Sleeping Bag
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

Versions:
  1. Sleeping Bag (2:13)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Slide), Producer, Vocals
    Chris Ballew: Guitar (Slide)
    Calvin Johnson: Producer
Live Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Title Unknown, Sleeping Bag (3:00)
    Available on Yo Yo A Go Go.
 
 
Lyrics:
Sleeping Bag [Version (a)]:

Open up the door, lay the orange juice on the floor
They're having a picnic on the other side of town
There's sleeping bags on fire and it's getting down to the wire
So grab yourself a spot and settle down awhile
'Cause it's getting hard to think and my clothes are starting to shrink
And the moon is sagging down like a metal ball
And the world is a holiday smoking in an old ashtray
They just blow it out their nose and say "okay"
So let's try to make it last, the past is still the past
And tomorrow is just another crazy scam
Title Unknown, Sleeping Bag [Live version (a)]:

?????

Open up the door, lay the water on the floor
They're having a picnic on the other side of town
And there's sleeping bags and there's fire and it's getting down to the wire
So grab yourself a spot and settle down for awhile
'Cause it's getting hard to think and the moon is starting to sink
And my body is laying low in a silvery light
So the world is a holiday smoking in an old ashtray
They just blow it out their nose and say "okay"
So let's try to make it last, the past is still the past
And tomorrow is just another crazy day
 
The Song:

"Sleeping Bag" is to me one of Beck's more underrated classics, a highlight of his early material. It can be found on his 1994 record, One Foot In The Grave.

The song is a beautiful blues, and Beck's K Records band provide lovely backing to one of Beck's best blues melodies. The song probably could have easily gone in any direction (acoustic like "Cyanide Breathmint" or fast like "Burnt Orange Peel") but the lazy groove really enhances the song. They nailed it. The band is hardly virtuosic on this song, but are still killing it, especially the dueling lead electric guitars.

The lyrics to "Sleeping Bag" are not perfect either, but it is still quite an expressive song. It helps that the music and melody fit together so well like this: evocative, emotional, impressionistic. Beck's "whatever" attitude is what makes the song: "The sleeping bag's on fire and it's getting down to the wire," but don't sweat it, "grab yourself a spot and settle down awhile."

The live version of the song released on the Yo Yo A Go Go cd is from the Yo Yo A Go Go festival in Washington Beck played in 1995. The first bit of the song "Title Unknown" is a short burst of punk energy, with Beck shouting something completely indiscernible. It quickly mellows into "Sleeping Bag."
 
Live:

Played live 26 times:
Earliest known live version: March 30, 1994
Latest known live version: November 22, 2003

Beck plays a folkier arrangement of "Sleeping Bag" during his concert on March 30 1994. It's got acoustic guitar, and Chris Ballew plays some slide guitar over it. The melody is much the same, it's just not as warped. Beck changes a couple of lines—instead of having a picnic, it's "They're having a baby in the backseat of the car" and his brain is starting to shrink, not his clothes. Unfortunately the recording sort of fades out, because it is certainly the highlight of the show that night.

Another recording from December 1 1994 shows yet another direction "Sleeping Bag" could have taken musically. Tonight, it is a sort of loungey blues. The bass and drums play a slow, swinging rhythm. It's hard to make out Ballew's slide guitar, but it is there. The best part of the song comes after all the lyrics are sung when Beck drops a wonderful guitar solo into it. He has a quirky style all his own when it comes to guitar solos, and this one is great.

Later the next year, Beck performs "Sleeping Bag" alone with just guitar and harmonica on October 28 1995 at the Bridge School Concert. It's a mesmerizing performance—especially Beck's vocals—though I think I prefer the bluesier slide guitar versions of previous. He does switch up a number of the lyrics. The first line has "troubles" instead of "orange juice" being laid on the floor. He ends the song humming.

The March 18 1996 version is another great one. "Sleeping Bag" is one of the best songs Beck has, especially on stage—he can perform it so many ways. Many of the changed lyrics are the same as from previous live versions ("troubles," "moon starting to shrink"), except for the end, when he kisses up to the crowd in Tilburg, Holland: "And tomorrow is just another Tilburg night."

Beck introduced "Sleeping Bag" as a "lullaby—it'll put you all to sleep" on February 13 1997. He had fun singing it, building up his falsetto on the "blow it out your nose" line. After singing the last line, he segued right into "Waitin' For A Train":
Well they dropped me off in Texas, a state I dearly love
The moon and stars all around and the dust blowing up above
Well I haven't got a nickel, not a penny can I show
A person a thousand miles away from home, waitin' for a ride
The song still continues to pop up every once in a sinking silvery moon. A personal favorite is from February 11 2000, which is not electric like the record, but on acoustic guitar. Very cool performance.

On August 16 2002, a fan shouted out for "Sleeping Bag" during a between-song moment. Beck immediately began singing it. His guitar was in his lap, but he left the song a cappella, singing all the lyrics.
 
Live - The Last Line!

October 25, 1995: "And tomorrow is just another crazy scam / Climbing around up into the rafters / Scraping the stars from god's ass / and you look like a janitor wrapped up in fur / Swinging a bat / Cutting up a rug / So load up your barrel and wagon / Head right out of town / I'll give you a quarter / Keep my judgments to myself"

September 12 & October 28, 1995: "And tomorrow is just another shady lane."

January 5, 1996: "And tomorrow is just another wooden leg." [Ha!]

March 18, 1996: "And tomorrow is just another Tilburg night." [He's in Tilburg, Holland.]

March 21, 1996: "And tomorrow is just another cancelled check."

June 17, 1996: "And tomorrow is just another Red Rocks night." (Beck was making fun of a John Tesh at Red Rocks show he saw on TV.)

November 29, 1996: "And tomorrow is just another broken microphone!" [One broke earlier in the show.]

February 11, 2000: "And tomorrow is just another wasted laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay." [Or something.]

August 16, 2002: "And tomorrow is just another broken revelry."