“Sleep on the Floor” by The Lumineers
“Sleep on the Floor” is based on both a more general reality and one specific to professional musicians like The Lumineers. The former, most simply put, would be what is commonly referred to as rural-to-urban drift, i.e. individuals migrating to the big city in hopes of having their associated dreams fulfilled.
Meanwhile the two core members of The Lumineers, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, have had their own fair share of rural-to-urban experiences. Both come from a part of New Jersey called Ramsey, a locality with an estimated population of under 15,000 people. But they moved to New York City in pursuit of the dream.
And to give you an example of what they went through, let’s take the words of Wesley Schultz, who says that he was “working three jobs to pay the rent”. So they subsequently relocated to Denver, a move which, from the looks of things, didn’t make much difference from a financial standpoint.
So putting all of this together, it’s like many people move to the big city in pursuit of dreams which ultimately aren’t realized. And for the likes of professional musicians, what that means in more practical terms is that they are forced to hold down day jobs to make ends meet, which in turn significantly limits the time and energy they have to dedicate to their artistry.
“Sleep on the Floor”
So with all of that in mind the term “sleep on the floor”, which is never actually mentioned in the lyrics, is one that conjures up images of poverty, if you will, as in not having enough money to afford a bed.
It may also allude to the concept of vagabonding, i.e. sleeping around at different friends’ places and thus, under some circumstances, having to settle for a makeshift bed, i.e. one that may be on the floor. Both of these are viable conclusions within the context of this song.
And that’s because outside of alluding to the hardship of ‘paying the rent’ in an ultimately-depressing big city environment, this piece is also meant to point to The Lumineers having eventually made the decision to tour fulltime.
And as they explained it, said choice seems to have been encouraged by a desire to escape the high cost of living in places like Denver and New York City.
Then there is also a religious element featured in this song, with “Jesus Christ” and one “Father Brennan” being mentioned therein. Also interesting to note in that regard is that this piece is derived from an album entitled Cleopatra which, as implied by said title, is partially reliant on Ancient Egyptian symbolism.
But trying to delve too deeply into this matter may result in opening a can of worms. Rather we will conclude by saying that even setting the religious element of this track aside, there’s a lot going on in “Sleep on the Floor”. And in terms of its thesis sentiment, it would appear to be advising the addressee, who may well be a romantic interest of the singer, to remain strong under the challenges big city life has to offer.
The Lumineers and “Sleep on the Floor”
The Lumineers are a folk-rock act who are considered to hail from Denver, Colorado. Currently only the two founders of the cause, Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz, are holding the brand down. But at the time this track was dropped, by Dualtone Records on 8 April 2016, they were joined by cellist Neyla Pekarek. Neyla left the group in 2018.
The aforementioned multi-instrumentalist Jeremiah and lead singer Wesley also wrote this song. And it was produced by one Simone Felice.
This single is derived from Cleopatra, The Lumineers’ second studio album. Their first, itself being entitled “The Lumineers”, came out in 2021. They have also released another, “III”, in 2019.
Thus far, “Cleopatra” is the only of their albums to have topped the Billboard 200 (with the other two falling just a spot short). And “Sleep on the Floor”, which performed best on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart, contributed to that success.
The official visual to this track serves as part of a larger music-video compilation, consisting of four other songs from Cleopatra, entitled The Ballad of Cleopatra. And the overall director of the project is Isaac Ravishankara.
What music genre is “Sleep on the Floor”?
It is purely a folk rock song.
Was this a single release?
Yes. It was Cleopatra’s fourth and final single. The other singles birthed by “Cleopatra” are: