It begins with a blessing
And it ends with a curse;
Making life easy,
By making it worse;
My mask is my Master,

The trumpeter weeps,
But his voice is so weak
As he speaks from his sleep, saying
Why, why, why, why are we sleeping!

People are watching,
People who stare;
Waiting for something
That's already there.

Tomorrow I'll find it ,
The trumpeter screams,
And remembers he's hungry
And drowns in his dreams, saying
Why, why, why, why are we sleeping!

My head is a nightclub
With glasses and wine;
The customers dancing
Or just making time;

While David is cursing
The customers scream!
Now everyone's shouting,
"Get out of my dreams!"

Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings

Why Are We Sleeping? Lyrics as written by Michael Roland Ratledge Kevin Cawley Ayers

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Why Are We Sleeping? song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentA psychedelic song with some philosophy behind it. It's all about G.I.Gurdjieff's idea that people ordinarily live in a state referred to as "waking sleep", while higher levels of being are possible.

    Kevin explains, in a French interview from 1970:
    "It is important to have ideas in order to be awaken, that's all. Because if you don't have ideas, you sleep. If you sleep, you're dead" 

    Kevin would later call Gurdjieff "The person who woke me up"

    So you, reading this now or listening to Mike Ratledge's heavy organ, are you you're not asleep?
    Camel fanon April 09, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat's fascinating. I have long thought Why Are We Sleeping the most interesting and prophetic of song lyrics - in the first two lines Ayers describes the trajectory the whole world is on with industrial growth, mass extinction and climate change. Idries Shah described the same thing from Sufi terminology as 'heedlessness.' But Gurdjieff's 'terror of the situation' attributed to a general waking sleep applies to all human problems and is now playing out environmentally. The diagnosis is correct, but sadly the prescribed remedy appears unobtainable.

    Strangely, the music to 'Why Are We Sleeping' is could hardly be simpler or more obvious. As the lyrics progress they also descend into banality. From 'waiting for something that's already there' (a reference to Beckett and Eliot's Little Giddings) we get 'My head is a nightclub'. Robert Wyatt picked up on the literary reference to Beckett in his love song to Ayers, 'As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still'.

    Ayers left Soft Machine because he didn't like the self-indulgent direction the music was taking, or that's what he told me. He probably should have stayed. The music did get very self-indulgent after the peak of Soft Machine 2, and the lyric content shrank to nil after Wyatt's ejection. Despite its flaws, Ayers' achievement in Why Are We Sleeping remains unsurpassed.

    Mont Campbell
    dirk102390on November 16, 2017   Link

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