Listen now on Bandcamp!
Inspired by a lifelong love/hate relationship with slumber, John Dog’s new track is a tale of mild insomnia told from the point of view of Sleep itself. “Trying and failing to get to sleep is a lonely business.” says Dog, “This song imagines that Sleep is on your side, rooting for you to make it over to unconsciousness.”
Sleep’s arrangement is a shameless homage to that beloved tirade against excessive wakefulness, The Beatles' I’m Only Sleeping. An all-time favourite of Dog’s, his passion for the song was perhaps skewed by the fulltime job he was in when he first heard the song in the 90s. “The Saturday morning lie-in was a BIG deal for a lazy kid who worked Monday to Friday,” he recalls. “Firing up Revolver and getting back into bed was my idea of heaven for a while there.”
With regard to the perhaps unusual POV of the lyric, Dog admits he can’t remember how he arrived at the notion that it should be Sleep singing. "Maybe when the phrase ‘surrender and rest in me’ popped up, I’m not sure.” He continues: “I was really just trying express that really annoying experience of lying there in the dark, tossing, turning with all kinds of nonsense running around your brain unchecked. Hopefully the notion of Sleep basically trying to knock someone out is a novel take on a common experience.”
In the short accompanying his new song, Sleep, Dog depicts insomnia as a spin on the old Good Angel/Bad Angel trope.
Compared to Dog’s previous videos, Sleep hews very close to the song. Whereas the clips for London Falling and Under The Bed told stories that were related to but different from the lyrics, the new short is pretty much a dramatisation of the song. Dog explains: “I could’ve gone super-dreamy and totally abstract I guess, but once I had the idea of two little tormentors on the headboard, angel/devil-style, it made sense to follow the song’s narrative.”
The video sees two demons - Sleep and Wake - appear on the headboard of an unknowing chump, one battling to knock him and the other to keep him awake for as long as possible.
“It was fun to visualise things like Wake literally shooting various anxieties – everyday worries, cringe moments from the past, global existential crises – at the sleeper’s head. Big and small concerns all roll around in there together when you can’t sleep, don’t they?”
“The imagery of sleep and dreaming may be the most notorious cliché minefield in history,” suggests Dog, “so, of course, I sprint right in there drunk and blindfolded. I love people who do dreams properly, like Cocteau, Fellini, or David Lynch, so I'll confess to trying to ape the masters a bit, sure."
Dog concludes: “High-minded cinema references aside, however, I feel I must strongly emphasise that this is just a very goofy, fun video for an oddball little song that I hope people get a kick out of.”