Aug 20, 2012

Monday Music Duel #9: Dreams

I don't think anybody noticed that I missed last Monday's music duel, so let's just clock up a rather emphatic 7-2 victory to Dido for Thank You and move on to today's epic clash of rock 'n' roll titans.

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

I must confess I've never gravitated towards Fleetwood Mac. Something about their folky whimsical style always made me feel uncomfortable; like they were speaking truths I didn't want to hear. Perhaps they were. 

Dreams is from the 1977 album Rumours, which I'm reliably informed is one of those great popular music landmarks: incredibly difficult to produce, but a much-vaunted achievement in song-writing and musicality. Still, Stevie Nicks wrote Dreams in ten minutes, and it wound up being their only US number one hit, so I'll take that with a grain of salt.

That's perhaps harsh, and indicative of how awkward I find myself feeling while listening to this fairly simple little ditty about a break-up, and the message that what you think might be freedom could actually end up trapping you. "Thunder only happens when it's raining/Players only love you when you're playing" goes the chorus, a warning that the sheen of attraction can quickly wear off. Women, you see, they may come and they may go, but "When the rain washes you clean you'll know". Ain't no hiding reality after a shower, baby. 

Nicks' rough-edged trills perfectly complement the minor chord progressions and occasional guitar twangs. Dreams is perfectly named: the whole effect of the song is to paint a cloudy, dreamlike state where confusion gives way to knowing acceptance (even if I still don't understand what a "dream of loneliness" is). Whether I like this or not is hard to decide, as it does make me feel somewhat like I'm watching the world go by through a fogged-up window.

Dreams by Van Halen

They may not be the most well-known opening notes in rock 'n' roll, but they'd be up there. Enough to make fans of big hair 80s bands don the stars & stripe pants a la Sammy Hagar and start rocking out.

From 1986's 5150 album, Dreams is everything 80s rock could be and should be; an anthemic, fist-pumping classic, with some wailing guitar solo work from Eddie Van Halen. No wonder the band made a charmingly self-aggrandising second music video showing all their fans going nuts for a performance circa 1993, complete with crowd control and helicopter oversight (It's a treat, and the source of my Hagar pants joke.)

Dreams is a one-song motivational campaign. "Higher and higher, straight up we'll climb/Higher and higher, leave it all behind" Hagar belts out, gravel tones in full flight (much like the Blue Angels stunt pilots in the hilarious first music video, cashing in on the Top Gun craze, no doubt).

I'm being mocking, but honestly, I can't think of any woman who wouldn't want to have Hagar look at them and sing "So baby dry your eyes/Save all the tears you've cried/Oh, that's what dreams are made of". Come to think of it, I can't think of any man who could resist that either. Dreams delivers what it promises: to sweep you off your feet, inspire you and show you a rocking good time. All you've got to do is spread your wings.

Verdict: Van Halen. For inspiration, perms and shirtless drummers.


  1. Surprising no one, I'm going with van halen. Somewhat surprisingly, I nearly didn't. I've always preferred the earlier David Lee Roth era VH over the later, much more successful outfit fronted by Hagar. While hagar helped launch the band into the mainstream, he did so with being a bland, unthreatening character with lyrics to match. Say what you like about Roth (and there is PLENTY to say) but at least he was interesting.

    You're rightly identified Rumours as one of those landmark albums Nat, and it definitely is. But I can't go with their song here, for somepletely arbitrary reasons- I used to work in a store, and this song was one of the ones on repeat over the loudspeakers I must have heard it around 500 times, and I never want to hear it again.

  2. Van Halen was exactly what I needed to hear this morning! Great stuff.

  3. This is not even a question Van Halen's Dreams over Stevie Nicks whinning over a breakup anyday

  4. I vote for the Corrs.

    (... I honestly had no idea it was a Fleetwood Mac song.)

  5. Bad 80's rock makes me die a little inside. Maybe that rain that Stevie sings about will help me feel less dirty for listening to it.

    Fleetwood Mac for me.

  6. Yep, Eddie and the gang for me too - I've never warmed to Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps due to their over-appearance on commercial FM radio during the 80's or perhaps just cause I find their style a bit airy and uninspiring.

    OTOH, Van Halen and all of that 80's rock is so cliched it's almost a self-parody these days. But because of that, I find you can rock-out hard to it and either take it seriously or take the piss... Van Halen's Dreams is great car singing music - it gets my vote.

  7. I loves me some folks country rock &/or blues. I now have recorded music dating back to before my parents were born, even been known to play some on my guitars.
    When it came out Dreams was excellent.

    But the same problem as Disco Stu, it was killed by repetition. Along with every other Fleetwood Mac song. Can't stand it anymore. growing up in a small country town the local radio station did actually manage to play more than "both types of music". Unfortunately Fleetwood Mac was modern & safe so it got hammered. Damn you 2AY (and all I ever won was a 24 case of Coca Cola).

    Van Halen Dreams lifts & rocks. My dreams soar not whine. I could also watch high performance aerobatics all day.

    PS: I missed last weeks but figured you were extra busy, so no whining here.

  8. I was just listening to this song, and am i the only one who thinks it sounds similar to the Perfect Strangers theme song . The actuality that the song came out along the same time as the show doesn’t help matters. Break Up Messages