by Alexandra Pollard Contributor | Photos by WENN

Tags: Queen, The Beatles, St Vincent 

'I woke up in the middle of the night': 9 brilliant songs that came from dreams

Sometimes that phrase 'I could do that in my sleep' should be taken literally

 

Songs that came in from dreams, Yesterday, St Vincent, Queen, Killers Photo: WENN

Earlier this week, partway through a session to showcase his brilliant new music, Bill Baird told 6 Music's Lauren Laverne that ‘We’ll Meet Again Someday, Or We Won’t’ - which sounds like a woozy Kinks meets Nico’s ’These Days' - came to him in a dream. He’s in good company.

In fact, a surprising number of iconic songs came about when their creator was in a state of slumber. From The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ to Queen’s ‘The Prophet Song’ via St. Vincent’s ‘Huey Newton’, here are 9 brilliant songs that came from dreams.


 

St. Vincent - ‘Huey Newton’:


Annie Clark was under some pretty strong sedatives when she dreamt about famous Black Panther Huey Newton - which explains the lyrical stream of consciousness: “Feelings, flash cards / Fake knife, real ketchup.” Speaking of that night, she told Uncut, “I wrote the words a very furious frenzy, it was just free association. I was trying to be meta with it, and every line is tied to the next in a way that I don’t even understand. I did a lot of that. It has the feel of an extended Google search, and is set in the near future, after a long winter."


John Lennon - '#9 Dream’:


If you’ve always wondered what the hell “böwakawa poussé, poussé” means in the song’s chorus, the answer might disappoint you. It doesn’t mean anything. It came to Lennon in a dream, and he liked the way it sounded.


The Beatles - ‘Yesterday’:


Probably the most famous example of a dream-inspired song, Paul McCartney’s subconscious can’t have known the future phenomenon it was dreaming up. “I had a piano by my bedside,” explained McCartney, "and I must have dreamed it, because I tumbled out of bed and put my hands on the piano keys and I had a tune in my head. It was just all there, a complete thing. I couldn’t believe it. It came too easy. I went around for weeks playing the chords of the song for people, asking them, ‘Is this like something? I think I’ve written it.’ And people would say, ‘No, it’s not like anything else, but it’s good.’” It is indeed.


The Rolling Stones - ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’:


"I woke up in the middle of the night,” explained Keith Richard of one of the band’s most enduringly popular songs, “and put it down on a cassette. I thought it was great then. Went to sleep and when I woke up, it appeared to be as useful as another album track. It was the same with Mick too at the time, you know. It goes 'da-da, da-da-da'… and the words I’d written for that riff were 'I can’t get no satisfaction… '


Jimi Hendrix - ‘The Purple Haze’:


The 1967 track, which is one of Hendrix’s best known songs, was “all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.” In fact, the lyric “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky" was said to refer to a drowning man bursting through the water’s surface to fill his lungs with oxygen.


Queen - ‘The Prophet’s Song’:


The lyrics were inspired by a long stay Brian May underwent due to hepatitis in 1974. During this time, he had some bizarre fever-induced dreams that inspired him to create a lyric about someone who is tormented by a dream of a prophet foretelling the end of humanity: "I dreamed I saw on a moonlit stair/Spreading his hand on the multitude there/A man who cried for a love gone stale/And ice-cold hearts of charity bare.”


The Police - ‘Every Breath You Take’:


What does it say about the inner workings of Sting’s mind that one of the creepiest songs of all time came to him in a dream? "I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head,” he said of the song’s stalker-ish chorus, "sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realise at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control. These were the Reagan, Star Wars years."


The Killers - ‘Enterlude':


Brandon Flowers has “musical dreams” - a helpful affliction if you’re in his line of work, though he rarely remembers them. “This is the only time I’ve been able to remember one,” he said of ‘Enterlude’. "It sounds ridiculous but it was Kurt Cobain on a ship, in the clouds! He was singing this melody and I remember thinking he sounded like Bob Dylan, so that made it even weirder!” Even for a dream, that is pretty strange.


Florence + The Machine - ‘Only If For A Night’:


The 2011 song was dreamt up (literally) in a vision of Florence Welch’s late grandmother. “I had a really, really vivid dream about her,” explained Welch, "and, um, she was giving me advice in this dream. And it was really emotional, and I woke up crying. And [the song] is really inspired by that experience.”


Alexandra Pollard

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