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Title: ‘Sleep Alone’
Where to find it: ‘Beacon’ (2012, Kitsune [UK], Glassnote [US], in early September)
Performed by: Two Door Cinema Club
Words by: guessing Alex Trimble.

Both Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club’s debut albums came out in 2010, and I adore both. I liked Delphic’s a tick more, because the content felt more intellectual to me. Well, the tables may have been turned, as Two Door has revealed the first single from their second album, ‘Beacon’, and it’s miles away a better song lyrically than Delphic’s London 2012 Olympics single ‘Good Life’. Unlike the previous analyses, I’m going to group my thoughts under headings to make the analysis a little easier to digest.

First, the words:

Verse 1
Know, my only goal is to see
When I’m only fast asleep
It takes more than strength to find
This peace of mind

So I’ll hold, hold, hold
Hold it close to my heart
Beating with every step
Hold, hold, hold it close

Chorus
He sleeps alone
He needs no army where he’s headed
‘Cause he knows
That they’re just ghosts
And they can’t hurt him if he can’t see them, oh
And I may go
To places I have never been to
Just to find
The deepest desires in my mind

Verse 2
We, we only know what we see
‘Cause we’re always fast asleep
Is it so hard not to believe
That we’ll never know

Oh, hold, hold, hold
Hold me close
I’ve never been this far from home
Hold, hold, hold me close

Chorus
He sleeps alone
He needs no army where he’s headed
‘Cause he knows
That they’re just ghosts
And they can’t hurt him if he can’t see them, oh
And I may go
To places I have never been to
Just to find
The deepest desires in my mind

Bridge
It’s in my head
And I have said
That I must be like him now
He sleeps alone
He sleeps alone
And one last chance
To make sense
Of what has long escaped us
He sleeps alone
I sleep alone

Final chorus and outro
He sleeps alone
He needs no army where he’s headed
‘Cause he knows
That they’re just ghosts
And they can’t hurt him if he can’t see them, oh
And I don’t know if in the morning I will be here
And if so
Let it be known
That I was worthy, I was worthy, I was worthy, I was
Oh….

Now, the analysis, with my thoughts grouped by topic category:
Reaching enlightenment
Don’t laugh, but this is what verse 1 first said to me. Seeing when you’re fast asleep – and in another consciousness – is something yogis do. Knowing the guys though, I doubt this is what they were trying to convey. It’s just come out that way. “Know, my only goal is to see / When I’m only fast asleep / It takes more than strength to find / This peace of mind”: it’s hard to clear your mind of things and get to a zen state. It is also very difficult to think when your life is running a mile a minute. Or when you’re on drugs.

Mortality
The start of the chorus: “He sleeps alone / He needs no army where he’s headed / ‘Cause he knows / That they’re just ghosts” – need I say more? This could be viewed as someone who had died or is in the process of dying. If you believe in the idea of heaven and afterlife, you’re alone from the point you die until you make it through the pearly gates. He needs no protection (the “army”) because there is no danger passing from the physical living world to the spiritual one.

This theme is repeated in the second half of verse 2: “Oh, hold, hold, hold / Hold me close / I’ve never been this far from home” – this person has left the life he has known on earth, to somewhere entirely different.

The human condition

I’m on the fence on the way the first chorus ends. “And I may go / To places I have never been to / Just to find / The deepest desires in my mind”: has he ended his life to see if he can transcend what it means to be human to find spiritual enlightenment? Or, is this “desire” more human, like being in love with someone?

War / Soldiers
The following line “And they can’t hurt him if he can’t see them, oh” is less convincing. Reminds me of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, but also points to the fact that this person being described is some kind of soldier. The thinking that the enemy can’t hurt you if you can’t seem him/them is naive at best; of course the enemy can hurt you even if you don’t see them. Land mines? Snipers?

Social consciousness
The first part of verse 2 is just fab. “We, we only know what we see / ‘Cause we’re always fast asleep”: the admittance that we’re just sheeple. We’re “asleep”, on auto-pilot, we don’t *do* anything of value. Then we get to the line “Is it so hard not to believe / That we’ll never know”. This reinforces the idea that this idea is about mortality, god, and what happens after we die. No one knows really what happens after we die, right?

Changing point of view
Here, in the bridge, Two Door is doing a reversal of roles. It feels now that it’s a woman speaking to a man. It sounds to me that the woman is realising in order to understand her man fully, she has to take the same path as he: in this case, the search for enlightenment. Alternatively, it could mean someone trying to understand someone else’s mental illness, like a war vet with post-traumatic stress disorder, in order to try and help this person.

“It’s in my head / And I have said / That I must be like him now / He sleeps alone” represents wanting to comprehend what the other is thinking and feeling. If it is the boyfriend/girlfriend case, the lines “And one last chance / To make sense / Of what has long escaped us / He sleeps alone / I sleep alone” indicate the girlfriend’s willingness to “sleep alone” in order to find “what has long escaped us” in the hopes to salvage their relationship. If it’s the mental illness case, the lines point to the person’s heartfelt desire to help this person.

Suicide (double suicide?)
“And I don’t know if in the morning I will be here”: this is the part of the song where I can feel my heart breaking. If the person who is described as “he sleeps alone” is so out there and can’t be saved (and maybe will be die?), perhaps the only solution to leave, either physically to another location (or to also die). “And if so / Let it be known / That I was worthy, I was worthy, I was worthy, I was / Oh….”: doesn’t this sound like something someone who is deeply religious would say?

In short? This song ‘Sleep Alone’ is far more complicated than I’d guess 99% of the people listening to it even begins to realise. Somehow, the “he” in “he sleeps alone” is unreachable; whether he’s in a good or not so good place isn’t clear. Neither is whether he’s gotten to this place because of something out of his control (like mental illness) or he had a direct hand in getting there (like becoming a drug addict). But it’s very evident the song doesn’t have a happy ending: “let it be known / that I was worthy” is a goodbye. The fact that I could write this much about “a mere pop song” says so much about what great songwriters Two Door Cinema Club. If this is what the rest of the album is going to be like, ‘Beacon’ could be the album of the decade. ‘Sleep Alone’ is just brilliant.

Lastly, the song, with handy lyrics provided by the band themselves. Not a fan of the over the top image of a woman’s backside and her frilly knickers (I’ve never ever seen knickers with ruffles like that!) but next time I see the band, I will say to them, “boys. album cover. LAD.”

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