Monday, June 8, 2009

Songs for Nights When Sleep Is Just a No Go

There are few feelings as fucked as being awake in your bed at 4:45 on Sunday night. Or rather, Monday morning. You’ve watched the clock flip past all of the hours when you calculate how much sleep you could still get and into the hours when you calculate how soon you have to get up. The sky is getting suspiciously cobalt. Even your neighbors have shut the fuck up. Just prior to birds and garbage trucks, just after the last laps of the really loud cars full of kids about to get in trouble for staying out, you’re the only person awake in the world. Here’s your mixtape, insomniac.

Songs for Nights When Sleep Is Just a No Go
(MOST of the mixtape available on

1. Low – Tonight
Kathy says: This one’s slow and twinkly and belongs at the beginning of every insomniac’s mixtape. If there’s any song in the world that might possibly lull you to sleep after hours of staring at the ceiling and listening to your neighbors fight in Spanish on the stoop (which is what I get to do, at least), this is the jam.

2. Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
Kai says: Maybe it was just growing up in the NY Metropolitan area, but I swear, this song is always on the radio in the middle of the night. Turn on any rock station around 3:00am and you’ll hear “At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head…”

3. The Gossip – Dark Lines
Kai says: Even heavy makeup can’t conceal her sleepless nights.

4. Smog – The Orange Glow of a Stranger’s Living Room
Kai says: This dude can’t sleep, feels restless, goes out walking and notices the glow of a stranger’s living room. It looks warmer than his own.

5. M Ward – O Lazy Days
Kai says: Crooning about not having a good night’s rest in a long, long time.

6. Elliott Smith – 2:45 AM
Kathy says: The truly sleepless know that feeling when you’ve been awake for hours, there’s no hope you’ll go to sleep, and suddenly you’re all, wait a minute, I don’t just suck at being asleep. I completely suck at everything. Elliott gets it.

7. Grizzly Bear – Lullabye
Kathy says: I like that this song is called “Lullabye” but it doesn’t even pretend to put you to sleep; the song’s about sitting in a folding chair with a glass of gin by a wading pool and the repeated line is “restless nights.”

8. Atlas Sound - Recent Bedroom
Kathy says: This song’s got about three lines, and none of them are about sleeping. But bedroom’s in the title and it’s about walking around and not being able to cry, and somewhere on a particularly sleepless night you’re doing to have to do this. Take your iPod when you pace around the kitchen and drink out of the orange juice because you’re bored and frustrated—this is the song for that.

9. The Evangelicals – How Do You Sleep?
Kai says: Here’s a guy who can’t sleep because he’s too preoccupied by nightmares and bumps in the night.

10. Heartless Bastards – Wide Awake
Kathy says: I think this one’s about being metaphorically wide awake, but fuck it. I like this one because it has some balls. When you’re tired, this one’s about being angry you’re still awake. “I’m so wide awake,” it starts, “so wired and I don’t like this state.”

11. Free Energy – Dream City
Kathy says: There’s a difference between being up all night and staying up all night. After a certain point (say, a whole playlist’s worth of insomnia jams), it’s time to get up and find the other kids still awake. Because seriously? Fuck work.

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