Tuesday Tunes 111: Sleep

I don’t know about you, but my sleep patterns are fairly erratic. I use an app to keep a record of them, and it shows some big variations on a daily basis. Nothing seems to make much difference to this, however much doctors tell us how important good, regular sleep is to our wellbeing. But it gave me an idea for this week’s theme, and I knew of quite a few songs to fit the bill, so I give you: songs about sleep. All but one have the word in their title, and that is a great song about FOMO so I just had to include it.

I’m starting with one from, in my view, the best band ever, the one that changed the face of pop and rock music:

As the video shows, The Beatles included I’m Only Sleeping on their Revolver album, which was released in August 1966. Well, they did everywhere except in North America, that is, as this was one of the three tracks which were omitted from its release over there – in those days, record companies messed about mercilessly with track listings, without the band’s approval. Those three songs had, however, been included on an album released only in the US and Canada in June 1966, entitled Yesterday And Today. That album reached #1 in both countries, as did Revolver in the US, the UK, Australia, Finland and West Germany (as it was then). But it only got to #18 in Canada – hopefully Capitol Records learned a lesson from that! The song was written by John Lennon, and in a London Evening Standard article published on 4 March 1966, Maureen Cleave, a journalist and friend of Lennon, wrote: “He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England. ‘Physically lazy,’ he said. ‘I don’t mind writing or reading or watching or speaking, but sex is the only physical thing I can be bothered with any more.'” Sounds a good life to me!

My second song for today comes from a band that may have gone under the radar for many, but I absolutely loved the album this was on:

Semisonic only made three albums, the first of which didn’t chart anywhere while the other two were both top twenty here in the UK, though much less successful in their US homeland. Singing In My Sleep was a track on their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, released in March 1998 and peaking at #16 in the UK and #43 in the US. This was the second song from the album to be a single, and got to #39 in the UK. It didn’t make the main Billboard chart in the US though, but it did get to #11 on their Alternative Airplay listing. I bought the album when it first came out and thought it was fantastic: in those days I had a long car commute around the North Circular Road in London (a kind of hell on earth, really) and it was a great album for driving.

This next one is from a band who had an American lead singer, though the rest of its members were Brits. Like Semisonic, they are also a band who generally did better in the UK charts than the American ones:

I Go To Sleep was written by Ray Davies of The Kinks: his band didn’t record it, though there is a solo demo version of it that dates back to 1964. The Pretenders version came out as a single in November 1981, at a time when their leader, Chrissie Hyde, had been dating Davies, and I think she does a wonderful job with a tender love song that was a little removed from their usual jangly guitar rock stuff. The song reached #7 in the UK chart – still their second best ever placing behind Brass in Pocket, which got to #1 – but wasn’t a hit in the US. It had first been released in August 1981 as a track on the band’s second album – Pretenders II – which also peaked at #7 in the UK and got to #10 in the US.

After that, how about another tender love song. This is a beauty:

You Can Sleep While I Drive was a track on Melissa Etheridge’s second album, Brave And Crazy, released in September 1989, peaking at #22 in the US and #63 in the UK. The album has to date sold more than 1m copies in the US and 200k in Canada, though Wikipedia doesn’t show a chart placing for it there. Melissa released the track as a single in 1990, but it only appears to have charted in The Netherlands, at #56, and at #105 in Australia. Trisha Yearwood recorded a cover version in April 1995, which reached #23 on the US Country chart and #26 on the Canadian Country listings. I much prefer the original, and I think this is a stunning performance, with so much love and tenderness.

Something a little different? How about a brilliantly rowdy and raucous live performance from the late, great, Warren Zevon:

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead was initially a track on Warren’s self-titled second album, released in May 1976, and was also included on his live album Stand In The Fire, which came out on Boxing Day 1980. The first of those albums reached #189 in the US, while the second got to #80. Neither made the UK charts, though, which for me is a real shame as I rate Warren as one of the best singer-songwriters there has ever been, and it is sad to think that it is nearly nineteen years since he was taken from us at the age of just 56.

For today’s next tune I’m playing the one without sleep in its title, though I think you’ll see why I am including it:

I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing was written by Diane Warren for the movie Armageddon, and she originally envisaged that it would be performed by someone like Celine Dion. But as Liv Tyler, the daughter of Aerosmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler, was starring in the movie it seemed a natural choice for the band to record it. The rest, as they say, is history. The song was released in August 1998 and was a massive hit, getting to #1 in the US and many other countries, and to #4 in the UK. It has to date sold more than 5m copies in the US and nearly 2m here in the UK, which is quite some going! It hasn’t ever been on one of the band’s regular albums, but was included on the July 2002 compilation Oh Yeah: Ultimate Aerosmith Hits, which got to #4 in the US and #6 in the UK. It has also featured on subsequent compilations, too.

There doesn’t seem to be a video for this, and I can only find the official audio version of today’s penultimate song, but no matter – it is still a beautiful song even without pictures:

Matchbox Twenty could never be accused of being prolific. Their first three albums were released in 1996, 2000 and 2002, and then there was nothing until they released North in September 2012. Their fans, of whom I’m one, had obviously missed them, as the album got to #1 in the US and #14 in the UK, their highest chart positions in both countries. Sleeping At The Wheel is the album’s closing track and, since there hasn’t been anything new from them since then it may end up being a lovely way for them to end their career. I hope not, and am keeping the faith: they were scheduled to make a large US tour in 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, and has since been rescheduled three times, now due to be happening in 2023. Maybe there will be a new album to accompany it, if it ever happens!

