The Sensuous level
The song “As I lay me down” captures the emotive senses of the listener purely by the introductory combination of the guitar and the piano. The musical ‘power’ in the song – its ability to draw one to pause and listen to the song even when the listener is engaged in other matters, is almost tangible.
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The tone of the music almost sounds like a pleasurable lullaby that an adult would want to get soothed by. The song begins by the sound of guitar strings followed by a piano that captures the listener’s attention. The melodious vocal voice of the singer then follows, complementing the introductory instruments mentioned in synchronous harmony that makes it almost natural to want to sing along to the song. A dedication to her father’s memory, the song’s reflective tone makes it even more captivating.
The Expressive or Emotional Level
“As I lay me down” invokes the feelings of memory for departed loved ones. As mentioned earlier, the song is the composer’s dedication to her late father. The song thus generates memorial feelings for loved ones the listener may have lost, either a family member or close friends.
This was clearly the intention of the composer and this intent is clear in the musical lyrics of the composition as well as the tone the song creates, and the mood the song evokes. Paradoxically, the song does not create the feelings of loss and heartache because of the feelings of memory of the dearly departed, but induces feelings of love and appreciation for those dearly loved who are still living.
It makes the listener appreciate his or her loved ones who are still alive and close. Depending on the state of mind of the listener at the particular time of listening to this composition, the emotions created in the listener tend to swing from memory of the departed loved one(s), to love and appreciation for the living loved one(s).
The song can be especially important in giving the listener a sense of appreciation, with the message generally being that those around us should be shown love and appreciation while the listener still has the privilege of enjoying the loved one’s company. The song dwells on the special love that exists between a father and his children (especially daughters), and the singer magnifies the seemingly ‘simple’ role – powerful in the eyes of the daughter – the father used to play in ‘laying the daughter to sleep’.
The song is able to pack a lot of emotion in the act of a father laying his child or children to sleep. The song has been used as a soundtrack in many movies that seek to express the paradoxical emotions of saying goodbye to a loved one, and welcoming back a loved one after years of being apart. The song has been regularly touted as one of the best soundtracks for a movie.
Musical Content Level
The piano and the guitar are the major instruments that are used in this composition. Sophie B. Hawkins’ unmistakable voice then follows the introduction, and many of her ardent listeners can easily identify her slightly husky and powerful voice as she begins to sing.
The piano and guitar, which play short notes, have been slightly tweaked and stretched in this song, because the intro has the guitar and the piano playing slightly higher durations than their typical short strokes and sounds respectively; an indication of the expertise of the instrumentalists.
All the instruments accompany the singer’s voice in a repeated rhythm that gives the composition a pattern that a listener can easily follow. The guitar is more prevalent than the piano in this song and the singer herself is an accomplished guitarist and plays the instrument to accompany her vocals in the song.