I write this across from my sister, who has recently endured an evil encounter with a giant razorback catfish hovering in the shallows of Long Lake. She is trying to fall asleep with her iPod earbuds in, listening to… Coldplay.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, either musically or commercially. Coldplay, after all, were voted “band most likely to put you to sleep” by a British Travelodge poll, which had all the esoteric music sluts howling with schadenfreude. But it occurred to me that this is the mad genius behind Coldplay: Music you can sleep to.
I was exposed to the music-during-sleep phenomena in my early teens at James “Wiley” McMullen’s home. There, in Wiley-ality, we were fully expected to fall and remain asleep either to constant radio, TV, or video game interference, or to some godawful combination of the three. Pure insanity reigned. But it had a way of driving the party onward to that next two-liter of Mountain Dew and that yet-to-be-reached level of Megaman X. And for all the times I’ve woken up drunk amid the rotten morning-afters of my twenties, none could match the dissolute chaos that prevailed after a caffeinated orgy of high fructose corn syrup, chips and flashing videogames from my early teens. It’s a wonder we aren’t all epileptic.
Now, there were different levels of nocturnal exposure. Sometimes, it was just a DVD menu, with the theme song on repeat, and other times, a tape of old sitcoms we’d seen before. Still other times, an amplifier was all that was left on and hissing in the darkness. Invariably, after a couple hours of real sleep, the parents lumbered downstairs, flicked on both a gurgling pot of coffee and Regis Philbin, who sounded like a mutant on crank as near as we could tell at eight o’clock on a Saturday fucking morning.
Such were the sleeping conditions at the home of James “Wiley” McMullen. But I remember with pleasure those first overnights, sleeping under a musty afghan in a rickety barcalounger, in limbo between sleeping and waking. I remember being drawn to those overnights, like a moth to light.
And in a sense we were moths. We needed that light. We needed to wake up and see Joey from Friends going “how you doin?” at that dark and lonely hour when your friends slept, but you couldn’t. It was comforting. Plus, it lit the way to the bathroom.
Subconsciously, I’m sure we kept the TV on to avoid feeling alone. Think of whenever you were young andy you were put to bed early—for not eating your supper or something—and it would still be light out, though mom had pulled the blinds to. And you could hear from the other side of the wall the muffled voices of your parents. You’d wonder what they were saying while you felt horribly alone.
So I find it more of a compliment to Coldplay that they are the best band to fall asleep to. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure they’re polite bedfellows.