The Lumineers: Sleep On The Floor Meaning
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Song Released: 2016
Sleep On The Floor Lyrics
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
'Cause if we don't leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown
Baby come on
Forget what Father...
anonymous Jun 9th 2019 report
I believe the story takes place after the death of the woman’s father, the woman being Cleopatra. The music video for ‘Sleep On The Floor’ fits well with then lines from ‘Cleopatra’, “When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand/But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress/With my father in a casket, I had no plans” meaning that the woman’s father had died so she was grieving when the man asked her to marry him. This corresponds with the SOTF music video as it begins with everybody dressed in black and they seem to be paying their condolences. The video also shows both the man and woman proposing on separate occasions and a brief marriage ceremony. The lyrics, “Put on your dress, yes wear something nice/Decide on me, yeah decide on us” sound as if he is asking her to wear something fancy so they can get married and he is telling her to commit to him.
The speaker appears to be rebelling against what he has been taught, perhaps because religion has let him down as shown in the religious imagery: “Jesus Christ can’t save me tonight”, “Forget what Father Brennan said” and “We were not born in sin”. This also links to the line in Cleopatra, “the church discouraged any lust that burned within me”. Together, these give the impression that the two were in a relationship but for some reason their union was not accepted by the church, perhaps because they were not married. This could have been the man’s incentive for proposing as seen early in the SOTF music video and the woman’s for accepting later on.
He tells her to grab their essentials (“Pack yourself a toothbrush dear/Pack yourself a favourite blouse”) and leave. The lines, “'Cause if we don't leave this town/We might never make it out/I was not born to drown” show they want to escape and see the world, that they are being suffocated in the town they are living in and are scared of wasting away their lives so the speaker is attempting to convince her to leave with him hence the repetition of “Baby come on”.
This shows their departure is spontaneous, as seen in the video but the speaker isn’t asking her to leave everything behind forever hence the line, “Leave a note on your bed/Let your mother know you’re safe” because he doesn’t want the woman’s mother to be worried about her. This also supports the theory that the song is linked to Cleopatra and her father had died at the beginning since there is no mention of him.
He justifies his need to escape in the third verse as the lines “And when we looked outside/Couldn't even see the sky” suggest light pollution and he goes on to say “I don't wanna live like that” about their way of life and earning money, showing why he wishes to leave. Although, the woman’s opinions are not expressed – perhaps this is because she did not agree with him but accompanied him for his sake and as a result of her grief after recently losing her father having clouded her judgement.
Furthermore, in the lines, “If the sun don't shine on me today/And if the subways flood and bridges break/Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave/Or will you rail against your dying day?” in which he is questioning what she will do if things don’t go their way - whether she will look for another solution or resign herself to a life of mediocrity. By using words such as “dying” and “grave” he is manipulating her by playing on the loss of her father. He is also asking her to stick with him even when things get rough, as shown in the video as they argue frequently but continue their journey together. However, if this song is linked to Cleopatra it can be assumed that ultimately this was not the case from the line “And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce” implying that their marriage was not successful which is not an enormous surprise to the spontaneity of it all.
Finally there's the title, “Sleep On The Floor”. The song can be taken in two ways as suggested by the music video. In the first few seconds the man suggests their escape to the woman and as she makes her decision she seems to split in two, with one of her remaining at home and the other following the man. The video itself follows the version of her that left where ‘Sleep On The Floor’ would be a reference to their makeshift beds and living conditions on the road, suggesting a sense of being carefree and content with just each other and no need for anything that wasn’t a necessity such as a proper bed. However, the video ends on the other version of herself lying on the floor alone as she watches somebody in black leaving which presumably took place after the funeral/ceremony. Perhaps this was her mother or another family member but by leaving her as she lies on the floor it shows how there wasn’t much left for her at home since she evidently needed help and was instead abandoned. Perhaps the former was the true series of events and she left with her lover or perhaps she remained, and the point of the video was to show what could have happened if she had left. Alternatively, it may be showing how she ran away with him but part of her remained at home as he asked her with bad timing as she left in the midst of a family crisis, perhaps meaning the decisions she made were out of desperation or fear as she hadn’t taken time to mourn her father. Regardless, the song is not just about running away and enjoying life as it appears to be on the surface and there is a darker underlying story.
anonymous Nov 19th 2017 report
She leaves everything behind to be with him, even though she knows it will be rough. They travel around place to place just having fun and being free even though it wasn't easy, it showed them having to hitch hike and live in a stranger's house because they had nowhere to go. Basically its saying she chose love over all.
anonymous Oct 19th 2017 report
the pity of life is that by the time you finally learn how to live it, it's too late. this song talks about discovering yourself and losing yourself and being torn apart and then finding the courage to put yourself back together. time waits for no-one and neither should you. walk on, my wary friend, walk on.
anonymous Nov 20th 2016 report
They're leaving town because Trump won
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