Are You Sleeping?
Chris Estey recent-
ly put out the follow-
ing call for contribu-
tors. I’ve included
my responses below.
Hey! You are getting this
because I am a fan of your
work. I am putting to-
gether a thick, communi-
ty fanzine about music
and sleep and dreams for
publication in June 2010
and was wondering if you
could send me back a few
words about this subject. I will cut and paste verbatim what you give me as long as it's good. Here are the questions. Feel free to answer any you want to and ignore any that you want to.
What is your favorite song, or are
your favorite songs, about sleep?
Harry Nilsson's "Are You Sleeping?" from The Point, a favorite
record as a kid, a favorite record as an adult. And I still haven't
seen the animated film (in any of its iterations), but I had the gate-
fold LP with the illustrated booklet, so I'm familiar with the story.
The lyric in the title is the kind of thing a parent might ask a
child, but it works as pillow talk, too: "Are you sleeping?/Can you
hear me?/Do you know if I am by your side?/Does it matter, if you
hear me?/When the morning comes I'll be there by your side."
(The tune combines one of Nilsson's music hall-style melodies
with a multi-layered vocal atop a lilting samba rhythm.)
Every track, from "Everything's Got 'Em" to "Think About Your
Troubles" offers several interpretations, which helps to explain
The Point's enduring appeal. Depending on my mood, "Are You
Sleeping?" is comforting, romantic--even macabre. I mean, you
might also utter those words to someone in a coma or to a per-
son who's just died. In other words: it's Nilsson at his best.
Second choice: "Comfortably Numb." Even if Floyd weren't sing-
ing about sleep, the lyrics follow a sort of dream logic, i.e. "When
I was a child I had a fever/my hands felt just like two balloons..."
Roger Waters told Rolling Stone that an experience with tran-
quilizers for stomach cramps inspired the scenario, i.e. there's
a fine line between songs about drugs and songs about dreams.
What is the most in-
teresting or weirdest
dream you've ever
had about music?
It's always the same: the
dreaded disc jockey dream.
After two decades in the biz,
it's part of my DNA. I've
been semi-retired for a few
years now, but still experi-
ence it every few months. Since I got my start in the 19-
80s, the dream always revolves around carts that won't play
and records that are scratched, broken, or missing. In oth-
er words: it's more about silence (“dead air”) than noise.
Do you use music to sleep by? Have you ev-
er? What was it and when, if not now? If
now, what music do you listen to sleep by?
As a kid I slept with a transistor radio under my pillow. I grew up
in Alaska, so alternative radio wasn't an option. I don't think we
even had AOR in the mid-1970s, so I listened to Top 40. I have no
idea whatever happened to that little radio, but it served me well.
The remaining questions: 1) Is there any music that puts you to sleep? 2) Do you ever dream about songs? If so, are they usually songs you've heard or made up ones in your head? 3) If you dream about songs frequently, do you maybe have a top five? 4) Do you dream about records? If so, any recurring ones that exist? 5) Do you dream about records that don't exist? Do you remember any of them? 6) Do you dream about record stores? If so, is there one dream about them you can tell me? 7) If you are a writer, have you ever written about music from your dreams? 8) If you are a (even kind of, sort of a) musician, have you ever written a song in your dreams, and actually created music from it? 9) If you are a writer, has writing about music affected your sleep and dreams? 10) If you are a (even kind of, sort of a) musician, how does performing music affect your sleeping? 11) What was your most noteworthy dream about a concert? 12) What was your most noteworthy dream after a concert, if you remember one?
Endnote: Slightly edited from the original text.
Images from The Saw Pit and Rate Your Music.