A quick Google search of ‘dream songs’ turns up a nearly infinite list of suitable contenders for this broad category of tunes. Certainly there are thousands upon thousands of songs either with “dream” in their title or within the lyrics, and for good reason. Dreams (like songs) are abstract and fleeting creatures of imagination that make up a significant part of our lives. And the murky and ethereal nature of dreams makes them the perfect muse for inspiring art across the mediums.
Like music, I am, in many ways, obsessed with dreams. Lucid dreams, dream meanings, bad dreams, REM-sleep, movies about dreams; I could talk about it all for days if only people would listen to me. I am also a very nostalgic person, so I love having dreams that allow for a kind of vicarious return to the past, for an adventure with old friends or characters laying dormant in the subconscious imagination. Songs function similarly in their ability to evoke nostalgia and emotional responses that are not always so easy to access in our less-than-surreal waking lives.
Like I said before, there is no shortage of dream songs out there, and it can be a fun experiment to browse through your own favorite artists and see just how many songs take on the ‘dream theme.’ That is essentially how the following playlist came to be. I took a good look at the music that I already love and created a mix of songs set to the theme of dreaming.
“Car” by Built to Spill: One of my all time favorite mix starters, that also happens to have one of my all time favorite lyrical passages about dreams: “If I don’t die or worse I’m gonna need a nap / at best I’ll be asleep when you get back / I wanna see it when you find out what comets stars and moons are all about” and later “I wanna see the movies of my dreams” which is repeated in all its lyrical glory by Doug Martsch’s acute treble singing voice. Beautiful and relevant dream imagery and one of the coolest dream related ideas ever: dream movies. I do want to see the movies of my dreams, Doug! Where can we make this happen? I’m sure our friends at Apple are already hard at work on the laser projecting dream-tablet, I just hope I’m still alive and healthily dreaming when it finally comes out.
“Apocalypse Dreams” by Tame Impala: The music of these Australian psychedelic rockers is a perfect incantation of what I would consider ‘dream music’. With a retro feel from late 1960s early 1970s psych-rock, Tame Impala’s reverb-laden tracks explore the world of psychedelia and strange imagination to great effect. “Apocalypse Dreams” off Lonerism is a perfect example of Tame Impala’s ‘head in the clouds’ style. The song is simultaneously hopeful and desolate, and the perfect tune for the aspiring dreamer, so long as you are open to the idea of the end of the world.
“At Night in Dreams” by White Denim: This Austin-based quartet is one of my favorite bands in the second wave of retro-garage rock that has gained more and more popularity over the past couple years. Mixing blues, punk, jazz, and rock in an impressive display of musicianship and high-energy live shows, White Denim is one to keep an eye on. “At night in Dreams” is my favorite White Denim song, and it’s about dreams!
“Hot Dreams” by Timber Timbre: I’m a huge fan of Timber Timbre’s bizarre ‘lurking through the swamp’ style. They consistently put out some of the creepiest music I’ve ever heard, and I listen to a lot of heavy/dark music. But Timber Timbre brings something different to the table, something distinct, and their songs are beautiful and addicting. “Hot Dreams” (off their new record of the same name) is a snails paced tune even by Timber Timbre standards. It takes a little patience to get through, but it’s about dreams and it does a good job of conveying their mastery over the weirdness/beauty duality.
“Edie’s Dream” by Suuns: Not sure if it’s just me here, but it seems like Canada has been cranking out some awesome bands as of late. Suuns (out of Montreal) is one of them. This nebulous track is driven by a simple repeating series of bass chords and minimalist ambient guitar. Turns out that it works perfectly as the foundation for a catchy and mesmerizing dream-track from our Canadian buddies. The video of dreamy forest scenery adds to the theme nicely.
“Peace on the Rise” by Chad VanGaalen: I envy Chad VanGaalen’s talent, not only as a superb musician but also as a phenomenal visual artist. The haunting alien dream world for the track “Peace on the Rise” demonstrates pretty much why I feel this way, and I highly recommend giving it a view. With psychedelic and original sci-fi style art and strong weirdo-folk music to match, this is surely the work of an ascendant dreamer and a talented one at that.
“Dreaming” by Tennis: This Denver-based husband/wife duo is the epitome of dreamy. Blond-haired, blue-eyed lovers successfully living the indie pop dream, touring the country singing about sailing and water birds? They also happen to be real good at it. They also have a song called “Dreaming.” There’s just no way I could leave these hometown heroes off the playlist of dreams . . .
“The Clarity” by Sleep: Well, with all the jangly indie pop going on about dreams and feelings, I had to include at least one heavy one. Stoner metal’s founding fathers (Sleep) just came out with a new single after nearly twenty years of hibernation. Despite their foggy (and undoubtedly sleep-filled) dormancy, Sleep doesn’t miss a beat with “The Clarity.” In fact, to the delight of stoner/doom metal fans around the globe, “The Clarity” it is one of their cleanest, heaviest, monster-beast recordings yet. Twenty years after their hour-long stoner metal manifesto: “Dopesmoker,” Sleep is still bellowing on about their favorite pastime in “The Clarity.” Dedication I suppose, “Through dream / sleep / and in waking.”
“Cream of Gold” by Pavement: Led by front-man (and in many ways indie rock’s founding wizard) Stephen Malkmus, Pavement ‘paved’ the way for subsequent generations of indie rock with their eccentric lyrics and loose, jangly, garage rock sound. They are undoubtedly one of my all time favorite bands, and “Cream of Gold” happens to be one of my favorite Pavement songs. Again, luckily for the playlist of dreams, “Cream of Gold” is on-theme with a specific dream lyric that is etched into my mind as a kind of weird Pavement-based life mantra: “Time is a one-way track and I’m never coming back / I dream in beige why’d you leave me so far now.” Pretty powerful stuff, and when set to the heavy yet gloriously warm riffage found in “Cream of Gold,” you get a close-to-perfect song from a genre defining band in their prime. I also love that Stephen Malkmus randomly colors dreams as beige, something about this simple detail resonates with me to no end.
“Satan Gave me a Taco” by Beck: To be fair, just about any early Beck song could be about a dream. This master of suburban 90s trash-poetry and eccentric lyrical antics is better known now days for his mellowed-out (albeit still brilliant) indie folk tunes. “Satan Gave me a Taco” is a ‘throwbeck’ the 90s dream-world version of one of my musical heroes. Just singin’ about Satan, taco stands, and smoking heroine . . . You know, dream stuff.