Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sleepsongs -> I Have A Dream: Sleep To Dream

Fiona Apple: Sleep To Dream


Bettye LaVette: Sleep To Dream


It's hard to find a better transitional song to get us from sleep to dream than Fiona Apple's half-chanted declaration of feminist self-reliance and confidence. Unless it's Bettye LaVette's incredibly soulful transformation of it, which brings an awesome grit and determination to what had been a poppy, almost petulant charter.

Though I'm sure the 18 year old Apple had a more singular foil in mind - a wanna-be lover, an anonymous misogynist - the way LaVette takes on the lyric, especially the repeated coda of "I've got my own hell to raise", universalizes the sentiment for me. In my mind, the slow, sultry, sparse jazz-funk beauty of LaVette's chosen setting, coupled with the woman's own backstory as a black artist who initially faded early and spent decades toiling in the shadows as a cult favorite, only to revive her career late in life thanks to the incredible all-covers album from which this song comes, allows the song to play out as a grander statement, letting us see it - if we choose - as a kind of response to King's I Have A Dream speech, accepting the ownership of the dream on behalf of all women, everywhere.

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