Finding the Bridge

Sleep and sleep patterns have always intrigued (and affected) me. As in, I don’t always sleep as soundly as some. Basically, I wake up in the middle of the night more often, than not. This has been especially true since Mark’s death.

Several years ago, new information about the history of sleep came across my desk and it helped me recognize that eight hours of uninterrupted sleep wasn’t necessarily the norm, at least until marketers seized upon another way to deepen their pockets—by pushing the idea, along with a host of sleep aids and other pharmaceuticals.

According to Roger Ekirch, a history professor at Virginia Tech, people slept in “shifts,” basically, or twice per night.

His research conducted over 16 years found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight-hour chunk, but instead, sleep came in two shorter periods, but over a longer range of night, with the range being about 12 hours long. He later wrote a book about it.

When I wake up and can’t fall back asleep, I get up, go downstairs and attend to some task for about an hour. Then, I get drowsy and often, go back to bed and sleep for 45 to 90 minutes. I generally wake up refreshed and ready for my day.

These nocturnal interludes between sleep shifts are when I discover interesting things, or do some quick research on something I’ve jotted down the previous day or prior week.

Last night, I got fixated on song structure and what constitutes a bridge in a song. For anyone not versed in songwriting or who may have never considered doing so, a bridge is basically that mechanism and tool in a songwriter’s arsenal that moves a song between the verse and chorus. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is found in the Beach Boys’ song, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” penned by the amazing musical genius, Brian Wilson. The song, all 2:20 of its amazing pop glory, might be one of the top ten songs of all time, at least in terms of popular music. The song is also on Pet Sounds, one of rock’s top albums of all time.

The bridge in the song begins at the lyric, “maybe if we think and wish and hope…” (at 1:07).

The Beach Boys’ (Brian Wilson) masterpiece.

The song also reminded me of high school, when I’d say to Mary, “wouldn’t it be nice if we could be together all the time?” And of course that’s what ended up happening.

As I wrote to her in an email (I’ve started sending my wife occasional emails to capture a thought or idea during the day [or night] so that I don’t lose it),

What strikes me about the song, especially listening with fresh ears, is how this could have been us in high school, thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice” if we could be together all the time, and lo and behold, we got our wish.

 We crafted a life together, found happiness (and struggles), but we had a good life.

Then, “bang,” we have this “bridge” in our life that carries us out from Mark’s death to whatever is next.

 Anyways, probably too much for you at 6:00 in the morning or whenever you read this…

Life, like songs, are full of bridges. They help us transition to whatever’s next in our lives.

Let’s go out to this one, which ends with Robert Plant asking the question, “where’s that confounded bridge.”