Sleeping Bag

Album: Afterburner (1985)
Charted: 27 8
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Songfacts®:

  • In a 1985 interview with Spin magazine, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons shared his thoughts on the evolution of the sleeping bag: "Sleeping bags used to be a real drag to contend with, when you're in the Boy Scouts and the best you can do is one of those Army sleeping bags. The old-timey kind that were heavy. Then in the late '60s or '70s, they came out with those down-filled bags that roll up into the size of a cantaloupe. It's changed the whole idea of a sleeping bag. I had one of those that looks just like a mummy case. That's where the line in the song comes from: 'Sleep beside the pharoahs in the shifting sands.'"

    Bass player Dusty Hill added: "I used to own a sleeping bag. I used to go camping. But I don't own a sleeping bag now. I own a sleeping bag in my mind."
  • While far from their best-known song, this reached a higher US chart position than any other ZZ Top single ("Legs" also hit #8), and it also hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
  • The video was the last to feature the three "Eliminator Girls" and the 1933 Ford Hot Rod that appeared in ZZ Top's videos for "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs." In these videos, an ordinary person finds themselves transformed by the girls and the car, with the band appearing at opportune times to look over the action. In the "Sleeping Bag" video, it's a couple who are saved from Monster Truck-driving thugs.

    Unlike their previous videos, this one used animation to show the magical powers of ZZ Top. Also unlike the others, it was not directed by Tim Newman, as he and the band's label (Warner Brothers) couldn't agree on money. Steve Barron directed this one, which came as a surprise to the band.

    The couple in the video were played by Heather Langenkamp and John Dye. Langenkamp was the star of the 1984 movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, and later said that meeting ZZ Top was "One of the highlights of my young life." Dye would later play Andrew in the TV series Touched By An Angel.
  • Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding made the song part of her playlist during the 1992 US Figure Skating Championships. I Tonya, the 2017 biopic about the controversial winter sports star's rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan, shows Harding skating to the track.

    "It's absolutely true-to-life and period correct," Billy Gibbons told Songfacts about the use in the film. "When the recorded ZZ version wrapped up, it became a ZZ favorite. When it became a natural working as a piece with figure skating as a drop, it made us think about taking on recording a ballet some day. Nah, just kidding!"
  • Gibbons said that on this track he got the "harshest tone" he's ever used on guitar.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 8th 1985, "Sleeping Bag" by ZZ Top peaked at #8 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and spent 15 weeks on the chart...
    Earlier in 1985 on November 9th it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart...
    It was track one from the trio's "Afterburner" album, the album peaked at #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart.
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