earworm: “Talking In Your Sleep,” The Romantics (1983)

I have had this song stuck in my head for a few days. It’s catchy. I don’t mind having a fun little ’80s ditty like this in my head…except, I have always thought the lyrics to this to be strange. The singer repeatedly proclaims: “I hear the secrets that you keep, when you’re talking in your sleep.” OK, I am intrigued, Wally Palmar — poofy-haired lead of the Romantics. Just what are these revealing secrets your bedmate shares with you while she’s unconscious? Has she buried a body in the basement? Does she cheat on her taxes? Harbour a secret and disgusting hankering for a spam sandwich? No, apparently, as Wally relays: “You tell me that you want me. You tell me that need me. You tell me that you love me. And I know that I’m right, ’cause I hear it in the night.” Hmm, well Wally, I can’t speak to the specifics of your relationship, but I would assume that if this woman is sleeping in your bed with you, on an implied regular basis, then it’s safe to assume that she probably wants and needs you, at least in a carnal way. Love is a big word, and maybe that’s what she doesn’t like to bandy about openly. I guess I could understand how her inability to express her true emotions, at least in waking hours, might be troubling for you. But I have to say, I find her secrets a little vanilla. I was hoping for something a tad more juicy.

Unless…he is not actually in a relationship with this woman at all, and just sneaks into her room at night while she slumbers. Now, that’s creepy. And illegal. I will give him the benefit of the doubt in this situation, and assume maybe she is a roommate or something, but it’s still weird. This scenario does match better with the video, which is both hilarious and disturbing as it features lingerie-clad women apparently asleep while standing, until the band members come along and wake them with their truly awesome ’80s riffs. I do appreciate the bass player’s head groove though. I think I will adopt that as my trusted move to this song.

The Civil Wars covered this, and it sounds like a completely different song altogether. When I hear their haunting duet, I don’t even really think about the meaning behind the lyrics. The emotion is all there in their voices. But perhaps I shouldn’t be seeking meaning in an old pop-rock hit anyway. The Romantics also sing “What I Like About You” which is also so very, very catchy. Like a persistent cold.


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