October 21, 2017

Sleep Walk or Sleepwalk?

A classic steel guitar tune played by many, if not all, steel guitarists is the 1959 Santo & Johnny (Farina) hit, “Sleep Walk.” The song reached the Number 1 rating on Billboard’s Top 40 in September, 1959 and earned Santo & Johnny a gold record.

Note the spelling: The title is two words, not a single word.

According to Basil Henriques, “It’s a classic, and it deserves to be called correctly, It’s NOT Sleepwalk, it’s TWO words; Sleep Walk.” A quick look at YouTube and Facebook postings shows that most times the song is referred to with a single word, which imparts a whole different meaning to the song title. A Billboard Top 100 Hits listing for 1959 shows the song title as Sleep Walk. Wikipedia also lists the song title as Sleep Walk.

Canadian American 45 RPM Record Label. PC-45cat.com.

The original Canadian-American record label clearly shows the song title as two words, Sleep Walk. Unfortunately, most lyrics sites on the Internet also describe the song title and lyrics incorrectly, using the one-word descriptor.

One of the first cover versions of this song was recorded by Betsy Brye in 1959. It was released on a single by Columbia Records as catalog number DB 4530. Although Santo & Johnny (and their sister Ann) wrote lyrics for Sleep Walk, they never recorded a version with the lyrics. Brye’s version includes these lyrics. Here are the first two stanzas:

Sleep walk
Instead of dreaming
I sleep walk
‘Cause I lost you
And now what am I to do
What to do
Can’t believe that we’re through
I don’t care how much you tell me

Sleep talk
‘Cause I miss you
I sleep talk
While the memory of you
Lingers like a song
Darling, I was so wrong
But I’ll be right someday

Undoubtedly the name of this song will continue to be misrepresented. However, regardless of how you spell the song’s title, the tune is unmistakably one of steel guitar’s most memorable songs.

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