"When You Sleep" as written by and Kevin Shields....
When I look at you
Oh, I don't know what's real
Once in a while
And you make me laugh

And I'll see you tomorrow
And it won't be long
Once in a while
Then you take me down
Then you walk away

When you say 'I do'
Oh, I don't believe you
I can't forget it
No

When you sleep tomorrow
And it won't be long
Once in a while
When you make me smile
When you turn your long blond hair

When I look at you
Oh, I don't know what's real
Once in a while
And you make me laugh

And I'll sleep tomorrow
And it won't be long
Once in a while
Then you take me down
When you walk away


Lyrics submitted by BrownBabu84

"When You Sleep" as written by Kevin Shields

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

When You Sleep song meanings
Add your thoughts

37 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +5
    General CommentI think this song is about a person in a relationship who is overall dissatisfied with it.

    When I look at you
    Oh, I dont know what I feel
    Once in a while
    -He doesn't know what he feels. Is this relationship really a good one? He is undecided on whether he is happy or not.

    And you make me laugh
    -But, she makes him laugh. Every once in a while. So there's a bit of happiness in the relationship from that.

    And I'll sleep tomorrow
    And it won't be long
    Once in a while
    Then you take me down
    When you walk away(I think this should be "And you walk away")
    -Once in awhile, he'll think about not sleeping long so that he can see her as soon as possible. Then she takes him down (sex?) and she walks away, making him sad once more. But, every once in a while he gets this bit of happiness, too.

    When you say "I do"
    Oh, but I don't believe in you
    I can't forget it
    No...oooh
    -At the altar, maybe? Or after saying "Do you love me", she says I do. After all of the little happiness he gets in this relationship from her, of course he doesn't believe her. He can't forget how he doesn't believe her, either. Or, he can't forget all of the horrible things shes done in the relationship that make him not believe her "I do."


    When you sleep tomorrow
    And it won't be long
    Once in a while
    When you make me smile
    When you turn your long blonde hair
    -Once again, once in a while he hopes she won't sleep long so that he can see her as soon as possible. Once in a while she'll make him smile. And again she'll turn her long blonde hair to walk away from him again.

    That's just my $0.02 on the song.
    vlaricon July 09, 2007   Link
  • +5
    My OpinionI think it is about an imperfect relationship too. However i dont think he is 'unsure.'
    I think he knows he's in a relationship with problems, yet just rides them out.
    He puts up with it for reasons beyond him, and so when he looks at her not only is he unsure as to how he should feel towards her,
    but towards himself also in putting up with her as he once again stares into a face that he knows will turn and walk away.

    She's unaware of the damage she causes, despite being the one causing it - in his eyes anyway
    as he's the one 'looking' at her, we're not given her perspective.

    The wall of sound, the howling, repeptitive sequences and lyrics represent his 'riding it out' his repetitive, hollow routine with her, to sleep, see her, leave her, sleep and await to see her again. Always thinking about her, and always weighing the pros and cons in his head.

    I think he's afraid to lose her, he depends on her and uses the 'and you make me laugh' as a general image of fun with her -to convince himself that theres some good in her and the relationship, and that there's reason to stick with it.

    this is only my opinion x
    nohigginson May 10, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think this song is exactly the opposite as "watching a girl and knowing the next day you won't be alone." I do think it is a naive love song though. He seems to be upset with the fact that this girl means so much to him yet he knows that it will end because they are young and stupid. Look at the lyric
    Then you take me down
    When you walk away
    When you say "I do"
    Oh, but I don't believe in you
    It seems to me that this is actually a really sad song and it deals with his fear of losing this girl, yet he is caught up in the moment and thinks about the girl all the time.
    negativeapproach88on April 05, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI spewed my pants the first time I heard this one!!! Well...mabey not. But this is a beautiful song.
    Kaguthon May 06, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is love, for me.

    The turbulence of excitement, anxiety, longing, lust, fear, indulgence, and being alive. The human condition, especially love, is indistinct, imperfect, and unrelenting.

    Kevin and Belinda sound like they are physically entangled, staring into each others' eyes when they sing this. Listening to When You Sleep feels like free falling through a hurricane.
    lastdinosauron November 22, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think this song is about being in loved with someone but only having the love of that person in your dreams, because in real life it cant happen

    When I look at you
    Oh, I dont know what I feel
    Once in a while
    And you make me laugh
    -when she looks at her while hes awake, he doesn't know if he feels happy to see her or sad because she cant (or doesn't want to) be with him, every once in a while they have a laugh together as friends


    And I'll sleep tomorrow
    And it won't be long
    Once in a while
    Then you take me down
    When you walk away
    -and he will fall asleep at night, and it wont pass much time for him to start dreaming about her, (i think that once in a while here actually means always), he dreams that they are having sex, i suppose, and then she get up and leaves and he wakes up


    When you say "I do"
    Oh, but I don't believe in you
    I can't forget it
    No...oooh
    -he is now dreaming awake, he dreams she says yes to him and that she wants to be with him, he asks her "do you love me? and she answers "yes" but then reality kicks in and he knows its not true, yet he cant forget about her, no...oooh he cant


    When you sleep tomorrow
    And it won't be long
    Once in a while
    When you make me smile
    When you turn your long blonde hair
    -and when "you" (hes talking to himself like saying "and here it goes again") he will dream of her, all the time, and he will smile like hes hypnotized, when she turns her long blonde hair


    a song about how living reality is sometimes so painful, that you can only be happy in your dreams... so sad, yet so beautiful
    heartgranadeon July 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song makes me think of the times I've been lying next to a girl I loved, happily watching her and knowing that the next day I won't be alone. A sweet, naive love song.
    squaresunon August 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentone of my favourite mbv songs, ever.
    ;_; and i think even more so because it reminds me of all the people i've liked and loved... and always, at the back of my head, knowing that the feelings are unreciprocated and won't progress beyond a certain point. or not knowing how to feel about someone, because you're so in love with them that even when they do things that have crushed you... you still keep on loving.
    seamoraineon April 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe structure and execution of this song has such a gripping honesty to it.

    it feels so perfectly subjective. perfectly objective.
    it makes me feel omniscient.
    makes me wish i were in love.
    jaci_ohon October 11, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentis it just me who swears the song starts:

    When I look at you
    Oh, I dont know what's real

    this gives it a really existential and/or trippy vibe, and sounds much more interesting/appropriate than "oh, i don't know what i feel".

    this or To Here Knows When is my fave off of loveless.. just sublime.
    AllynTon September 28, 2008   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain