The Strokes song that came to Julian Casablancas in a dream: “It just really blew my mind”

Meta Description: Discover the dreamy inspiration behind The Strokes’ “Ask Me Anything.” Learn how Julian Casablancas’ dream influenced this iconic track from the album First Impressions of Earth.

The Strokes’ “Ask Me Anything”: A Dreamy Songwriting Inspiration

Songwriting inspiration can often come when you least expect it. It can strike mid-conversation, on your commute, or even while you’re getting your eight hours in. Countless artists have claimed that certain songs came to them in dreams, from Paul McCartney to The Rolling Stones, and NYC indie icons The Strokes are no exception.

The Dream Behind The Strokes’ “Ask Me Anything”

The Strokes made things difficult for themselves when they released their debut album, Is This It, in 2001. It was an indie rock record of such high quality that it seemed impossible to follow, but the band refused to buckle under the pressure. They followed it up with Room on Fire in 2003, reasserting themselves as staples of that New York City scene, though Julian Casablancas wasn’t entirely happy with it.

Another two years passed, and as if by clockwork, The Strokes returned with yet another dose of impeccable guitar music. First Impressions of Earth featured future genre classics like ‘You Only Live Once,’ but it also featured a lovely album-only track titled ‘Ask Me Anything,’ which saw them swapping their guitars for a Mellotron.

Julian Casablancas’ Dream and Songwriting Inspiration

‘Ask Me Anything’ is a downtempo, dreamy track, so it makes sense that it first came to frontman Julian Casablancas while he was fast asleep. Remembering the writing process during an interview with Rolling Stone, Casablancas explained that the initial idea for the song came to him during a dream, but the execution of the track was a little different from what he imagined during REM.

Initially, he didn’t intend for the track to be a slow, emotional ballad. Rather, he saw it as the kind of piece that the Scissor Sisters might write. “The song in my dream was a little faster than the one that made the record,” he explained, “So much so that I thought it was a Scissor Sisters song.”

Unaware that he was the one unconsciously writing it, Casablancas remembered thinking how cool the song sounded. “It just really blew my mind,” he stated, “It took me a while to realize I’d made it up myself.” He didn’t see himself singing it over a Mellotron; instead, he heard it filtered through the high-pitched tones of Jake Shears.

“It really messed with my head,” he surmised, “but I liked it.” He certainly liked it enough to include it at the midpoint of The Strokes’ third record, though he didn’t go as far as to recruit Shears to take on the vocal parts. Rather than committing to creating an electroclashing Scissor Sisters track, he took up a microphone and pulled in Nick Valensi to play Mellotron on what would become one of the most emotional tracks on First Impressions of Earth.

The Impact of “Ask Me Anything” on The Strokes’ Album

Amidst classic indie rock hits like ‘Razorblade’ and ‘Heart In A Cage,’ which reasserted their capability for catchy riffs, ‘Ask Me Anything’ provided the record with a new depth. As Casablancas repeats the phrase, “I’ve got nothing to say,” over and over, his hopelessness is palpable. The warm yet distant sounds of the Mellotron only serve to enhance this feeling.

Though ‘Ask Me Anything’ may not have taken the form that Casablancas once envisioned for it, it did add a whole new dimension to First Impressions of Earth. Still, we’d love to live out Casablancas’ dream and hear a Scissor Sisters’ take on the track.

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