"Laura" was one of the last songs written for The Haunted Man, because Natasha's label pressured her into writing it as they felt the album didn't have enough singles. This is the album's (and Bat For Lashes's) only co-written song (to date).
The record company kind of pressured me into writing it because they thought there weren’t enough singles. I thought, I feel really good about what I’ve written so far but if I’m going to do a collaborative thing it’s not going to be with just anyone. And I really liked "Video Games" from quite early on. So I used my time with Justin to get him to teach me about songwriting things like middle eights.
On the recording session with Justin Parker, she said:
I wrote Laura with [Video Games co-writer] Justin Parker. We played around the piano chords together and then I went away and did the vocal and melody. We just put it down that day and that's the recording I use, the first moment I sang that song. It captures that starkness and the feeling. The orchestral arrangement I wrote the day before we went to Abbey Road, then I quickly arranged it all.
According to Natasha, the song was written about a friend of hers the night before the writing session with Justin Parker she threw a “debauched” party at her flat in London, which left one of her friends – who was the inspiration behind the song and whose name is not Laura – somewhat broken the next day.
“She’s a best friend of mine but her name’s not Laura,” Khan clarifies. “It was written after an extreme debauched party and it’s about the fallout of that kind of comedown. But I think it’s a universal theme, like we’ve all known Lauras or we’ve all been Laura for a time. That need to be a kind of glamorous life-and-soul of the party… but underneath it’s a lonely place to be.”
Although the song is about her close friend, Natasha asked people to take it to their hearts and make their own meaning:
I guess the story’s in the lyrics. It was written about a close friend of mine, my experience I had with that person at a party and the aftermath of the party. But really I think that’s my own personal story that I don’t really want people to think about too much when they hear the song, because I think it’s the type of song that people take into their own hearts. It seems to affect people and they have their own story or their own Laura or their own memories of being like Laura. I think there’s a universal theme about vulnerability, escapism, and the way human beings try to be dazzling and fabulous and beautiful even when they’re really hurting on the inside. We all understand that. Sometimes we want to drink and dance on the tables and escape that feeling. It’s saying sometimes the real person and their vulnerability is really beautiful, and it doesn’t have to be sparkly and perfect.
The "Laura" party is referenced on the music video for "A Wall."
- Natasha Khan - vocals, strings and horns arrangement, songwriting, producer
- Justin Parker - piano, vocal producer and engineer, songwriting
- David Kosten - additional producer
- Dan Carey - producer, mixing engineer, engineer
- Sally Herbert - additional arrangement, conductor
- "Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man". 16 October 2012. Uncut.
- "Bat For Lashes returns, minus the dress-up to deliver her most direct and honest album yet". 30 August 2012. Loud and Quiet.
- "Bat For Lashes - Natasha Khan's Guide To New Album The Haunted Man". 12 October 2012. Q Magazine.
- Bleggi, Doug (30 August 2012). "The Haunted Songwriter: Interview with Bat For Lashes". Death and Taxes Mag. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014.
- Ferguson, Courtney (17 April 2013). "Breaking: The Answer to the Question "Is the Bat for Lashes Song 'Laura' About Laura Palmer?"". Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on 22 November 2017.