SONG: Sleep to Remember, Stay Awake to Forget

SONG:

“Sleep to Remember, Stay Awake to Forget” [Download]
.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Scientific American, 18 November 2019, “Deeper Insights Emerge into How Memories Form,” as used in the post “Learning where memories are born.

ABSTRACT:
A late song, but one of the better ones I’ve done as long as this project has been going on. I had the guitars down well before deadline, and the end of the chorus, but the rest of it took some time to fall into place.

In other words, I knew I wanted to write a song about staying awake, about insomnia, my old friend, and its relationship to memory loss, my longtime adversary. Maybe it’s a symptom of my generation that I find oblivion poetic. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older (every second of every day).

Most of what I was doing during the extra couple weeks – besides driving for 10 hours to spend time with little-seen loved ones for a few days – was taking the kinds of words I usually love, things like “myelin” and “neurons” and “glial” out of the lyric. It’s just a country song, really. The spirit of the thing, I drew from Greg Brown’s “O Lord, I have made you a place in my heart,” one of the darkest songs I know. It’s a sweet country song on its face, but once you hear what it’s about….

So this is about the lonely hours, and being ok with blotting out sections of your past as if they never were, by keeping those glial cells from carrying out their little neurological destinies. I’m sure there are dozens if not hundreds of similar songs about using organic solvents like ethyl alcohol to rid oneself of unpleasant brain processes. Not sure if there’s one about seeking sleeplessness, or the other half of this equation – creating and experiencing one’s happiest memories when one isn’t even awake to enjoy them.

And that’s how we’re put together. Ain’t that a thing?

It’s a good song.

LYRICS:

Hello, midnight hope it’s alright
to see you again

Excuse all the piles & what’s left of the smiles
We shared way back when

CH:
(D-D-C-G)
I can’t say I’m bothered
To have some things fade
(D-D-Em-G)
In the back of my mind
At the end of the day
(D-D-C-G)
We’ve all seen enough
To have things we regret
(C-C-C-C-G-G-G-G)
I sleep to remember
And stay awake to forget.

Hello, celling the sound of my breathing
Still rises and falls

Why should I be haunted by things I once wanted
By dreams I recall

CH:
(D-D-C-G)
I can’t say I’m bothered
By what I don’t retain
(D-D-Em-G)
Let something else seal up
These holes in my brain
(D-D-C-G)
We’ve all seen enough
To have things we regret
(C-C-C-C-G-G-G-G)
I sleep to remember
And stay awake to forget.

Hello, sunrise I wouldn’t think these eyes
would greet you once more

Too much sensation left cracked insulation
Where my wires ran before

CH:
(D-D-C-G)
So tonight, I’ll embrace
The passing of time
(D-D-Em-G)
Light up some new sites*
In the back of my mind
(D-D-C-G)
All of my thinking
Hasn’t changed a thing yet
(C-C-C-C-G-G-G-G)
I sleep to remember
And stay awake to forget.

*(note: this word is intended to be ambiguous; “sights” would also be an accurate transcription.)