Dreams and Inspiration

15 Jan

I’ve written before on this blog about the mysterious nature of inspiration and its connection to the unconscious. And so this morning I woke up quite early – it must have been the excitement of its being my birthday – at the tail-end of a dream. As I did so, a woman was singing a melancholic, country-inflected song. I was aware of the verse playing but as soon as I’d woken up I could no longer recall it, leaving me with only the impression that it involved some kind of minor-major transposition. Lying there, though, I found that the words, chord progression and melody of the chorus remained inside my head. The lyric was pretty banal, but the melody wasn’t bad at all. All in all, it was a half-decent piece of Americana. How on earth does that happen? How can the unconscious mind compose a song, and one for somebody else to sing at that? It leads one to wonder how much of what we create consciously has actually been worked through at a subliminal level or during sleep. Answers on a virtual postcard, please…

Connected to this is a recurring dream that I have. The same old dream series are repeated on the cable TV that constitutes my slumbering mind. I shan’t bore you with accounts of them all – I’ve no wish to turn into one of those party bores who trap you in a corner and tediously recount every last detail of their dreamscapes. Every so often, though, a variation on the ‘dream band’ makes its appearance. In a nutshell, I’m the bass player and songwriter – as I was in the waking world, but here the stories diverge – in a mind-blowingly brilliant band, on the eve of making its debut appearance. For some reason, though, matters never progress beyond this. And can I remember any of these earth-shattering compositions? You’ve guessed it… I’m pretty sure that my unconscious mind is giving me a message of some kind here.

even longer ago...

A rock star playing in a dream band (well, that dress sense is a nightmare, anyway)

And how much of this morning’s melody can I now remember? Not a note of that either, I’m afraid. It seems that I shan’t be sending it to Lucinda Williams in Nashville, after all, and it’ll never top the country charts over in the USA. Ah, well, another dream shattered… At least, I should be able to fulfil my dream of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature – it’s just that there’ll be nobody else inside my head to see it.

My day off coinciding with my birthday and meeting up with my parents for lunch may go some way to compensate for all of this. And since I’ve been talking about anniversaries and remarkable music, I should also note that it’s 37 years today since the UK release of David Bowie’s Low album. It’s playing as I write this post and sounds as good to me as ever.

All text and image © PSR 2014

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16 Responses to “Dreams and Inspiration”

  1. A Mad Enthusiast January 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Happy birthday!

  2. thisyearinmusic January 15, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Good blog!

  3. www.laurensapala.com January 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Happy Birthday Paul! I am so grateful that you came into this world 🙂

  4. Paul Sutton Reeves January 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Thanks, Lauren! What a lovely thing to say 🙂

  5. evamarasca January 15, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    Paul you are an inspiration! I’ve just downloaded Low and I think it will be playing for a while!

    I find a lot of inspiration just before I go to bed, in that almost sleeping state of mind when I am ‘cataloguing’ my day. I also tend to dream up solution to problems that I am not able to crack in my waking hours, bizarrely enough they are usually related to something mathematical. Mind is magical!

    And Happy birthday!

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Hi Eva and thanks for your kind comments and wishes! I’m pleased to hear that you’re enjoying ‘Low’. ‘Sound and Vision’… what a song! I’m interested to hear that your mind solves problems during sleep. My mind turns things over and over in a half-conscious state but when I come to in the morning, I find that what I was thinking about was nonsense… Ho hum.

  6. Dimitris Manousakis January 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Happy Birthday Paul! Thanks for sharing this grate post!

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Hi Dimitris – great to hear from you and thanks very much for your kind words.

  7. Mari Biella January 16, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    And a belated happy birthday from me, Paul!

    Interesting post. I once had a similar experience, in that I awoke midway through a dream involving some music that my own unconscious mind must have composed. Bizarre, not least because I have no musical talent whatsoever. I also dream up fragments of stories. I keep a notepad near the bed just in case I wake up with a fabulous plot still fresh in my mind…

  8. Paul Sutton Reeves January 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi Mari and thanks for your belated wishes!

    I don’t think we understand even a tiny fraction of what our minds are up to, most of the time. I’ve never dreamt up stories. That sounds a very useful faculty to possess! If I did then I’m sure the ideas would seem to me to be amazing and then I’d be unable to recall them. I have used elements of my dreams in my fiction and dreams seem always to have played a prominent part in what I write. There’s an endless fascination to that other world we inhabit.

  9. Peter January 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    And a Happy Birthday from me as well. I also have those band dreams…where you are the bass player. Invariably at a far larger venue than any we actually played, realizing only once on stage and far too late to back out that we haven’t rehearsed for 20 or so, and with some kind of ridiculous predicament added for good measure (no trousers / balancing on a tower of wicker baskets etc). We were never under-rehearsed (perhaps more’s the pity), always wore our trousers, and never used wicker baskets as props….but the emotion though, absolutely true to life – cast your mind back if you will to the dressing room five minutes before our very first appearance on stage……’this is just absurd, what are we doing here!’. Please forgive me for breaking your dream-bore rule. Peter.

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 16, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi Pete – thanks for commenting and for your good wishes. It puts me a year ahead of you again, until Easter, at least.

      Ah, well, you of all people would be qualified to comment on those band dreams. And needless to say, you’re the guitarist in the dream band. That band is never under-rehearsed, though. As you say, there might have been a little more spontaneity had the real world one been so. I have that exact same dream but it’s in the context of amateur dramatics. Sweating backstage with half an hour to go before the performance, having somehow neglected to learn any of my words or cues, desperately trying to remember them… I think we just may be suffering from a little 21st century angst there… Did we really say ‘this is absurd’ and question what we were doing (I was as nervous as hell on that occasion) or was that in your dream?

  10. masgautsen January 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Happy belated birthday!

    This is so true about inspiration and dreams. Maybe you should have som empthy sheets of music next to your bed so you can write down the tune at once 🙂

  11. Paul Sutton Reeves January 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi Maja and thank you!

    Hmm, your suggestion just might work… The operations of the unconscious mind are strange indeed.

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