#26 – “Lazyhead And Sleepybones” (2002)

L.K.: Gotta go listen to this because I literally think I have only heard this song once; I’ve never listened to No! all the way through.
A.S.: Really?
L.K.: Yeah.
A.S.: Oh wow.
L.K.: The kids albums just… I mean, I’m not three years old, so I saw no reason to listen to them.
A.S.: No! is a bit better than that though.
L.K.: I think the only one where I’ve actually sat and listened to the whole album straight through was Here Comes Science.
A.S.: I’ve heard them all, although the first two Here Comes… albums were the last TMBG LPs I listened to.
L.K.: Yeah, because I mean, they’re probably the worst, definitely the worst if you’re not a toddler, even though a couple of songs on them are great.
A.S.: They’re not as bad as one might expect.
A.S.: Yes, there are a few great songs that are worth sitting through others to hear, none of which we’ve come across yet… So, I guess John Flansburgh said that this song was inspired by The Band, although I’m finding that to be a bit of a stretch.
L.K.: I will admit the only Band song I know is “The Weight”, so I will defer to your knowledge here.
A.S.: I’m no Band completist or anything, but the only song of theirs that I know of that in any way resembles “Lazyhead and Sleepybones” is “Whispering Pines”. It does sound like something, and I’d estimate it’s something from the early ’70s, some kind of soft rock thing, but I really don’t think it’s The Band.
L.K.: Yeah, something veeerrrry mellow.
A.S.: I can’t put my finger on what it is.
L.K.: “70’s folk-rock vibe.”
A.S.: Maybe later-era Band stuff sounds like this.
L.K.: All I know is it makes me want to fall asleep, which means it actually does work pretty well as something from a kids album. It serves an intended purpose beloved by parents of small children. And also twenty-somethings such as myself who are seemingly incapable of sleep otherwise.
A.S.: Agreed; not sure if it serves much of a purpose beyond that.
L.K.: So Dan Miller plays slide guitar on this.
A.S.: Yeah, the band provides a really pleasant background.
L.K.: Outside of this song and “She’s An Angel”, which John Flansburgh plays slide guitar on, are those the only TMBG songs that utilize that technique ?
A.S.: Good question.
L.K.: I can’t really think of any others because “mellow” isn’t exactly the Giants’ thing.
A.S.: I know “Charlottesville” in theory should, but I’m pretty sure it’s just Linnell’s keyboard on a pedal steel setting.
L.K.: Lyric-wise it’s a pretty standard example of how their children’s writing is a lot more straightforward than their usual stuff. Fun with synonyms here.
A.S.: Yeah, it’s difficult to review a song like this that is very much geared toward its target audience and doesn’t really have any other purpose or implication outside that, which they can avoid in their better children’s songs. But this is pretty clearly just meant to put kids to sleep.
L.K.: Aw, you make it sound like it’s such a bad song when you put it like that.
A.S.: I dunno, I’m not really fond of this one.
L.K.: There are better songs from the kids material but there are also far, far worse.
A.S.: The one great thing though is its placement on the album. Immediately following this is “Bed Bed Bed”, which completely undoes any sort of tranquility that may have been induced by “Lazyhead and Sleepybones”.
L.K.: Come on man, it’s better than “Bed Bed Bed” which has absolutely nothing going for it. Not as good as “Sleepwalkers” though.
A.S.: You really don’t like “Bed Bed Bed”?
L.K.: No, I don’t. It’s boring.
A.S.: I feel like our greatest disagreements happen over these fucking kids songs.
L.K.: Children’s music = controversial; nothing starts arguments like kids music. “Wake Up Call”, “I Am Not Your Broom”, “Clap Your Hands”, “Violin”, “In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle”, “Robot Parade” Come on, those are all lousy songs. What’s wrong with this one?
A.S.: It just doesn’t do anything for me. And I do like other versions of “Robot Parade” than what’s on the album.
L.K.: But you liked “Even Numbers” and that’s a terrible song! Okay, yeah, it looks like we’re only going to argue about kiddie stuff.
A.S.: I dunno, I don’t think “Lazyhead and Sleepybones” is a bad song, I just don’t think it’s a particularly good one. Maybe I’ll like it better once I figure out what the hell Flansburgh’s emulating with it.
L.K.: There are a bunch of bad songs on No!, I guess is what I’m saying. Though I appear to be the only person who likes “The Edison Museum” on the entire planet.
A.S.: No, I agree, I love “The Edison Museum”, although I kinda consider that to be a Long Tall Weekend track
L.K.: We’ll get to that track another day. Oh, “I Am A Grocery Bag”, that’s another dumb song off of No! Why does everybody like this album so much again?
A.S.: Dumb but great.
L.K.: Okay, yeah, it is dumb but great.
A.S.: It might also be that “Lazyhead and Sleepybones” is the longest track on the record, but that’s not saying that much either…
L.K.: It is long, but slow songs to zone out to have to be longer! 3:28 still isn’t long enough to fall asleep to.
A.S.: Funny you should mention that because last night, I was falling asleep listening to that new show on WRUW where the guy plays everything at the wrong speed, and he’s playing Radiohead’s “(Nice Dream)” 8x slower. And my perception of time was probably really off, but it couldn’t have been more than 3 and a half minutes until I fell asleep, judging from how little of Thom Yorke’s vocal part I remember hearing.
L.K.: I need to start listening to “Lazyhead And Sleepybones” at 1/4 speed to totally zone out to then. I zoned out enough at regular speed.
A.S.: There we go! That’s one way to make the song interesting and extremely effective. It just dawned on me that we’re actually illustrating the lyrics to this song pretty well.
L.K.: So which one of us is Lazyhead and which is Sleepybones? My air name on the radio is Lazybones, maybe I am an unfairly biased observer.
A.S.: And my second initial is “S”, so…
L.K.: Maybe I just enjoy the song as a lazy person.
A.S.: Nah, I’m pretty damn lazy too.
L.K.: It could just be as simple as that. When we get to our next “What We’ve Been Listening To” post I can elaborate more on stuff I’ve been zoning out to.
A.S.: For the most part, I just don’t care for slower music, and one of the appealing things about TMBG is that most of their stuff has a really unbridled energy about it. So, I appreciate and get “Lazyhead and Sleepybones” for it being a break in that, but it’s just not going to be one of my favorite songs. And unlike, say, “Microphone”, another slower TMBG song I really enjoy, there isn’t a build or anything that interesting harmonically going on here. It’s kind of the same reason why I dislike most post-rock; it’s very slow and drawn-out and not all that much happens. And again, its purpose of putting kids to sleep gives it a sort of unfortunate transparency that’s nicely lacking in most of their stuff. Unlike politicians, I don’t want my music to be transparent.
L.K.: And yet you like “Even Numbers”. Come on now.
A.S.: That one at least has a couple little motifs going on. I don’t even know if I really like “Even Numbers” more than “Lazyhead and Sleepybones”, but I definitely don’t abhor it the way you do.
L.K.: I have strong feelings about their kids music one way or another. My feelings about this song aren’t even that strong, but I feel like I have to defend it from the negative reactions of everyone else, particularly because there are so many other kids songs that everyone else loves that I despise. Slow stuff has to be either really beautiful or really calming for me to enjoy it, and I guess I don’t have the problem with this song that other people have because it does the “really calming” thing pretty well.
A.S.: I guess I’m just not too much into calming stuff, then. Maybe I’m just too tired to see.
2 Responses to “#26 – “Lazyhead And Sleepybones” (2002)”
  1. BoringRocks says:

    Hey, hey, hey. No! has a lot of great tracks. Sleepwalkers is actually one of my favorite songs of all time.

    With that said, this is definitely a song I don’t care for.

  2. Nathan says:

    I think some of the synonyms were pretty weak in this song. The general idea does fit in with lines like “he always wants to start when I want to begin,” though.

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