By Izzy Yellen
While he is most known for his films—most notably “The Big Lebowski”—Jeff Bridges is also a musician and frequent meditator. Despite his other music being primarily country, Bridges was able to combine intriguing spoken word and ambient sounds in his most recent album, “Sleeping Tapes,” which was released near the beginning of this year.
“Sleeping Tapes” offers many things, not just relaxing music and sounds. There are bizarre short stories by Bridges, field recordings, pleasing sounds and guided meditations, to name a few. While so much happens in one album, it remains tranquil, meditative and strangely hypnotic throughout.
The album opens with some calming sounds and orchestrations to set the mood. After this, Bridges starts explaining the album and its purpose—he breaks the fourth wall various times throughout the duration. It’s hard to detach his voice from his various movie characters and hear it as reassuring and pleasant, but this album does just that.
The next batch of songs are similar. They are made up of sparse music, with Bridges’ words being the focus. He talks about various things—humming before filming, getting up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and dreaming. None of these subjects are normal for an album and it may be strange to listen to for some listeners, but Jeff Bridges is able to make it personal and appealing.
The album takes a bizarre turn, however, as he starts sharing some of his “bedtime stories.” There are a few, and they are all quite short and contain fantastic imagery. I won’t ruin any of them, but their subject matter is often whimsical, yet intelligent. The stories give a nice break in the middle, but are not different enough from the rest of the album to ruin the cohesiveness it has as a whole.
The next three songs—“Temescal Canyon,” “Feeling Good” and “Seeing With My Eyes Closed”—were my favorite and really captured the genius and overall feeling of “Sleeping Tapes.” During these tracks, the listener gets a beautiful and calming tour of Temescal Canyon, is reassured about their greatness by Jeff Bridges himself and is prompted to ponder the imagery you see as you fall asleep. Words don’t do this section—or any track for that matter—justice. Though, I will say that if you listen, Bridges will compliment you on your nice haircut.
Despite opening with the sounds of a toilet flushing, the last track has a nice message from Bridges about sleeping and encourages the listener to help support No Kid Hungry. Jeff Bridges has been a spokesperson for this organization for a while and helps raise money for children to not only have enough food, but eat nutritionally. All the proceeds—the album price is pay-what-you-like—go to No Kid Hungry.
I guarantee this album is like nothing you have ever heard and that you will be lulled to either sleep or a meditative state by at least one track on it. That said, I suggest listening to all of it straight through. It’s entertaining, calming and as The Dude would describe it, “far out.” Give it a listen and support a good cause at www.dreamingwithjeff.com.