OUT ON A LIMB: The Ins + Outs Of A Bedtime Playlist

September 16. 2013 | By Amy Osgood

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So what if the reality of the situation may be that I choose to fall asleep to music every night because I’m actually trying to drown out all the scary noises that make your body go into a paralyzed state and your heart knot up into a two-ton thumping cinder block? What’s more importantly true is that there is a certain sought-after soothingness in the songs and artists that I allow to sing me to sleep. Here are my decade spanning thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the matter.

Some artists have the “bedtime playlist” feel throughout their entire album. That makes it much easier on me. I will add the entire album to a playlist twice (I don’t want to have to get up if the album finishes and I have yet to drift off into sleepy land). My favorites in this category are Feist’s Metals, Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, and Youth Lagoon ‘s Year Of The Hibernation. And of course, also falling into this category is almost any album by Sigur Rós. I especially like them because sometimes I find myself singing along when I’m supposed to be trying to get to bed. Sigur Rós is the perfect solution to that, of course, due to the mostly incomprehensible language that spans their discography. Explosions In The Sky are also a solution thanks to their echoing riffs and of course, lack of lyrics.

Also regarding lyrics- it’s quite surprising how many songs actually reference the topic of sleep. It’s like they were made to help you slip into slumber. Carefully selected “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix opens with “Well, she’s walking through the clouds.” The way he sings it paints much better imagery than counting sheep. The Oh Hello’s also nail it with the opening line of the gentle finger-picking tune “Like The Dawn,” “I was sleeping in the garden when I saw you first.” My mind runs to all sorts of idyllic pictures on account of that line.

Some artists don’t have the nighttime vibe on their entire album, but might have a song or two that would fit. My Morning Jacket and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a great example of this. Spend a few minutes listening to Mr. Jim James and you’ll see that he can really tear it up (check out “Holdin’ On To Black Metal”). But, he can also sing to you (check out “I Will Sing You Songs.”) When you think of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Sacrilege” might start playing in your head and you’re like “No way are they going on my bedtime playlist!” But 2013’s Mosquito includes two versions of “Despair,” both studio and acoustic. When one can include Karen O, one should, and if you couldn’t guess, I suggest the acoustic version.

Sure, playing these playlists every night skews my iTunes top 25 most played (I like to know what I like), but it’s well worth it to me. Maybe the sound of a murderer creeping around your house doesn’t bother you, but to me ignorance is bliss when the blissful alternative is Zach Condon serenading me by way of his beautiful Balkan folk.


The opinions of Out On A Limb are of the writers’ and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of The Owl Mag.

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