Week 404: “Floating” by Jesse Brown

You know that feeling of floating between wakefulness and sleep? Of realizing that the thought you just had makes absolutely no sense?

I’ve been experiencing that a fair bit recently. My 3-year-old’s current favourite thing is to ask, at bedtime, for an ‘invented story’ rather than reading one from a book.

He gives me the setting (usually a non-existent museum) and the characters (typically the same three friends from school and one kid he barely knows but seems strangely fixated on) and then the rest is up to me. It’s a fun challenge, and I truly love it.

The problem is that lying there in the dark after a long day…well, you can guess which one of us gets sleepy first. I’ll be in the middle of recounting a harrowing adventure at the train museum when it becomes suddenly, disturbingly apparent that either I’ve stopped talking for a while, or I’ve just said something that makes no sense. My son is very polite about it, and is never picky enough to ask why my story involves an alligator making oatmeal when it was supposed to be about Thomas the Tank Engine.

But it is interesting to feel like the bottom is suddenly falling out of reality like that.

It’s this floaty state of mind that is captured in this song, a beautiful, dreamy gem by Canadian pianist Jesse Brown.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The chords take unexpected left turns – chromatic steps down or quick switches from minor to major – like dreams within dreams.

2. There’s a really subtle, quiet synth noise in there starting at 0:37. Kind of like the background noise in your house that ends up appearing in your dreams somehow.

3. The end is undramatic. A quick chord in the right hand, like a sudden opening of eyelids. Just like that, the song’s over. One moment you’re dreaming about having tea with Yann Tiersen, the next moment you’re realizing that your toddler is asleep, and it’s time to tip-toe out of the room.

Recommended listening activity:

Being under the covers in daytime clothes.

Buy it here.