Seattle-based folk-rock band Fleet Foxes' second album Helplessness Blues has a reoccurring theme running through it of familial duty and responsibility. This song finds frontman Robin Pecknold singing "the borrower's debt is the only regret of my youth." "I think that and a few other songs on the record are dealing with the same thing," Pecknold told UK newspaper The Independent. "With the idea of how much are you taking, and how much are you giving back – just generally, in relationships and so on. Like for me, I've just been really focused on music, and there were times when there was just no room in my head for anything or anyone else – so the people around me were giving themselves, and I wasn't giving much back because I was focused on the record. That started really bothering me!"
Pecknold suggests in the song that the remedy for his woes would be to head to Innisfree, by which he means the Irish island romanticized by the Irish poet WB Yeats. "I will lay down in the sand and let the ocean carry me to Innisfree like pollen on the breeze," he sings. "It's from the W B Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, which my grandma typed out and put on the wall of their cabin, as if to say, 'this is our Innisfree'," the singer explained to The Independent. "My grandpa built the cabin in the Seventies, I guess, and my parents were married there. Me and my brother went up there fairly late in making the record, saw that poem on the wall again, and kinda nicked it from my grandma."
While making Helplessness Blues, Pecknold broke up with his girlfriend of five years. "We ended up breaking up because of the record," he told Q magazine. "It took all of my attention and my capacity for being present in the moment."
The break-up is reflected in this song. He explained to Q: "'Bedouin Dress' is about how in relationships I've felt that I've had a lot of capacity to give back. And sometimes that's because I've been so focused on music. If I wasn't really driven to make records, I don't even know if I would have those thoughts. It's a weird self-fulfilling prophecy."