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Deconstructing “Bed For Sale”

January 16, 2013

newagentSo onto track 4 on the album…

Back in 2009 when I was starting out with song-writing and live performance I wrote track 4 from “Other People’s Hats” titled “Bed For Sale“.

I was watching an interview with the songwriters from Squeeze Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford. They were telling the story of how they met. It was via one of those notes you will see in a newsagent’s window. I thought it was pretty amazing that such a simple device brought about one of the best songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. One of them commented “..there among the notes for a bed for sale…” and it stuck in my mind. The title “Bed For Sale” stayed with me and a few days later I was doing a songwriting session when I had no idea if something would come out of it.

I thought about why someone would sell a bed. I cannot imagine it’s particularly hygienic or commonplace. Why would someone sell a bed? Was it a couple that had split up or perhaps someone had died? All of this was pouring onto the page while I let the first words that came into my head get onto paper.

Bed for sale, sign in a window caught my eye I had to stare.
Alongside lonely hearts and car parts, washing machines and jumble sales.
From the outside looking in it’s so easy
But the truth lies within, within their story and we all have stories.

The song uses a drop D tuning (DADGBE) which lets you really hammer that open D major chord with all six strings. You have to change some of the chord shapes and you can get some interesting sounds by doing this. The ‘train beat’ drum part is in fact a drum loop as is the jaws harp you can hear in the mix. A very country feel off the song is hardly surprising given the amount of American country music played in my house during my childhood. (Not very authentic country all of the time but plenty of country clichés in the chords and parts).

The second verse tells one of the possible reasons for this note in the newsagent window.

Bed for sale, two careless owners took for granted what they had.
Caught up in the sheets of another lies were told and hearts were torn.

By this time I figured out what the song was really about (let’s face it it’s not about a bed). Generally people are quite pass remarkable about other people’s relationships. It’s different when you’re inside the bubble of the relationship and you won’t necessarily see the world as others do. I wondered about the imaginary couple in the second verse and asked how did this happen? That gave me the middle 8 section:

How did it come to this ? A four by three in a window.
How did it come to this ? Have we nothing else to show?

You cannot put a price on a relationship.

Bed for sale memories are extra never underestimate the cost
Underneath her pillow lies the secret you’ll find me there if we get lost

No, I don’t know what that last line means either… one for my analyst I guess….

This song has been really well received at live shows and even requested so I might just put this out as a single to radio…

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