The Dude Speaks:
Jeff Bridges’ spoken word album
for sleeping coolly.
If we are to know at least undisputed fact in this crazy universe of ours it is this:
Jeff Bridges is the coolest person in the world.
Why JB is cool is hard to pin down, he just is. Look at him, listen to him, see his movies, hear his music, see his incredibly talented photography, and one is washed over with a warm fuzzy feeling of being witness to some utterly cool shit.
Even in dogs of movies, he uplifts proceedings impeccably, and beyond anything they deserve (see: RIPD, Seabiscuit, How to Lose Friends…)
He’s been man enough to out-John Wayne John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, eaten more scenery than Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man. He can play everyman, the bad guy, the loser, the winner, the father, the son, the holy spirit; JB is one of the truly great actors…ever.
JB GREATEST HITS
Naturally, every argument made to counter the true awesome power of Jeff is begins and ends in one word: Dude. Or The Dude, to give him his full name, or His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
Jeffery Lebowski, the Big Lebowski.
In the 117 minutes of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 crime comedy anti-movie, Jeff solidifies an iconography that has lived on ever since, creating one of the best loved and most iconically, ironically, cool characters in the last 40 years.
Anyone who doesn’t at least fall in the love with The Dude, even if they don’t get the movie, doesn’t have pulse. Lebowski the lovable loser, creates high art out of slacker-dom, a philosophy out of not giving a shit, a religion of doing what you want, when you want, no matter what…or not doing it, whatever, man.
But as much as I can eulogise The Dude, there is now another chapter in the cool canon of Jeff Bridges and it is beautiful.
Bridges has been musically inclined before, not only earning Oscar gold out of his role as Otis Blake, the down-and-out Americana song-slinger on the road to redemption in the film Crazy Heart, he has also been a capable and understated musician in his own right, releasing two collections of subtle country blues rock over the last 15 years.
In 2015, he has released The Sleeping Tapes aka Dreaming With Jeff, and it is something else altogether. It is essentially an ambient, drony collection of spoken word pieces, a series of disconnected but warm fever dreams, gently presented by Jeff in his relaxed, laconic drawl, over which Keefus Ciancia, keyboardist, producer and score composer for True Detective amongst others, lathers up some eclectic dreamy sound manipulations, sending a listener off on a sensual but good natured journey between states of consciousness.
As Jeff explains in the opening piece: the album has been created to
“inspire you to do some cool sleeping, some cool dreaming and some cool waking up”
It is a remarkable collection, there is nothing else quite like it, and as one listens to it more and more, you pick up new things, different directions and subtle messages in its undergrowth.
The album is available to download (free, but it is recommended to pay what you can, as the monies from sales of the album go towards a worthy cause – the NO KID HUNGRY initiative to help eliminate child hunger – https://www.nokidhungry.org)
DOWNLOAD HERE: http://www.dreamingwithjeff.com/#music-section
The album artwork is by renowned California surrealist Lou Beach (http://www.loubeach.com), in collaboration with Jeff, and also adds to the mischievous reverie of it all.
A particular highlight is the 11 minute odyssey Temescal Canyon – a simulated field recording of JB narrating a walk through the wilderness – up a mountain – that, like any dream, moves swiftly between the serene to the absurd, covering such quirky tangents as finding a collection of old Spanish doubloon coins “hey, man, we’re rich”, to finding a discarded office chair “I’m going to sit on this when we get to the top (of this hill)”, to the final denouement:
“I hid a couple of hang-gliders (up here)…we’re going to hang glide outta here”
Throughout, Jeff’s voice is warm, friendly and inviting, you feel enveloped in the whole event with remarkable tangibility that is quite comforting, much like a dream, of course.
Jeff begins the latter half of the album with Feeling Good, a fun and funny take on the concept of popular subliminal sleep tapes that are supposedly designed to help you sleep while simultaneously giving you some much needed affirmation for life.
In a voice with tongue firmly in cheek and a wink and twinkle in the eye, Jeff gently builds your brittle postmodern ego:
“I like your haircut”
“You belong…and are accepted”
“You have strong hands, capable of woodworking”
“You smell nice”
“You order well at restaurants”
“You are very good at guessing when a traffic light will turn green”
…And you believe.
Jeff Bridges is a remarkable storyteller on the Sleeping Tapes, creating a beautiful realm of the fantastical and slightly bizarre. Forming a world with words for us all to live in for a few moments, again and again, a truly original piece of sound art that does much to cement the continuing cool of Jeff.