“Sandman” by America

This is a song with very ambiguous lyrics. The Sandman, as generally understood, is a mythical being who induces sleep. So with the addressee being depicted as “running from the… Sandman”, the logical implication would then be that said individual is doing what he or she can not to fall asleep.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for America's Sandman at Lyrics.org.

Some analysts have put forth that said sentiment is actually based on America’s interactions with Vietnam War vets, with said conflict still being in effect when this song was dropped. The Second Indochina War, as it is also called, was of course a very vicious battle in which all etiquette pertaining to humanely waging warfare was thrown out the window. As such, said soldiers were afraid to go to sleep, as the enemy could run up and snuff them up while they were caught unawares. So it is understandable how, under such circumstances, one would be compelled to ‘run from the Sandman’.

But that is not to say that the lyrics are discernibly based on such a narrative. It is generally alluded to in the second verse however that the narrator is ‘enlisted’. And whereas he does not expound on his reaction to being sent off to war, within the overall poetic context of the song, it can be ascertained that it is not something he’s looking forward to. Actually it appears he is even afraid of this.

In Conclusion

So conclusively, it can be speculated that when this track was dropped, given what was going on in the world and the state of the music industry at the time, listeners were likely able to pick up on what seems to be its anti-war sentiment. But in more recent times, with the first verse for example seemingly making no comprehensive sense in relation to the rest of the song and the lyrics being quite non-specific overall, hoping to truly understand this piece may require some study of its background.

Release Date of “Sandman”

“Sandman” is a song listed as track No. 2 on the album, “America” by the rock band, America. The song was released on the 26th of December, 1971.

Writing and Production Credits

The song was composed by band member Dewey Bunnell. It was jointly produced by Ian Samwell and Jeff Dexter.

Covers of “Sandman”

A notable remake of “Sandman” was released in 2008 by Tex Perkins & His Ladyboyz.

America’s “America’ Album

America’s self-titled album, “America” happens to be their debut studio album.

The aforementioned producers (Dexter and Samwell) have been credited with the album’s entire production.

American record label Warner Records is the record label through which the album was launched.

The album is responsible for two of the band’s biggest hit singles, “I Need You” and “Horse with No Name”.

“America” peaked at No. 1 in the United States, No. 3 in Australia and No. 14 in the United Kingdom.

The album’s commercial success earned it a platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States.

NOTE: “Sandman” wasn’t released as an official single from “America”.

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Two friends. One of them avoiding the draft running from Uncle Sam
    The other enlisted. Heading to Vietnam

  2. Alan says:

    Spot on.
    The Sandman is often a euphemism for a killer. Uncle Sam is the American “Eagle” always looking for the draft-dodger, to send him to war & maybe kill him. He is in the eye of the storm because the draft dodger feels outwardly safe & calm, maybe in Canada, but the ‘eagle-eyed’ one is close & could swoop down anytime.
    The other friend remained to be enlisted.
    They have a gap in their loyalties & relationship now that not only geographically but emotionally prevents them from ‘having that beer’ together.
    Being a Kiwi. I don’t have the cultural context but the instrumental parts seem reminiscent of Native American (Indian) rhythms. I wonder whether the Indian remained to be enlisted and the ‘colonist’ ran away ?
    Wonderfully ambiguous lyrics.

    • Bernard Douglas Cook says:

      Good analysis, having met Dewey in ’85 when they opened for the Beach Boys in Montgomery, AL of all places, where believe it or not they actually kicked off the tour, I can say he’s one of the nicest ppl I’ve ever met, very humble & down-to-earth, so going off that I’d say you’re pretty much on the money.

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