Films are at the root of many songs. The hit movie American Gangster inspired Jay-Z’s 2007 album of the same name. Local band Kill Miss Pretty’s “Judy Garland,” begins “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” a line from The Wizard of Oz, a story that turns out to be the main character’s dream.
Dreams can be as inspiring to musicians as movies, leading to songs about the creative process, infatuation and wild beach parties with mean women and sharks. The songs we’ve compiled this week, like the dreams that prompted them, are weird, inspiring, funny and, in some cases, scary.
“Lucid Dream,” written by Joshua Manes of the Miami indie-rock duo Tree View Drive, begins: “I’m walking out against the tide/To chase a lucid dream/I left somewhere between the sheets/Where reality and fantasy collide.” When he wrote the song, Manes had just moved to a high-rise and was experiencing relationship problems, a stressful job and insomnia. “When I did sleep, I would have this vivid recurring dream about being in the ocean,” he recalls. “The waves were 20 stories high, like my new apartment, and crashing down on me. … No matter how hard I swam, the ocean kept pulling me in its own arbitrary direction.” Manes says the dream taught him that we all have worries and that perseverance is necessary to avoid drifting. The water, which felt like an obstacle in his dream, became his support. “By the second verse, the water is purifying me from my troubles, washing off my old mistakes,” he says. To hear “Lucid Dream,” from the band’s forthcoming album, Places You Forgot, visit Myspace.com/treeviewdrive.
Lyrics such as “You got the kind of vibe I’m looking for/Only want to shut the door and get on with the lovin’ that’s true,” may sound like the words of a guy with one thing on his mind. But Dave Sterling, singer-guitarist for Miami reggae-rock band Sunny Got Money, says the boy in“Dreaming About the Bedroom” is simply infatuated with a beautiful, flirtatious and shallow girl. “She has the boy literally dreaming about the possibility for true love as he wants to know everything about her; her true self,” he explains. “However, she is only interested in the more shallow areas of romance and leaves him brutalized by love. The likelihood of true love in this case is but a mere dream.” To hear “Dreaming About the Bedroom,” visitMyspace.com/sunnygotmoney.
Sentences that begin, “Well, when you go around just chasing your dreams … “ are often an attempt to snap some creative soul back to the harsh reality of life. But in “Dream Catcher,”Zachary Dewar sings that “chasing your dreams like fishes in the stream like wishes in the gleam of the stars” leads to “risk’s real reward/The pen that fought the sword/The thought that you shared not what you hoard.” Dewar, who formed West Palm Beach indie-folk duo the Dewarswith his twin brother, Anthony, says his song explores artists’ struggles to overcome the fears and doubts that plague them. The song’s ending is worthy of posting in any artist’s workspace: “Try to turn your perishables to cherishables/Make terrific of the terrible/Turn the awfulness to awesomeness/Make a miracle/Try to turn your sadness to gladness/Try to find the good out of the badness/Try to make the best out of the madness/Turn all the torturous to tickle, and get out of your pickles.” While the duo has released the 22-track Songs From the Neverglades, “Dream Catcher” is not yet available on an album. To hear the song, visit Myspace.com/thedewarbrothers.
Combine Jaws with surfers and mean women, and you get “Shark Teeth!” by Ricardo Guerrero, a.k.a. This Heart Electric. In his song, which opens with a twangy surf guitar and maniacal laughter, Guerrero recalls a crazy dream: “I woke up one day inside a dream/It was me but not me, you know what I mean?/All I knew, even you were dressed like machines/And Cannibal Corpse played right on the beach.” Guerrero says the song, which also describes a beach made of shark’s teeth instead of sand, resulted from a short-lived obsession with surf music. “I wanted to start a surf band momentarily, but that never happened, so I made this instead,” he explains. “The lyrics are inspired by recurring shark nightmares that I’ve had throughout my life — not full-blown nightmares, but intense moments of fear due to the presence of sharks.” To hear “Shark Teeth!” visit Myspace.com/thisheartelectric.
Mike Matthews, an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida international University, also wrote a tune about a dream and a fish. “The Fish Song,” shortened from its original title, “Fish, the Moon, and Deserts Turned to Sea,” depicts a time when deserts were seas and fish dreamed they could be free of the water and climb onto land. Matthews says the lyrics were inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic books and dreams he had as a child. “Being a former religious studies student, there’s a bit of cosmology slipped in there, too,” he adds. Matthews plays the song at solo gigs and with his Miami jazz-rock fusion band, Franklin’s Wheel, which will perform on Baynanza Biscayne Bay Cleanup Day April 17 at the Deering Estate in Miami. To hear “The Fish Song,” visit Myspace.com/mikematthewsmusic.
Contact Colleen Dougher at email@example.com.
This story was originally published March 9, 2010.