3 am: Dread Hour or Magic Hour?

Lucy Reynolds (details) 3am

The hours beyond twilight often instill dread, but the Bluecoat’s artistic director Bryan Biggs finds they can also inspire…  

The creative pull of the nocturnal hours on artists extends beyond visual art and literature. In popular music for instance, the night has a thousand eyes, you could be swinging on a star, and the moon is blue, pink or yellow, rising badly and inspiring moon rivers and moondances.

For Ray Charles the night-time is the right time, for the KLF 3 a.m. is eternal. From Don MacLean’s starry, starry night to Joanna Newsom’s explication of the difference between meteor, meteorite and meteoroid in her song Emily, songwriters have found inspiration in the night sky.

The early hours are particularly fruitful: Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat letter penned at four in the morning, whilst Pérez Prado even made a whole album of dangerous Cuban rhythms, Havana, 3 a.m., in 1956, though it contains no song of that title. In the Everly Brothers’ famous single, it’s four o’clock and little Susie is in deep trouble if she doesn’t wake up soon; and at sixty-four, will we stay out till a quarter to three, as in the Beatles song?

Searching songs on the Internet on the subject of 3 a.m. unearths a staggering number of efforts thus titled, many seemingly written at that hour by lovelorn, lonely or insomniac individuals. Most are instantly forgettable. Others offer dance remixes in the chill of the night, creating that 3 a.m. mood for the wired raver.

Spurning these in favour of a more eclectic, historical selection, the nocturnal tunes below aim to capture something of the wonder and paranoia of the restless night.

Bryan Biggs

3 am: Wonder and the Restless Night opens Saturday 28th September @ the Bluecoat

For Bryan’s full playlist, pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue during the show from the Bluecoat

Text reproduced with permission of the author/editor from the catalogue published by LUP for the exhibition of the same name

Posted on 24/09/2013 by thedoublenegative