The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite – Unraveling the Enigmatic Soundscape


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for R.E.M.'s The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. Interpreting the Sidewinder – More than Just a Desert Dweller
  5. Coin Slot Scratches – The Monotony of Modern Existence
  6. A Candid Barter with Authenticity
  7. Unpacking the Semiotic Labyrinth of Instant Soup and Dr. Seuss
  8. Unwinding the Coiled Heartbeats of the Human Psyche

Lyrics

This here is the place where I will be staying
There isn’t a number, you can call the pay phone
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time
If I don’t pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more, oh
If I don’t pick up, pick up
The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

There are scratches all around the coin slot
Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up
But this machine can only swallow money
You can’t lay a patch by computer design
It’s just a lot of stupid, stupid signs
Tell her
Tell her she can kiss my ass
Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
That way she’ll know that it’s really, really, really, really me

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

Baby, instant soup doesn’t really grab me
Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice
A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

The cat in the hat came back, wreaked a lot of havoc on the way
Always had a smile and a reason to pretend
But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream
The sidewinder sleeps on his back

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

We’ve got to boogie, boogie, move on this one

Full Lyrics

R.E.M.’s ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ is a track that slithers into the ears with its upbeat tempo, yet when it comes to deciphering its intent, the lyrics coil tightly like the song’s titular creature. The track, nestled within the band’s eighth album ‘Automatic for the People’, has long intrigued listening minds with its surreptitious blend of jangle pop euphony and poetic abstractions.

Beyond the infectious chorus and Michael Stipe’s distinctive vocal riddle lies a deeper well of nuance. While the casual listener is whisked away by melodic hooks, it’s the attentive ear that discerns the profound message blanketed beneath the semblance of whimsy. This exploration aims to unfurl the cryptic ribbons and examine the song’s enigmatic layers.

Interpreting the Sidewinder – More than Just a Desert Dweller

The sidewinder, a type of rattlesnake known for its unique sideways movement, becomes an allegorical puzzle piece in R.E.M.’s lyrical composition. As the snake sleeps ‘in a coil’, it symbolizes a dormant state of being—a metaphor for detachment and introspection. The recurring line to ‘call me when you try to wake her up’ echoes as a plea, a yearning for reconnection amidst self-imposed isolation.

This desert serpent could also represent the human desire to escape, to recoil from the chaotic hum of society. By comparing the sidewinder’s slumber to our own escapism, R.E.M. provokes a contemplation of whether we’re all just sleeping through life’s alarms, coiled away in our own disconnected realities.

Coin Slot Scratches – The Monotony of Modern Existence

The vivid imagery of ‘scratches all around the coin slot’ paints a picture of countless attempts to access something meaningful—like a heartbeat striving to awaken from a mechanized slumber. These lines lament the struggles and frustrations of breaking through the surface of a life increasingly dominated by technology, where genuine connection is as elusive as a meaningful outcome from a ‘machine [that] can only swallow money’.

This critique of modernity, where ‘stupid signs’ dictate actions, underscores an era where design often trumps human touch. In ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite,’ perhaps Stipe is signaling a call to arms to claw our way out of this coin-operated conformity, to find a way back to authentic communication and experience.

A Candid Barter with Authenticity

The song’s lyrical flounce veers into a moment of brazenness, ‘Tell her she can kiss my ass’, only to recoil with ‘you were only kidding’. It articulates the constant battle between sincerity and the facade we don in social interactions. In the veneer of jest lies a piercing truth, an invitation to discover ‘really, really, really, really me’—the raw self, often masked, seldom revealed.

This oscillation is indicative of the human condition; the polarity of our outward bravado and our inward vulnerabilities. ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ becomes a resonant anthem for the honest expression of our complex emotions, cloaked in the camouflage of wit.

Unpacking the Semiotic Labyrinth of Instant Soup and Dr. Seuss

Amid references to ‘instant soup’, ‘Nescafe’, and ‘Doctor Seuss’, the song weaves its idiosyncratic narrative, playfully taunting the listener’s grasp. This montage of pop culture and mundane choices parallels the search for substance in the midst of overwhelming banality. Stipe doesn’t just ask for coffee—he requires ‘some Nescafe and ice’, signifying the specific yet prosaic comforts we seek to fulfill our deeper cravings.

R.E.M.’s lyrical tapestry binds the simplicity of our daily consumption with the complexity of literary escapism indicated by ‘Doctor Seuss’. Here lies the paradox: our mundane desires intermingle with our need for whimsical narratives to make sense of our waking life, to ensure we don’t just sleep, but also dream.

Unwinding the Coiled Heartbeats of the Human Psyche

Sprinkled within the song are momentary revelations, like ‘I can always sleep standing up’, suggesting resilience in the face of adversity—our innate ability to rest, recover, and remain alert to life’s unpredictabilities. These sleepy motifs underscore a theme of persistence and serve as a subliminal nod to the enduring human spirit.

Through these refrains, ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ transmutes into more than mere music; it spirals into an auditory musing on our collective resilience. It is a lullaby for the soul that refuses to be lulled into complacence, a call to stir awake, to engage, and to move—a celebration of perseverance in the rhythm of existence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...