Today and for the next few weeks we’ll be handing the reins over to poet-in-residence J.E. O’Leary, so he can tell the story of his band Trousers as he goes track-by-track through the band’s only release, 2004’s We Pitched a Hut and Called it Providence. This week: track #2, “Bedtime”
This song is pretty much peak Trousers. We wrote it at the height of our powers and it was one of our favorites to play live. Joey, our guitar player, wrote the verse riff and brought it to us to jam on. I came up with the bassline during the jam and started thinking about lyrics. In cases like this I would just kind of sing la-la-las until lyrics came to me. I had pretty much fully transitioned to playing with a pick at this point. It made singing way easier.
Singing and playing the bass at the same time had not come naturally to me. When I first began playing bass, I couldn’t do it at all. It was almost like you needed two brains in your head at once. But by the time Trousers was in full swing, I’d been playing bass for about ten years, just about every day, and I’d had some experience doing background vocals and leads (with very simple lines under them). I’d also picked up some basic guitar skills along the way, which gave me experience playing and carrying a tune. I found that using a pick on my bass let me think of my right arm as it were strumming chords, and I could accompany myself on increasingly difficult basslines. And as always you learn different ways to cheat a little when you need to.
During practice we developed the verses and they were looking strong. I told the band I would take the song home and try and write a chorus. I was still in my Early Period of songwriting at this point, and didn’t really know many tricks besides the basics, so I figured since this song was in F (the verse was F- Dm), I would go major 4th and hit the chorus in A#. It didn’t really sound right on the first fret, so the next time around I slid up to the 13th fret and added that power chord on the 5th, and that sounded so good. A couple of tweaks later and I had the right feel. The chorus ended up major 4th major 5th, which worked. Joey worked out a great ascending power chord part on the chorus to give it some real oomph.
I was pretty proud of the lyrics on this one. They basically came straight from a dream. In my dream I was literally in the 110th subway station on the 1/9 talking to my ex (who I hadn’t seen in years by this point). I also remember I couldn’t think of a second line for the 4th verse after “Am I holding your hand or fondling my alarm clock” so I just repeated it and it kinda stuck,
It was Becca’s idea to call it Bedtime, and we had a running joke about her cello part. When I finish with “but what good does it do meeee” she slides up to a really high note and I would always try to match it with a falsetto. We always cracked each other up trying to reach the high note.