I’m closing today with a song from one of my all time favourite bands, who I think I haven’t played nearly enough here. By way of redressing the balance, I give you:

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite was a track on R.E.M’s mega hit album Automatic For The People, which was released in October 1992. It reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the US – maybe a touch surprising that it did better here? In sales terms, it has achieved more than 3.5m in the US and 2.8m here – a phenomenal figure when you consider how much smaller our market is – and has sold over 18m copies worldwide. For me it is still one of the best albums ever made. This song was released as a single in February 1993 and got to #17 here in the UK, though it didn’t make the US chart. Its title and opening chords were borrowed from The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which has been a hit in several guises, and in a nice homage R.E.M. recorded it and made it the B-side to their single – it is a very nice version, and can also be found on their compilation album Complete Rarities: 1988-2011.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully there was something in there for you to enjoy: if you enjoyed them all then you may need to consider how closely our musical tastes align! Having posted three days in a row I’m off to take a break now, and will see you again in a few days. Have a great time, however you spend it 😊

34 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 111: Sleep

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  3. I don’t need a sleep ap to tell me my rubbish sleeping patterns – or if I did have the ap it would be too worrying. All the times in life, babies, shift work etc when you would love to lie in and now I can I am wide awake so early. Used to laugh at ‘old people’ getting up early!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. great topic Clive
    Never expected sleep!
    – I could imagine how the Singing In My Sleep song helped that commute and brought you back to those days –
    There is a long road with a sharp and fun turn in winter park FL and I Actually have a few songs connected to driving that path! So I like when you share your memory tidbits like that
    The matchbox twenty song was my fav today – even tho I don’t know many of their songs and never got into their music
    Oh and you are right / the You Can Sleep While I Drive is lovely

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could say I dreamed the idea but I was actually awake when I thought of it. I spent around ten years on that commute and listened to a lot of music in that time! It’s good how you have memories like that too, that are prompted by music.

      You should check out more of Matchbox Twenty. They have only made four albums but all are very good: my favourite is their debut, Yourself Or Someone Like You.

      I’m glad you liked the Melissa Etheridge one too: I’ve always thought it a beautiful song, and it is based on her own experience.


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  6. S-sl-sleep schedules? You mean … p-people have s-schedules that they … actually go to sleep at a certain time and sleep for a number of minutes or … m-maybe even hours? WOW! Who knew? Where can I order one of these s-sleep schedules?

    Loved the music, Clive! You only left out one that is a fave of mine, but probably not most of your readers … “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. While I didn’t use any of these songs for my own music post, I did get the idea from one of your songs, or rather the name of the band! And surprisingly, while I had never heard it, I loved the Warren Zevon song, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”! And I was most familiar with the Aerosmith song and I do like the music, but he … looks rather like somebody I would not want to invade my dreams or to run into in a dark alley!

    Thanks for the fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Allegedly so, Jill, but I’ve no idea where you can buy one!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the music. You’re the second to have mentioned Lion Sleeps Tonight. In my defence I did cite the R.E.M. version, which is one of the few I can listen to – some of the versions are real stinkers. Look up the one by Tight Fit, if you want to see what I mean. And that got to #1 here!

      Warren Zevon was great, and wrote some wonderfully funny songs amongst his more serious ones. In my view, a huge loss. Some great cover versions of his songs too: try Linda Ronstadt and Poor Poor Pitiful Me, for example. And his own Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner always makes me smile – a Letterman favourite.

      I know what you mean about Steven Tyler. He has a sleazy look about him, doesn’t he!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I checked on Amazon, but they don’t have any.

        Um … I think I’ll pass on Tight Fit … I cut my teeth on The Tokens version, but I did just now listen to the R.E.M. version … a bit slower than The Tokens, but not bad. But then … THEN, never having heard of Warren Zevon or his music until discovering it here … I listened to “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” from back when he appeared on David Letterman’s show, read the lyrics (the last line made me laugh … actually laugh!). And … well … stay tuned is all I can say.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m a big Aerosmith guy so that one was right in my wheelhouse. I also like Warren Zevon and Matchbox 20, although this was the first time I had heard those tunes. I owned the Brass in Pocket album and like many of the Pretenders’ songs.

    Many songs often fit your category, so obviously, you can’t mention them all. The first two that popped into my head today were The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens and (this one might surprise you knowing my preferred genres) You’ve Been Talking in Your Sleep by Crystal Gayle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to have landed on a favourite and to have introduced you to some new ones you liked.

      Interesting thoughts that came to you. Both were in my mind too, and Lion Sleeps Tonight did get an honourable mention. If you don’t know the R.E.M. version do check it out – there have been many versions of that song, including some I wish I’d never heard! As for Crystal Gayle – not my kind of country!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is lovely, isn’t it. I’m pleased you think the choices were good. Renee Olstead is beautiful and has a beautiful voice, but I’m afraid jazz-style standards isn’t really my thing, sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always loved Sleep While I Drive, got the album and it’s the stand-out track.

    Thanks for the Semisonic track I didn’t know the song but I’ve now added it to my streaming playlist, Dan Wilson is such a fantastic writer.

    Anything from Warren Zevon is a must isn’t it?

    The only track that would send me to sleep is I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing…people love it but I think its one of the most ridiculous lyrics I’ve ever heard.

    But another fine selection, I don’t know quite how you do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Likewise. I played that album a lot when I first got it, and her next one too. That’s probably my favourite of this week’s videos.

      Semisonic were fairly short lived as a chart act but this album was especially good. I guess you know Closing Time, which Dan also wrote and which is on the album too? Clever lyrics.

      I never miss a chance to include Warren, and the energy in this performance leaps out at you, doesn’t it.

      No worries on Aerosmith – I’d be amazed if people liked them all! Thanks for your kind words – I have fun putting these together 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That Beatles’ track is new to me. However, I’ve found the secret of a good night’s sleep – don’t sleep during the day. If I’m a passenger in a car and nod off during the day, I never sleep very well that night.

    Liked by 1 person

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