My Second Favorite Song of All-Time

I worry about life passing me by.  I worry about not noticing the little things, or not knowing enough about the people I care about, or not seizing opportunity, or enjoying a beautiful spring day, or telling a pretty woman how pretty she is. (not that I am always great at these things, but I think about them, see?) I haven’t always worried about these things, but I think regular readers of my blog might understand where this impulse and concern of mine comes from.  I know that I am far from the only person who thinks this way, but this tendency, I think, might be a bit heightened in me.

Like, I think, most people, my younger years were spent in a kind of frivolity.  I’ve always been an introspective type, prone to pondering the meaning of life (if you’ll allow me to be so cliché), but my late teens and early twenties were spent pondering the meaning of my life, often on an extremely localized scale.  I didn’t care about much else.  And while I have grown up into anything but a “selfless” man, I’d like to think, at least, that the roses I stop to smell are now in public gardens, and not my own backyard.

The first time I ever heard the band Hey Rosetta! (the exclamation point is theirs, not mine) I was listening to the XM Radio station The Verge, and their song “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” came on.  At first I was caught by the repetitive, rocky riff, and then I saw the song title on my car’s display, and I was hooked by the title alone.

“I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” talks about a man who spent his whole life not paying attention to the world around him, and by the time he “wakes up”, it’s just too damn late for anything.  Lyricist Tim Baker gives us some very straight-forward material here, as well as some more complicated stuff if you are the pondering type.  He starts us off pretty plainly: “I’ve been asleep for a long, long time. Blonde hair to brown, and brown to white.  My mom is buried beside my dad, but I was asleep for all of that.”

And it’s that line that gets me, still, more than anything: My mom is buried beside my dad, but I was asleep for all of that.

More than anything, this song has made me want to know my parents.  Really know them, like human beings, with histories and quirks and human qualities and not just dismiss them as “my parents”.  Because I’ve been made aware that life is not forever, and someday I won’t have these parents around, and I do not want to be asleep for all of that.

Another line that frazzles me: “The schools that we went to have all been closed, and all of my teachers are dead, I suppose.”  Gives me chills.  The passage of time and all that jazz.

Later, in a fantastic musical breakdown before a stunning crescendo, Tim hits us with some more ponderous material: he makes an analogy comparing “sleeping” people to reeds caught in a rising river tide: “The river’s up, the reeds are caught halfway across what never was.  The river rose, and swept in slow. When the reeds awoke, they were half below.”

Don’t wait until you’re half below to wake up.

I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time
by Hey Rosetta!

I’ve been asleep for a long, long time.
Blond hair to brown and brown to white.
My mom is buried beside my dad,
but I was asleep for all of that.

I shut my eyes for a moment’s rest,
cause I get so tired.
What thing transpired while my body slept
to beset my mind?

The schools that we went to have all been closed,
and all of my teachers are dead, I suppose.
The songs that we sung have all gone quiet.
What happens below as we sleep at night?

The river’s up, the reeds are caught
halfway across what never was.
The water rose and swept in slow.
When the reeds awoke they were half below.


I was lucky enough, shortly after falling head-over-heels for this band, to bring my friend Paul along for the ride, and he is now as big (if not maybe even slightly bigger) fan of the band than I am.  In late 2011, Paul and I (and our friend Chris, as well) trekked to Ithaca, New York, to see our first Hey Rosetta! show (the first of 7 for me, now).  It was in a little shit-shack of a bar.  As we approached to enter, hours before the show, the first thing I heard was the band soundchecking a slow, acoustic version of “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time”.  It was a moment of amazement for me.  As the three of us entered the bar, we were practically alone inside, and on a tiny stage, there was the band, playing this song that had transformed my life to an empty room.  There are very few moments in life like this one.  Later, when they played it during the show, I taped it, but the video quality is HORRIBLE and my battery ran out halfway through, but here it is anyway:

Me with Tim Baker, lyricist and singer of Hey Rosetta!, at the Ithaca, New York show

Me with Tim Baker, lyricist and singer of Hey Rosetta!, at the Ithaca, New York show



If you’ve got this far in the entry and are actually interested in/ like this song, please watch this, a video of them playing the song live for real for real.  I swear, it can change your life:



5 Responses to “My Second Favorite Song of All-Time”

  1. I wish I would have known this personal story about this song when we were there. I remember hearing the softer rendition as we entered as well, and thinking that it fit the song like a different outfit. Then, when Tim told us that they were going to have to play the whole set at a softer tone, my excitement was palatable and I couldn’t wait for the experience. Glad to see this song so high up on this list. Thanks for introducing me to these guys. Another show needs to happen again

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Well there isn’t so much of a story to tell about the song, as much as there’s just the fact that it has highly affected me. I love that we got to see the slower, acoustic show, but really, for me, I still very much prefer the high-octane plugged-in HR! As soon as there’s another show I can get to, we are there! Do you have the Hey Rosetta! app? Not sure if it’s only available for iPhone but I love it! For it being just for one band it is a great app!

  2. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    This may not be related, but I think it is because as I read this I couldn’t stop thinking about this. Do you ever really think about the people you interact with? There are the friends family and co-workers you see everyday, then there are the people you have zero interaction with but you’re connected by walking down the street or commuting next to them. The people in between blow my mind. People like a bartender who just gets you a water, or like for me on my recent trip to Europe almost everyone I interacted with outside of my family. Here’s the person who got my breakfast for me or gave me directions or was the innkeeper at the bed and breakfast. We had this short-term interaction where for a brief moment one of us was really helping the other in a personal way, and then very soon we’ll officially never see one another for the rest of eternity. That shit blows my mind. It might be the opposite way of thinking than the protagonist in the song or it could be me making way too much significance out of a damn mini-mart clerk.

    Also, I’ve liked this song since I first heard it too.

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