JAIMIE VERNON – How Do You Sleep?

Promo Shot_Twilight Zone_thumbI’m tired. I’m really effin’ tired. It’s the “I’m so tired that I can’t even roll off my lover and rudely fall asleep beside her because I’ve already rudely fallen asleep on TOP of her tired.” [admit it, you’ve done this…at least ONCE.]

I started a new job in February.  And it’s sapping the fiber of my very being. I’ve had jobs that have made me tired before. But they were office gigs where the exhaustion was mostly mental – from dealing with asshat employers and bigger asshatted customers. In my current job I work alone, but for the first time in 30 years of employment I’m Horsesactually working. Up at 4.30 AM and usually home by 5 or 6PM. Eight to nine hours of driving and walking. When I finally get home I eat dinner, stare blankly at photos of cute cats, idiotic diatribes about Monsanto, Rob Ford, hockey and Chemtrail conspiracy theorists on Facebook. It’s all I can do to keep Mr. Sandman at bay. By 9PM I’m done. I haven’t accomplished much except kiss the cat and pet the family good night.

Falling asleepSince February writing this blog has been a Herculean effort in endurance and semi-conscious perseverance. Twelve cans of Pepsi is the amount of caffeine required to keep me awake long enough to hammer out a few thousand words that I can only pray make sense and has the minimum amount of typos (thank God, Segarini proof reads it in advance).

I’ve got too much shit to do in the rest of my life. I need to re-edit the two Encyclopedias so I can release a 2014 update in the new year. I’m co-writing Skip Prokop’s autobiography, Sunny Days, which we hope to continue with now that he’s recovered from his near fatal heart attack; I’ve got my Time Lapse Humanities Sci-Fi novels on the go; my ongoing Life’s A Canadian Rock Part 2 biography (which I started posting on DBAWIS and then had to stop because I can’t focus long enough to remember what fucking band I was in at the time); and the sequel to Life’s A Canadian BLOG which is written but just needs to be edited. Oh, and I’m editing several novels by OTHER people as well as writing two monthly columns for Canada In Tune magazine. No wonder I’m so friggin’ tired.

ShakespaereShakespeare knew all about this when he wrote in Hamlet:
To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream;
Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death,
What dreams may come…

As Warren Zevon so succinctly opined: I’ll sleep when I’m dead  .

Warren finally shuffled off this mortal coil allowing him the relief he so wished for. I’m so fucking jealous right now.

Falling asleep2People keep telling me “Oh, you’ll get used to your new schedule – it just takes a while for your body to get used to it.” My body isn’t tired. It hurts but it isn’t tired. I’m tired tired. I’m riding the subway everyday with my head propped up against a window doing that “transit nod” (also known as the “subway slump”). There’s drool running out of the side of my mouth and I now have a permanent kink in my neck. Riders on the train must think I’m homeless or the character known as Charlie in the song “M.T.A.” by The Kingston Trio.

Rather than riding endlessly underneath the streets of Boston it’ll be Toronto. Kennedy to Kipling and back again ad infinitum until someone on the TTC cleaning staff pokes me with a broom to see if I’m still alive.

Falling Asleep_drivingI look around me at the other riders and it’s the same story. We’re a society of people not getting enough zzzzzzzzzz’s. And that’s just the transit riders. I fear the notion that there’s just as many people at street level driving automobiles and transport trucks who are just as tired. Forget distracted driving. How about somnambulant driving?

Sleeping catThis isn’t news. It’s not even a new problem. We’ve been sleep deprived since those fuckers started messing around with daylights savings time. The farmers had it right – up at dawn and back to sleep by sunset. But it was a simpler life back then…with only back-breaking labour and child rearing to punctuate the monotony. Now we’re filling every semi-awake moment with stimulus. Either to distract us or to sedate us. There’s 700 channels of shit and nothing on. But we’ll be damned if we put that remote control down even when our eyelids are at half-mast.

It has not gone unnoticed by artists. Here, in no particular sleep dis-order, is a list of some of the most observant ditties about counting sheep and other sleep related activities:

1) THE DIODES – “Tired of Waking Up Tired
DiodesIt’s not often that a punk anthem becomes a slogan but The Diodes’ seminal “Tired of Waking Up Tired” entered the modern vernacular and has never seemed so apt. Featuring a cool live video of the band at the Peppermint Lounge in 1981.

I’m tired of waking up tired, waking up tired, yeah, wakin’ up tired
I’m tired of waking up tired, waking up tired, yeah, wakin’ up tired
Too much time to kill is killing me …
Think like a computer, make like Casanova
Perpetuate a myth, about yourself
Too many hours in a day, to think about non-stop motion ..

2) THE WALLFLOWERS – “Sleepwalker
WallflowersThe young Jakob Dylan – is there any doubt that he is the son of Bob? – gave us 2000’s “Sleepwalker” where he discusses the pratfalls of fame and living through it while asleep at the wheel.

Sleepwalker, don’t be shy
Now don’t open your eyes tonight
You’ll be the one that defends my life
While I’m dead asleep dreamin’

Cupid, don’t draw back your bow
Sam Cooke didn’t know what I know
I’ll never be your valentine
The sleepwalker in me
And God only know that I’ve tried

3) CHRIS THILE & MICHAEL DAVE – “Sleep With One Eye Open
Thiles_DavesThe duo vying for a spot alongside Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers takes on the Lester Flatt (of Flatt & Scruggs fame) classic -as made popular by Dolly Parton – about a daughter who sneaks out of the house while Daddy’s sleeping. Lock up your daughters…or sleep with one eye open.

