Arts Music Sounds

Music Break: “Insomnia”, Faithless

“Insomia”, Faithless

The lyrics are from personal experience. I didn’t suffer from insomnia, but I’d just had an abscess on my tooth. It was so painful it would keep me awake. The lines about having no electricity and reaching for the pen in the darkness were also from real life. I had an electricity meter and when the money ran out you’d get six or seven pounds of credit and then – “Boom!” – the lights would go out. So I used to write by candlelight.

That first line – “Deep in the bosom of the gentle night” – is not me channelling Dylan Thomas. That was forced on us by MTV because they felt the original first line – “I only smoke weed when I need to” – was too graphic. There were eyebrows raised about the lines “Making mad love to my girl on the heath / Tearing off tights with my teeth” but they managed to stay in.

None of us realised how the line “I can’t get no sleep” would resonate with generations of clubland audiences. Suddenly the song was being played to crowds who had arguably taken 50 quid’s worth of high-powered drugs and weren’t thinking of getting much sleep for days. If we’d tried to write about that deliberately, it would have turned out cheesy and corny, but afterwards you think: “Of course!”

Read on: “How we made: Insomnia”