Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (1972)

20. 5th Dimension, "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All" (April 22, 1972, #8)

I chose this over the 5th Dimension's "One Less Bell to Answer," written by David/Bacharach, because even though I like them both, and for similar reasons (also "Wedding Bell Blues"), I had always heard this as taking the happier point of view on L-U-V love, recounting the experience of someone energized by a romance on the verge of blooming, even a little feverish maybe, and who, in the excitement of the moment, well, just can't sleep. Certainly that was my experience of hearing it, sleepless myself and hearing the bittersweet ache of it on oldies stations down the years and thinking about one girl or woman or another I liked and wondering if she liked me too. Come to pay attention more closely to the lyrics now and this appears to be something else, a story of a relationship already in place and perhaps in some trouble. But let's just set that aside. And while we're at it set aside the line about the sleeping pill too. Just let that slide. It's fair to call this Adult Contemporary—in fact, I think that's exactly the way to take their best stuff ("Stoned Soul Picnic" and the Hair thing are good too, but another bag). A song like this feels to me like getting right inside the skin of ordinary grown-ups—aka "regular folks," always a perilous place to go, but there you are, I'm going there—people with office jobs, too much responsibility, not enough money, more than their share of heartache. Ack, I'm making a mess of this. But I've been there, too often too much, and for a long time hearing this late at night offered the kind of comfort that only songs on the radio can provide, something that reaches out of the aether in the dark for you.

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