Trying to Sleep on Half a Song

Back in July, 2011, I published two posts entitled “Bits and Pieces I and II. They dealt with the difficulties that I face when I have only a piece of something I’m trying to remember.

This posting is amplification on that idea. What happens if it is bedtime when you can’t complete the remainder of your half-remembered bit?  Recently, late one evening, just before bedtime, I started humming the tune of a Billy Joel song.  I had the melody down pat, but I could only remember the lyrics to 4 or 5 lines. I knew that those lines were not adjacent and I couldn’t fill-in the missing lines. It was too late for me to turn my computer back on. My wife, who  is my caregiver, knows if I get started on something on the computer, it is almost impossible for me to stop it, whether it is for dinner or bed. I had already stretched my allowed computer time well beyond its limit for the  evening. So I went to bed humming the tune and singing to myself the few lines that I knew (or thought I knew.) I had to go to bed with a half remembered song. It took me longer to fall asleep that night because my brain was engaged in this project of a half-remembered song that I had given it.

I find it amazing how our brain works, because in the morning I knew one line more of the song than when I went to bed and that one line contained the hint that I needed to remember the title of the song. The new line I remembered was “I go walking in my sleep.” So of course, the song was “River of Dreams” Right after breakfast, I started looking for the lyrics  to River of Dreams.” The lyrics of the first verse were the ones I was searching for:

 In the middle of the night

I go walking in my sleep

From the mountains of faith

To the River so Deep

I must be looking for something

Something sacred I lost

But the river is wide

And it’s too hard to cross

Even though I know the river is wide

I walk down every evening and stand on the shore

I try to cross to the opposite side

So I can finally find what I’ve been looking for

         Billy Joel makes no pretense that this is a Christian song. One of the later verses expresses his spiritual position. In spite of this, I am drawn to this song. It has a
haunting melody and communicates the depth of soul of an individual who is searching:

 I’m not sure about a life after this

God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man

Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river

That is runnin’ through the promised land

Having found the lost lyrics, I was able to sing the song to myself all day long. That evening, soon after dinner time, there was a TV special featuring the Cathedrals quartet performing one of their signature songs, which was written by Bill Gaither, “Trying to Get a Glimpse”.The lyrics to the chorus and the last verse express some of the same longings that Billy Joel expresses. I believe that Bill Gaither is trying to say that even though we know that there is a heaven, it is natural for us to want to see and know what’s on the other side:

(Chorus)

Standing by the river, Gazing cross the raging tide

Standing by the river, trying to get a glimpse

Of what’s over on the other side, other side

(Verse)

Well I was standing on the banks

When I saw that ol’ ship take my momma home

I was standing on the banks when daddy

Crossed the river and left me all alone

Now I’m standing on the banks

Just waiting for my ride to heaven’s golden shore

And I’m trying to get a glimpse of what’s over on the
other side.

I went to bed that second night singing the lyrics to Gaither’s “Tryingto Get a Glimpse”. I fell asleep more easily and faster this second night, and woke up singing both songs.Since this episode, I have created cheat sheets that have the lyrics to both songs, and I have been able to sing them any time I desire, and I’ve had no nights of fitful sleep at least over these two songs.

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About By Baylis β2

Ph.D. in mathematics; 40 years as an instructor and administrator in Christiian colleges & Universities; principle writer & initial director of critically acclaimed assessment project "Taking Values Seriously:Assessing the Mission of Church-Related Collges." Currently medically retired on disability due to traumatic brain episode which began with a blood vessel in a brain tumor exploding in March 2009, causing the tumor to implode creating many stroke-like symptoms; the remains of the benign tumor removed in March 2009 followed by many months of intenesive therapy that shifted gears when 4 tonic-clonic seizures in December 2009 left me unconscious in the hospitable for four days. I am now diagnosed with aphasia, epilepsy, Atrial Fibrillation, and the beginning stages of Parkinson's. Since I can't work a normal job in higher education, I spend my days reading, thinking and writing about higher education, epilespsy and aphasia. I have a blog, entitled By' Musings, in which I speak about topics of great interest to me: aphasia, epilesy, Parkinson's, higher education and religion. This blog canl be accessed through the URL of which is included in this profile.
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2 Responses to Trying to Sleep on Half a Song

  1. I find it fun and ironic you were attempting to find words and name a song about dreams while it was causing sleep and your own dreams to be elusive. 🙂 I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for you. Yet I am pleased, as your brain rested, you were able to discover the missing words that named the song.

    I wish to you peaceful sleep and many happy melodies!

    Tara

  2. Thank you,

    It really is ironic, amazing, and truly unexplainable how our brains work. The more I studied about learning, the more i learned that our conscious learning consists of taking in ideas, concepts or observations and linking them with ideas, concepts and observations that we have stored away. OOPS, I almost fell into the trap that I accuse many of my fellow brothers in the academy of falling into. I forgot two very large areas of learning–skills and values
    This most recent incident is not the first time that i have discovered that our brains do not necessarily shut off while we re sleeping, and I’m not just talking about dreams. Several times recently, I have found myself stuck on a crossword puzzle or a suduko, and I have to quit and go to bed. What’s been amazing is when I wake up in the morning without really doing anymore additional thinking about the puzzle, I’ve been able to immediately write down the solution to the puzzles.
    One phrase in your comment about elusive dreams was like an Asian carp jumping into my boat. I knew there was a song that included elusive dreams. I had to search for it, but I finally find it. It was the song sung by Glen Cambell, “Elusinve Butterfly of Love.” with the following lyrics:

    You might wake up some morning
    To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
    And if you’re quick enough to rise
    You’ll catch the fleeting glimpse of someone’s fading shadow
    Out on the new horizon you may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
    And if the sleep has left your ears
    You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow
    Don’t be concerned it will not harm you
    It’s only me pursuing something I’m not sure of
    Across my dreams with nets of wonder I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love

    You might have heard my footsteps
    Echo softly in the distance through the canyons of your mind
    I might have even called your name as I ran searching after something to believe in You might have seen me runnin’
    Through the long abandonned ruins of the dreams you left behind
    If you remember something there
    That glided past you followed close by heavy breathing
    Don’t be concerned it will not harm you
    It’s only me pursuing something I’m not sure of
    Across my dreams with nets of wonder I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love
    I chase the bright butterfly of love I chase the bright butterfly of love
    Bu-bu-bu-butterfly of love bu-bu-bu-butterfly of love

    As I read and reread these lyrics, I find ideas that I believe will produce other ideas. The picture that is most vivid right now in hte phrase “the canyons of your mind.” I think there will be a lot to play with in that phrase. Stay turned for more to follow.

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