Let Me Sleep
At the time of its release as the first Ten Club Holiday Single, some Boston-area DJ who still had the wherewithal to set an honest-to-goodness needle to an honest-to-goodness record played “Let Me Sleep” over the airwaves some time during the holiday season. I don’t remember if I actually heard the song at that time, but news that it existed spread word-of-mouth, and I was made aware that Pearl Jam had written their own original Christmas song. Again, as a young ‘un, this fairly blew my mind. Bands could do that? I had no idea. In my increasingly angsty mind, I imagined that “Let me sleep / It’s Christmastime” translated to “Let me sleep through this sucky suckfest of a holiday”, but I’m not so sure anymore.
The music for “Let Me Sleep”, penned by Mike McCready, sounds to my ears closest to “Hummus” of all things, somewhat apropos as the Christmas story originates in the Middle East. The sound is distinctive, a swift rolling guitar figure backed by wood block percussion, and a nice little evocative lyric. The key line to me now is “Let me dream / It’s Christmastime”, not so much “I don’t want to be bothered”, but more “I want to return to the same kind of excitement and wonder I used to feel”. It’s neither cynical nor, God forbid, ironic, traits which every piece of music and art was supposed to boast according to the media at the time. It’s an earnest longing for innocence, a theme well established throughout the Pearl Jam catalog, holiday or no.