It’s 3:38am and unfortunately, I’m awake: rocking a screaming newborn baby to sleep for the 15th time tonight. Having exhausted my library of sad, country lullabies and every rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” I turn to perhaps the only person still awake at 3:38am on a Wednesday night: Koe Wetzel.
Koe’s music is not appropriate for children. His lyrics are brooding, dreary, and profane. Themes of regret, emptiness, and self-pity give us a glimpse at the inner life of the tortured artist and lovable, degenerate rockstar. And when I finally lay my sleeping infant into his crib after hours of soothing, only to hear him violently shit himself awake, Koe’s songs help me feel seen.
Here are seven songs that are in my 3:38am rotation, proven to soothe both a crying baby and a suffering, bleary-eyed new parent.
“Sundy or Mundy”
“And I can’t tell if it’s Sunday or if it’s Monday
Who f*cking knows…”
With a newborn in the house, the days all blend together. Weekday? Weekend? It doesn’t matter because, just like “day” and “night,” they exist only in theory.
Koe’s in a rough place in this song and struggles to make some changes in his relationship. But it’s hard to change when you don’t even know what day it is. For instance, I haven’t changed my underwear since… who f*ckin’ knows?
“Crying from the Bathroom”
New babies cry a lot; it’s how they communicate. They cry when they’re tired, when they’re hungry, when they blow up their diaper, or for no reason at all.
In contrast, I cry when my 20-minute, midnight “nap” is cut short by some ill-timed baby communication, when I hide in the bathroom in private despair, and when I listen to Jason Isbell.
People love to ask new parents awkward, sensitive questions after their child is born. “So, are you guys done having kids?” “Will you try for a sibling?” “Is it time for a vasectomy?”
Or, in my case, after three boys in a row, “Are you going to try for a girl?”
Here’s my 3:38am answer:
“I don’t need your love
I don’t need your sympathy
I don’t need your heart
I just need some f*ckin’ sleep…”
I love having kids, and I know this brutal baby phase is temporary. But the physical, mental, and emotional toll of sleep deprivation is real. I’ll get through it. But I also know that I’d be cheerier, I’d have better perspective, and I’d choose lullabies with less F-words in them, if only I could get some f*ckin’ sleep.
“Kuntry and Wistern”
Perhaps insanity was inevitable with this little sleep. Both my dadbod and my brain are getting mushier every day. But this baby sure is cute, so maybe we’re not done after all. Four kids?
As Koe says in this classic, “I think I’ve lost my f*ckin’ mind…”
“I love the way you hate me…”
Thus starts this tongue-in-cheek break-up song, and it’s also how I feel staring down at the red, spitting face of my beautifully angry baby boy. I’m sure he doesn’t really hate me.
But even if he does, I’m delirious, so my love is extra-unconditional right now.
“I don’t love you
The selfish don’t love nobody
And I can’t love you like
You should be loved…”
It’s hard to love anything (other than Taco Bell) at 3:38am. But if you dig deep beneath the shrill wake-up calls and late-night doo-doo wipes, a new parent will find that true love resides in those little moments of self-denial and sacrifice. Having a child humbles you. It changes you. It resets your understanding of love.
I don’t have the capacity (especially on 3.5 hours of sleep) to love my newborn son like he should be loved. So, I take a deep breath, force my heavy eyes open, gaze upon his precious, innocent face, and serenade him with the gritty, harsh, soothing wisdom of Uncle Koe.
It’s all I’ve got at 3:38am…