Saturday, July 30, 2011

Track of the Week: I Go to Sleep by The Kinks

You know sometimes you want to love so badly and you find someone you want and you think its real and it refuses to be? That is what this song is about. It is so short and simple, but is more complex when you pay attention. The emotions fly start off simple, grow, expand, explode, crash and return again. And the whole thing is just two voices (singing the same part) and one piano. It allows the emotion of the lyrics to stand out.
It sounds sweet and hopeful in the first verse.
When I look up from my pillow I dream you are there with me
Though you are far away I know you'll always be near to me
How nice. Thinking of the one you love feels good. And you can begin to think the song is just a simple love song to a far away love. But...

More is filled in by the second verse and the picture gets a bit more bittersweet, still nostalgic, but not as hopeful and a bit more desperate.
I look around me and feel you are ever so close to me
Each tear that flows from my eyes brings back memories of you to me
This is obviously not simple. It is painful. The memories, while happy, mock the singer. It is like they say, "This. Remember this? You had this and now you don't. You were happy and now you're not. You can not forget this now."

The third verse features the singer breaking down and crying out for her, pleading.
I was wrong, I will cry, I will love you to the day I die
You alone, you alone and no one else, you were meant for me
There are two ways to read "I was wrong." Either he was wrong because he did something wrong or he was wrong because he promised he would not become so desperate. I think the latter makes more sense. Knowing you have lost control is difficult. Now, it's hard to think of "you were meant for me" as sweet. It is desperate and angry. It is selfish to think the only chance someone has of happiness is to be with you because you are made for each other. But that feeling persists and it is hard to get over.
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me
This follows all but the third verse. I think because it is the nicest line in the song. And at this point he can not say it. He is too angry.

After that outburst, the song returns to what it once was. But the lyrics are resigned to sadness, no longer retaining any of the hopefulness exhibited two minutes before.
When morning comes once more I have the loneliness you left me
Each day drags by until finally night time descends on me
The morning has become the first sign that nothing is changing. "Once more" it comes and reminds him of what has happened and what no longer exists. When finally night comes, he is able to fall back into dreaming of her. And we start this all over again.

I feel this song accurately represents something. And some people go through this and it is never easy. But that is why pop songs exist. At their best you get two minutes and fourty-two seconds of not feeling alone, not feeling like you are the only person to feel like this. You know there are other songs and things can change. Life can go on.

Of the two cover versions I like the Pretenders' one more. There is too much drums in Sia's. And it is obvious the influence of the Pretenders' version on Sia's. That is okay though. Neither is as good as the Kinks' original simply because of the simplicity. It is such a nice contrast. Too much complexity masks the meaning in this case.

Video
The Kinks


The Pretenders


Sia


Lyrics
When I look up from my pillow I dream you are there with me
Though you are far away I know you'll always be near to me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me

I look around me and feel you are ever so close to me
Each tear that flows from my eyes brings back memories of you to me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me

I was wrong, I will cry, I will love you to the day I die
You alone, you alone and no one else, you were meant for me

When morning comes once more I have the loneliness you left me
Each day drags by until finally night time descends on me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me
I go to sleep, sleep, and imagine that you're there with me

Sample
I Go to Sleep (Demo Version) by The Kinks
I Go to Sleep by The Pretenders
I Go to Sleep by Sia

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