It took me forever to fall asleep last night because I had the song “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks stuck in my head for about two hours. It has easily been ten years since I’ve heard that song and it bothers me that something can suddenly pop back into your head long after you’ve pretty much forgotten that it ever existed. I spent the first fitful hour repeating the same two lines over and over again and nearly convincing myself that is was worth getting out of bed to look up the names of each individual Dixie Chick so as to better plot their murders. The second hour was consumed with trying to trace the thread of my day, week, month back to the moment when this insipid song entered my subconscious and chose to lie in wait for this one optimal time of pure torture. It’s not even a song that I enjoy, from a band I hardly ever listened to, in a genre of music that could disappear entirely and I doubt I’d even notice its absence.
How do things like this happen? What kind of world is this where I can turn out the light after a long weekend, desperate for the softness of my pillow and the pleasant relief of some much needed sleep, only to have my head ache and pound for hours as lines like “closer to heaven above and closer to you,” bounce against the inside of my skull with no obvious genesis or direction? I’m not saying I’m this great person who should one day be unquestionably venerated like a saint, but don’t I deserve better than this? Aren’t I good enough, hardworking enough, don’t I care enough about the general wellbeing of others that I should be exempted from the hideous cruelty of “Cowboy Take Me Away” ringing through my head at one in the morning? Yes, I’ll admit that I turned to my husband several times throughout the night, saw him sleeping soundly and without hesitation thought, “I hate this man.” Those were not my best moments. Those were thoughts that are perhaps deserving of death by Dixie Chicks refrain, but you have to understand how maddening this was, how worrisome and terrifying an ordeal it had become. What if “Cowboy Take Me Away” was some kind of Dixie Chicks Pandora’s Box? What if I was opening my mind to the chaos of two or three lines from an entire catalogue of Dixie Chicks songs that I could just barely remember from my youth? What if this wasn’t just some horrible infliction that I would suffer for one night only, and wake the next morning wired and restless but mercifully released from the horrid grasp of twangy country vocals? What if this was my life?
I pride myself on being a fighter. On my ability to face the world and shout “fuck you” with my shoulders back and my voice strong and determined, before racing off to cry in the privacy of my bathroom with the shower running to cover the sound of my sobs. If people remember only one thing about me, let it be that I did not go gentle into that good night. No sir. It might have been three on one, but I was not going to let these Chicks of the Dixie defeat me. If I could not rid my head of their incessant song, I would simply have to drown it out. I would fill my mind with so much music that space would be a commodity so rare that even the Dixie Chicks with their platinum records and millions of dollars could no longer afford to take up residence in my brain. All I needed were more songs, different songs. Songs that I could remember in full or in part. Songs that I loved and songs that I hated. It didn’t matter, I just needed enough songs to create such a tempest of noise in my head that eventually there would be nothing left but a drone that would lull me into a glorious sleep.
I opened my mind and my arms to a torrent of music, but nothing came. Any song, I told my brain. Any song, I pleaded with the universe. Then it happened, building slowly, quietly:
I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while are sleeping
While you’re far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure
Don’t want to close my eyes
I don’t want to fall asleep
Cause I’d miss you babe
And I don’t want to miss a thing
“I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”. That Aerosmith song from Armageddon.
And that’s when I realized that Tired Me has a seriously fucked up sense of humor.