I came up with "Lay Me Down" in the parking garage of an IKEA.
I remember it so clearly. Having just recently moved to New York, as one does, I needed to go to IKEA and while I was there, this riff just popped in my head and then the verses and chorus came with it, in addition to a high falsetto chorus melody. I proceeded to hum all of this to myself for HOURS (as we all know, IKEA is not a quick trip. There's so much furniture and meatballs, not to mention a plethora of 500 Days Of Summer references to make). I was starting to go a little cuckoo. But the second I returned from IKEA, I recorded what I had and I was thrilled. In that jibberish melody I had, the words "Lay Me Down" were included for whatever reason. So I kind of wrote the lyrics backwards based on that. Jack was responsible for simplifying the melodies in the choruses. He said the melody should work in tandem with the chords to give it a more anthemic Foo Fighters quality and he was right. It's catchier than it was.
One of my favorite things about songwriting is when you have a riff or a lyric or something that just sits around, never knowing what to do with it and then you write a song all of sudden and go "Yes! Now I can use this thing!" The ending of "Lay Me Down" was just that. I had the meat of the song for ages but never knew how to end it. I never knew what to do after that second chorus. So I decided to do a solo and then the obvious transition of going back to a chorus and ending the song. But then Jack said to scrap that and just end it. And I remember initially thinking, "Isn't it weird to end a song with a guitar solo without going back to a chorus?" To which Jack of course thought: fuck no! So I needed to make it longer. And then it hit me that I could finally use this riff that had exclusively lived in my head for years, always in this half time feel. Where it came from was kind of interesting, in that it was birthed as something to play over an existing song. For some reason, whenever I would think of the song "Belt" by Say Anything, I always felt this riff would have been awesome to have as a lead over the very end of the song and I would always add it when I would hum that song in my head. Since Say Anything so rudely never asked me how they should end "Belt," I finally decided to take it myself and popped it in to "Lay Me Down" and it's one of my favorite riffs I've ever written, as well as one of my favorite moments on the album.
One of the main differences between the demo and the final, as you can hear below, is that the verses initially had a very cheesy Coldplay-esque piano part going over the bassline. Once I recorded it with Rocky, he very astutely suggested we scrap it. He could not have been more right. I love that bassline and scrapping it allows the bass to shine. Not to mention the piano just completely came out of nowhere. We had our old bass player switching to keys for a very brief period and I think I was trying to shoehorn something in for him to play but it just didn't gel in this one. But hear for yourself. Maybe you disagree with me. Doubtful, but who knows. I will say I also love how the original GarageBand synths made the final recording.
A final note on the recording process. A word that we came accustomed to hearing come out of Rocky Gallo's mouth was "girth." A great word. "Needs more girth!" The ending of this song was totally infused with Rocky's obsession with girth. So girth was added. First step was the solo itself. As you can hear from the demo, the solo itself pretty much stayed the same, but Jack was responsible for that very Thin Lizzy-esque dueling guitar octaves that really raise the back half of the solo section. Always love doing the "classic rock" back-to-back pose with my lead guitar player(s) when performing this one live. But the main girth is in the rhythm tracks. This is a little "Inside Baseball" for some, but there are probably six tracks of rhythm guitar going on here, all on different guitars. There is a even a distorted bass track where I played chords on a bass just to satisfy Rocky's insatiable appetite for girth. He was right. This song is big as fuck.