The Clearing Track By Track: Asleep/Dead

Carrying on from our track by track of Lie To Me, today I’m moving right along to track 8: Asleep/Dead.

If you haven’t heard the record yet, check it out on YouTube Music or my own YouTube Channel below.

Asleep/Dead kicks off at the 25:53 mark.

About the Track

Asleep/Dead is one of the only tracks on this record that isn’t really based on any sort of true story, rather it’s more of an interpretation of a dream riddled with elements and small experiences from my life and serves as a social and political commentary.

At the top of the track we’re transported to a house and once again, as I like to do, kick off right in the middle of a conversation.

“You left the TV on,” he says.

‘Better than the stove,’ I jest. (Of course to want to eat you’d have to have the will to live being more a sarcastic internal dialogue afterwards).

The picture I’m painting in the first verse here is one of a deteriorating household and relationship where people are so distracted that they’re neglecting basic tasks and needs, and others in the vicinity are so preoccupied with their own life and problems that they’re oblivious to it all entirely, whether that’s by choice or their own coping mechanism is left up to debate.

In verse 2 our little slips continue only this time they have a bit of a more disastrous consequence than simply leaving the TV on after you’re done with it, and an intruder makes their way into the house by simply walking through the unlocked door.

This verse is not at all unlike a recurring dream I had frequently as a kid where someone would break in and I watched them enter the room at the other end of the hallway (when I say vivid, I really mean it, and while not always taking place in physical spaces I’ve already been to, this one took place in my house – the same walls, the same carpet, everything). In that dream I’d immediately panic and begin making my escape – in this case, I chose the windows of my bedroom and jumped out them, knowing I’d never make it to the stairs at the end of the hall.

In the chorus, picture yourself in a hospital, your eyes still shut while your family/friends stand or sit around you, waiting for you to wake up, as though you’re in some sort of coma. But it’s really a commentary on how sleepwalking through life is almost no different than not living a life at all.

In verse 3 we contemplate this in our bed-stricken state, depressed and unable to do anything about it in our current situation.

In the final verse we make a shift in our thinking and our life, getting ourself out of the hospital bed and back home to where things went terribly wrong and we make the decision to never return, taking only our essential items and leaving everything else inside it because we feel like nothing good can come of staying in this place, physically and mentally.

And now we’re alone on the street with nobody to help us – those that visited us in the hospital choosing instead to continue on the same path they were on, and us trying to make sense of where to go from there.

So we try to make use of public services like homeless and food shelters only to find there aren’t any in the area at all, not unlike a lot of communities who’d really benefit from them. The stress of trying to survive in these conditions leaving us awake at all hours of the night to try and protect ourselves, from the nightmares and those who also walk those same streets at night, and when we finally do fall asleep, or at least it appears we are as we lay on a local park bench, still and alert but barely able to acknowledge anyone who comes near, we get the attention of a most unsuspecting kind – a young boy.

The boy obviously doesn’t know us, doesn’t know where we’ve come from or why we’re there, but he’s struck with the belief we could be dead or dying and in this moment does the only thing he can thing of and offers us his coat.

And the thought I hope to leave you with on this blog breakdown is – if only the rest of us could have such empathy for each other, perhaps none of us would be asleep on park benches.

Official Lyrics

Left the TV on
Better than the stove I jest
Of course to want to eat you’d have to have the will to live
The volume loud,
Like flares, they caution
She’s in the kitchen folding another load of laundry

Forgot to lock the door
An uninvited guest
Couldn’t hear them coming up with such careful footsteps
Saw them cross the hall
Knew then it was too late
Cut myself breaking the window,
I’d fall 3 floors before I wake

Huddled around they keep asking me

Are you asleep or are you dead?
Hard these days to tell any different
Is either better than the other?
So hard these days to tell

Spent the next couple days in bed
With wires on my heart, a bandage on my head
A bucket beside me for relief
Can’t move a muscle, can’t even blink

Huddled around, still they’re asking me

Are you asleep or are you dead?
Hard these days to tell any different
Is either better than the other?
So hard these days to tell

Next week I’d be released
The only one to make it out
Can’t live free holding onto this amount of guilt and doubt
So I pack what I need
Turn off all the lights
Put they key in the lock and leave everything else inside
And I park myself on a bench
Not a single shelter in miles
Eyelids frozen open keeping watch through the night
Felt a jab in my side, a little boy with curious eyes
Pulled up with a bag, his coat in his hands
Reached out as he wept
And he asked me
And he asked me

Are you asleep or are you dead?
Hard these days to tell any different
Is either better than the other?
So hard these days to tell

A Little More

Fun fact about me, I’m prone to some pretty vivid dreams and nightmares and have had them since I was little, like the one I mentioned briefly above. I’m one of those people that for some reason, tends to remember the bulk of them, and I also for stretches of time have experienced recurring dreams that not only repeat but evolve over time. They say dreams are a reflection of your subconscious wants, needs and desires as well as a reflection of your fears and painful experiences and I’m of the mind that that must be correct. Sometimes I take great care in rethinking what I dream about and what I’m trying to tell myself in those moments, and other times I’d rather push them all away from me entirely. But I think you can learn a lot about yourself when you just simply take the time and care to give yourself those moments, thinking through all the possibilities and outcomes of your decisions or non-decisions.

My dreams will probably come up a lot as I write more music so I hope you enjoy my own interpretations of them and maybe they’ll give you something interesting to think about, too.

Shelters in Ontario

If you’re in need of shelter in Ontario, there are some options to try at this link via eMentalHealth.ca.

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