On the last day of National Sleep Month, we wanted to do something a little different. We’re looking at the art of sleeping well — true creativity around getting a good night’s rest. Putting together this quick and happy list was a lot of fun.
In Part I, we look at two quartets of some of our favorite musical compositions to lull. They’re just the tip of the iceberg, we know, of what the tonal world has to offer to take you to your own personal “dream” world, but at least it’s a start.
Songs to drift away to
There is music to float to dreamland and then you add beautiful voices and sinuous words, and you’re transported… or, at least, we are. Make no mistake, these may be songs that seem to be for kids, but they do the trick just as well for us grown-ups. Let’s start there, shall we?
Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) by The Dixie Chicks
Natalie Maines’ voice creates something wonderfully lush and comforting in this song. It really does make you feel cradled in someone’s arms. The Dixie Chicks keep on ticking, fortunately, and this gorgeous tune with the simple strum of its wonderful guitar mixed with Martie Maguire’s lilting violin will forever be that puff of warm love that takes us away.
Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins (with Amy Grant)
Before you say anything like, “Hey, this is originally House at Pooh Corner by Loggins & Messina,” or “Amy Grant?!? What the…?” Hear us out. Return to Pooh Corner is a rendition of the original, which we also love. A version Kenny Loggins recorded with Amy Grant just takes it to the next level of whimsy and charm. Close your eyes, check it out and return to The Hundred Acre Wood for a long, blustery nap.
Dream a Little Dream of Me by the Mamas & The Papas
Mama Cass’ voice is so pure in its loveliness that it truly transports you to every single tableau the song hopes for you. From the first moment you hear the song begin, you can sense this is no psychedelic 60s moment or a meaningful folk tune. It’s straightforward in its beauty and ability to wrap you in delicious calm. That voice… just… grab a sit under a shade tree, close your eyes, listen and “Dream a little dream.”
Strawberry Letter 23 by The Brothers Johnson
You hear those first tinklings followed by, “Ooh-oohooh-ooh-oohOOH,” continuing one more time. Fade out then the beat kicks in, the guitar joins the bells of the synth and you hear, “Hello, my love, I heard a kiss from you…” HEARD a KISS? What?!? By that time you feel yourself roll with it and drift away with Thunder Thumbs and Lightnin Licks regaling you about the joys of Strawberry Letter 22. Yeah, the song title says “23” but the lyric says “22.” Don’t think too much about it. Just go with it. We do.
If you’re a kid who was dragged to the symphony, you may have naturally fallen asleep from boredom. For us here — okay, most of us — live orchestral performances moved us beyond words. These suggestions, however, are ones that we’ve discovered will send pretty much anyone into a delicious snooze simply by caressing our ears and being a warm blanket for our senses.
Claire de Lune by Claude DebussyObvious, we know, but let’s get real — this is a glorious, soothing and romantic piece that continues to bring us relaxing, calm joy every single time. It breathes, glides, fills us with the possibility of falling in love and, yet, it sends us into slumber with ease and no regret. We know some people find Debussy too “syrupy,” but the one we’ve chosen to share with you is unique — special, even. It’s not piano but guitar. And we find it gloriously full of… okay, we’ll just say it — passion and romance.. Ah… besotted bliss.
Sleep by Max RichterIt’s not a surprise we’ve added it here because we’ve talked about it before — and the fact we’re bummed we missed out when it was performed in our town. This symphony is truly a masterpiece of sleep, dream and wake. Max Richter has created something wholly unique and to experience the entire thing is transplendent. Start with Dream 1 then see where else it takes you. Live or digitally, it is “rest” at its finest.
Nocturne Op. 9 by ChopinThe masters rule. Sorry, but they do. This piece, like Debussy, is probably expected and we’re cool with that. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? We love how rhythmic and yet so wonderfully melodic this is. Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 has the feeling of a conversation, a back-and-forth of slow delight. You find yourself being drawn into it, flowing with it, until you suddenly realize your eyes are closing and you… zzzzz… Nice.
Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie
He was buddies with Debussy. You can hear it in his music but what a gift. Erik Satie didn’t like to call himself a “musician” because he had been given grief for NOT being much of a technician. Satie influenced what would be known as the “theatre of the absurd,” and was a true renaissance man long after that time had passed. He wrote, he drew, he made music and this wonderful composition — of which there are three movements — may seem somewhat melancholy, but it has a richness that we consider welcoming. It touches our slumbering heart every time.
A feeling of ease
This is our music, these are our songs. Oh, we have others, of course, that take us down roads of long, sinuous warmth that create incredible memories. Simon & Garfunkel’s For Emily Whenever I May Find Her, Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You, or even Bill Evans’ Peace of Piece — we listen to each of them and we take flight into rest, relaxation and divine calm.
Next week, we’ll look at the words that send us into our dreams. For now?
Rest easy… rest well.