UPDATE: 8th Dec, 2021. This post has been edited from the previous posted version.
A “modern” enigma this song is for me. I have placed the word “modern” in quotation marks as the song is now almost 20 years old which for me brings it into the more recent Simple Minds bracket. Anything pre-2001 is “old” Minds. Anything post-2001 is modern Minds.
Usually I am happy for the ambiguity to remain with a Simple Minds track. I love that Jim’s lyrics are open to interpretation and that songs very obviously mean different things to different people, but we unite in the acknowledgement and agreement that this band is like no other for us.
I don’t want to get bogged down in the mire of what I think of the Cry album in general. Suffice it to say I think it rings very true to where the band found themselves at the turn of the millennium. Set adrift. To use an old adage “up shit creek without a paddle”. Cry is a metaphorical “life raft”. It helps them out but it doesn’t quite get them to shore – not for me personally anyway. It’s only my opinion and feeling, of course.
There are things that keep them afloat, for sure. For me, the absolute pinnacle of the album is Spaceface. I will never have a bad word said against that song. Ever! This song dragged me out of such dark places time and again.
Disconnected does a similar thing. It wasn’t a song I warmed to initially but that soon changed. And it is amazing how that can happen. But I think the days of a “change of heart” with a song are now gone. I like what I like now when it comes to Simple Minds’ output pretty solidly.
Recently I have grown tired of certain songs and they have been on a listening break for a while. In fact, dare I say the whole of Once Upon A Time is on a listening hiatus for me as I feel genuinely “overexposed” to it all now.
I also don’t listen to the whole Cry album because of my “prejudice”. This reminds me of my exchange with Jim about David Bowie’s Heathen album. I guess Cry is my Heathen, eh, Jim? From memory I think you said you liked “Everyone Says Hi” from Heathen, but little else? (I talk as if he is reading this. Lol. Sooooo deluded!) Well, I guess that’s me with Cry and Spaceface (and Disconnected and Sleeping Girl).
Back to Sleeping Girl itself and the ambiguity of the lyrics. On Dream Giver there is only an attempted transcript of lyrics as none have actually been published. I kind of like that Jim tends to not want his lyrics published. I understand the reason behind why he doesn’t – if he still holds firm in the belief and justification he had in them not being printed in early SM days “they go with the music”, ie: he felt to single them out by printing them would turn them into poetry and separate them from the music. That’s fair enough. But conversely, you write the lyrics because you love words. They ARE meant to mean something. Not just to be heard merely as music, with music. If so, then you might as well sing in “vocalise”. Jim’s feeling on this must have changed by the mid 1980s because we wouldn’t have the lyrics we have on Street Fighting Years if he didn’t want his lyrics to say something. To have meaning. For people to find a meaning and definition to them.
I like that Sleeping Girl is mystical. What exactly is going on in that song? What is this “violation” Jim talks about? Are we meant to interpret that observing a “sleeping girl” without her knowledge is therefore a “perverse” act and in turn a “violation”?
I had recently been in conversation with a friend about observing someone in sleep. The beauty of it. The beauty of the sleeper. We are at our most vulnerable during our sleep. I think that vulnerability plays on the waking mind a lot. I will be very open here about something that happened to me a lot during my teens and into my early 20s. I’m not sure how often these kind of dreams invade other womens sleep. It’s not something you find yourself discussing with your female friends. Well, I didn’t. One, I didn’t exactly have many friends. Two, how does one bring up this subject in conversation?
The vulnerability of sleep meant that in my teens and into my 20s I often dreamed of being raped. (EDIT)
These days I just look at it objectively and think I was a raging, hormonal, sex-starved Scorpio (all those astrology things you read about Scorpios – take it from me, they aren’t overexaggerating the whole “lust” thing with our zodiac sign).
Anyway! I digress, some…
“Sleeping girl / I wish you could tell / this violation
Sleeping girl / I want you to smile / confirmation”
Is that – “I want you to feel or sense that I am watching you while you’re sleeping, and I want you to let me know that you feel it”?
If so, then that’s goddamn fucking sexy!
Also if so then it is very much on a par with the conversation I had with my friend about watching someone as they sleep and the feeling of the perverse that it triggers. You can’t help but feel you are invading someone’s vulnerability.
Another friend I have spoken to more directly about the song in particular interprets the lyrics with a far more innocent view. I don’t know how they can view it quite so innocently given the language Jim uses in the lyrics. Perhaps it says as much about the dark recesses of my mind as it does about her more innocent interpretation? For I would hardly describe this friend as “innocent”, but perhaps a little more…restrained than myself when it comes to certain actions.
In summing up this overexposed Minds Music Monday, I find the song both musically and lyrically incredibly sexy. Vocally too. Those “Sprechstimme” lines Jim delivers as a kind of chorus – holy moly! *melts into a puddle*