October 17

What’s Special About Don Williams’ Rendition of “Endless Sleep” by Jody Reynolds

“Endless Sleep” is a song originally written and recorded by rockabilly singer, Jody Reynolds in 1958, but Don Williams gave the song a country take in his 1973 album, Don Williams Volume One.

The song was inspired by Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” and it tells a story of a boy whose girlfriend went missing after they fought. Record companies rejected the song, describing it as too depressing, but a demo was later on accepted under the condition that the ending of the song be changed so that the boy saves the girl from drowning.

Don Williams’ Rendition

Don Williams’ version of “Endless Sleep” was released in 1973 under his album Don Williams Volume One, which reached no. 5 on the US country charts. His rendition of the song has a faster tempo and the instruments used gave it a distinct country sound, as compared to the original version. It’s also one of the many Don Williams songs that showcases his deep but smooth voice that ultimately earned him his nickname, “The Gentle Giant.” 

Williams’ vocals, together with the instrumentals and the speed of the song, made it sound more upbeat. When you listen to the rendition for the first time while disregarding the lyrics, you’d think that it’s a cheerful song, but once you start to understand the lyrics, you’ll realize that it’s actually far from being a happy song.

Looking at the lyrics, one would immediately recognize how dark the song really is if it’s taken in a literal sense: the couple fought, the boy left the girl alone, the girl wandered into the sea, and the sea almost took her. There was even a chilling line in the first chorus where the girl appears to be luring the boy to join her in her “endless sleep.” Pretty dark, right? But it appears as though Don Williams’ country rendition of “Endless Sleep” masks the darkness of the lyrics of the famous teenage tragedy song.

Listen to “Endless Sleep” by Don Williams by clicking the video below and tell us what you think.


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