into definitive pop territory, this is decent song that is overshone by so much more of his extensive and great discography. Still, I really like it.

'Sleeps With Angels' by Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1994)

Neil Young has been called the God-father of grunge and it is tracks like this that shows that is probably not far from the mark. The whole album of which this is the title track is good, but this song is the standout of the collection.

'Only When I Sleep' by The Corrs (1997)

Those vocal harmonies that The Corrs are renowned for are there in this song, which I remember hearing on the radio at the time, and which still stands up today as a wonderful piece of pop music.

'Sleeping Sun' by Nightwish (1998)

If you want an introduction to symphonic rock, then you need to start with Nightwish, and it is tracks like this that show how wonderful this classical-rock combination can truly be. Those operatic voices and that magnificent musicianship gives a whole that is so wonderful.

'Sleep' by My Chemical Romance (2006)

The Black Parade is one of the best albums of the 2000s and I don't think there is a bad track on it. Some of the music might be of its time, but this is a great album, and songs like this stand the test of time.

'Dancing In My Sleep' by Deep Purple (2020)

The album Whoosh was a surprisingly good return to form for Deep Purple, and this closing track is close to their old sound. So glad they're back and this good.

15 tracks about sleeping. I've already done a column on dreams, so think of this as a companion piece to that one.

I hope you enjoyed this and I hope you can sleep well, or at least relax.


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Why? Sleep songs could help you sleep
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Your Comment
I’ll never forget hearing I Go To Sleep for the first time, or How Do You Sleep?!
by Jeremy Bryce (score: 2|281) 290 days ago
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