Some songs just sound like they were written to accompany the nighttime. These songs can be spacy ambient recordings, heartfelt lullabies, hauntingly beautiful performances, and so much more. With that in mind, here's a list of eight songs that are perfect, in their own ways, for staring at the night sky.
1. Tom Waits - "Midnight Lullaby"
Tom Waits's debut, Closing Time
, is not really indicative of what you can expect from his later work. But there are lots of great tunes on it that are really pleasing to listen to, and "Midnight Lullaby" is probably the easiest on the ears. As the title would suggest, it's a soothing song that sounds like a something a dad would sing to his kids to help them fall asleep (it even ends with Waits playing "Mockingbird" on the piano!).
2. Kate Bush - "And Dream of Sheep"
Other than one unexpected percussive boom halfway through the song, "And Dream of Sheep" is a peaceful, instrumentally spare interlude from Kate Bush's classic album, Hounds of Love
. Also, in typical Kate Bush fashion, it's extravagantly sung and musically lush.
3. R.E.M. - "Nightswimming"
"Nightswimming" is one of those songs that I can't imagine anyone listening to without smiling. It's one of R.E.M.'s most wonderfully arranged songs. Nothing but piano, gorgeous orchestral accompaniment, Michael's Stipe's excellent vocals, and beautiful imagery. "Nightswimming deserves a quiet night."
4. Elliott Smith - "Tomorrow Tomorrow"
Some of Elliott Smith's songs feature nothing but his whispered, doubled vocals, and acoustic guitar plucking. "Tomorrow Tomorrow" is one of those songs. It's a very relaxing listen, and it even sounds a little bit like a lullaby... until you listen to the lyrics, that is.
5. Mazzy Star - "Into Dust"
Alternative 90s rock starlets, Mazzy Star, gave us some memorable tunes when they were in their prime. One of their most well known tracks is the minimal "Into Dust," a song that only features softly-plucked guitars, light cello playing, and Hope Sandoval's breathy vocals. It's as chilling as it is soothing.
6. My Bloody Valentine - "she found now"
So this might seem like a sudden shift from lightly-plucked guitars to heavily-distorted guitars, but My Bloody Valentine songs sometimes use that distortion, along with Kevin Shields's whispery, nearly unintelligible vocals, to produce an ethereal, otherworldly effect. "she found now" is definitely one of those songs.
7. Radiohead - "True Love Waits"
So, I often feel like I'm alone in preferring the new "True Love Waits" to the older live version that was only released as the final track on Radiohead's live album, I Might Be Wrong
. But the way the song closes out A Moon Shaped Pool
, with this new arrangement that swaps out the acoustic guitar for piano trills and ambient noise, is dreamy to say the least. Actually, most of the songs on this album are spacey enough to be the perfect soundtrack for gazing at a full moon.
8. Brian Eno - "The Big Ship"
Speaking of "spacey," this is one of Brian Eno's most memorable, and gorgeous, ambient compositions. Another Green World
, in its entirety, is proof that Eno is a minimalist master.