From now on, all night long
You ain’t gonna have a chance
To treat your Daddy wrong
You’ve been stepping, so they say
Between midnight and day
I’m gonna sleep with one eye open from now on

5) THE BEATLES – “I’m Only Sleeping” and “I’m So Tired
LennonLennon either liked to sleep, couldn’t sleep or was obsessed with sleep. He’d revisit the theme as a solo artist with the scathing attack on former band mate Macca with the tune “How Can You Sleep”.

I’m so tired I don’t know what to do
I’m so tired my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do
You’d say I’m putting you on
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got
for a little peace of mind

6) THE TREWS – “Tired of Waiting
TrewsThe Trews entered the Canadian music consciousness hitting the ground running with the rock anthem “Not Ready To Go” in 2004 as well as this little ditty about wasting time and running out of energy just waiting on someone.

I am wired and fading
Looking blind and blaming
Following and trailing words
You might be saying
I am tired of waiting
I’m tired of waiting I am tired

7) THE 5th DIMENSION – “Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All
5th DimensionHow many of us have lost sleep thinking about a true love/crush/sweetheart? This is the official theme song written by Tony Mcauley who also happened to write the classics “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and “Build Me Up Buttercup” as a member of The Foundations, as well as “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”  (Edison Lighthouse) and “Don’t Give Up on Us” (David Soul).

Last night I didn’t get to sleep at all, no, no
I lay awake and watched until the mornin’ light
Washed away the darkness of the lonely night (lonely night)
Oh, and last night I got to thinkin’ maybe I, I, I
Should call you up and just forget my foolish pride
I heard your number ringin’, I went cold inside
And last night I didn’t get to sleep at all

8) THE CHORDETTES – “Mr. Sandman”
ChordettesNearly 40 years before Metallica turned the Sandman into an evil entity ripping asunder the very souls from people’s dreams, four young ladies named The Chordettes wondered aloud if Mr. Sandman might bring them the man of their dreams.

Mister Sandman, (yeesss?) bring us a dream
Give him a pair of eyes with a congeal of gleam
Give him a lonely heart like Pagliacci
And lots of wavy hair like Liberace
Mister Sandman, someone to hold
Would be so peachy before we’re too old
So please turn on your magic beam
Mister Sandman, bring us
Please, please, please
Mister Sandman, bring us a dream

4) THE EELS – “I Need Some Sleep
EelsA sleeper of a soundtrack song from ‘Shrek 2’. This lullaby dirge evokes the mood of a groggy, tired creator (Mark Oliver) and being run-down by life’s constant grind.

I need some sleep
It can’t go on like this
I tried counting sheep
But there’s one I always miss
Everyone says I’m getting down too low
Everyone says you just gotta let it go
You just gotta let it go
You just gotta let it go
I need some sleep

9) THE ROMANTICS – “Talking In Your Sleep
Sleep TalkingNothing like building a relationship of love and trust while spying on your better half while they sleep. Creepy, stalkerish behaviour that led the Romantics to a #3 hit on Billboard by February 1984. But it’s the Bucks Fizz version from the same year that topped the charts in the UK. The video, with its shirtless, douche bag vocal delivery is a lot more on point, thematically.

I hear the secrets that you keep
When you’re talking in your sleep
I hear the secrets that you keep
When you’re talking in your sleep

When I hold you in my arms at night
Don’t you know you’re sleeping in the spotlight
And all your dreams that you keep inside
You’re telling me the secrets
That you just can’t hide

10) PETULA CLARK – “Don’t Sleep In the Subway
PetulaTony Hatch and Jackie Trent’s 1967 song inspired by the 1961 Broadway Musical “Sleeping In the Subway” sees Petula Clark imploring her lover not to storm out after an argument. Swallow his pride rather than bunking on a rainy park bench or in the subway (I guess naming it “Don’t Sleep in the Tube” didn’t quite have the same ring to it).

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’
Don’t stand in the pouring rain
Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’
The night is long
Forget your foolish pride
Nothing’s wrong
Now you’re beside me again

Santo_Johnny11) SANTO & JOHNNY “Sleepwalk
Sometimes you don’t need lyrics to get your point across. The dreamlike slide work on this 1959 instrumental classic evokes the mood of drifting off to La La Land on a black starry night. Try to get this out of your head now.

12) THE TOKENS – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight
TokensYou’ve heard it a million times. It has become iconic and a cliché simultaneously. And it’s the earworm that’ll wash out that Santo & Johnny song in a heartbeat. You’re welcome.

Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh
Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh
Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh
Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

2 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – How Do You Sleep?”

  1. brian cullman Says:

    Great choices, but I’d add SLEEPY MAN BLUES (Bukka White did the original, but I prefer Geoff Muldaur’s version); Fats Waller’s TOO TIRED; and my own BOOK OF SLEEP (from a live recording of OK SAVANT at CBGB’s, Vernon Reid on killer guitar…)

  2. All great choices too, Brian. Thanks for reading!

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