I’m in the midst of editing a book on the New York avant garde duo Suicide and this morning on the train I was minded to listen again to Bruce Springsteen’s cover of their song ‘Dream Baby Dream’, which I assume boosted their bank accounts by a fistful of dollars when his album High Hopes was released last year. Bruce’s version is a sight more melodic than the more challenging original, but Marty Rev and Alan Vega were still delighted with the outcome, just as Don McLean was when Madonna recorded ‘American Pie’. How do you feel about this, he was asked. “It means I’ll never have to work again,” replied McLean.
In order to locate ‘Dream Baby Dream’ on my iPod, I scanned the alphabetical song list and, when it was over, left it playing, so that every song I listened to this morning began with the word ‘dream’. After Bruce came Newton Faulkner (‘Dream Catch Me’), Neil Finn (‘Dream Date’), Procol Harum (‘A Dream In Every Home’), Clannad (‘A Dream In The Night’), Bobby Darin (‘Dream Lover’, an old favourite), Jeff Buckley (‘Dream Mother’), Aerosmith (‘Dream On’, a half-hearted bash at emulating ‘Stairway To Heaven’ I always thought), Depeche Mode (‘Dream On’ – a different song, which I thought was U2 until I checked the screen), The Who (‘Dream One’, an un-Who-like experimental guitars and drums only demo from Tommy that I really don’t recall listening to before and probably won’t again), Talking Heads (‘Dream Operator’) and, just as the train was pulling into Waterloo, Abba* (‘Dream World’, a track they left on the shelf until their box set was released in 1994).
Nor was this the entire list of songs beginning with ‘Dream’ as had I started at the beginning, ie before ‘Dream Baby Dream’, I’d have listened to ‘Dream, All I Have To Do’ by R.E.M. (the Everly Brothers’ song, retitled), ‘Dream A Lie’ by UB40, ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ by Mama Cass and ‘Dream Baby’ by Roy Orbison, this latter two both songs of exquisite loveliness.
Next up – and I took a glance to check – will be a song called ‘Dreamer’ (Denis Wilson), then ‘Dreaming…’ (Blondie, Kate Bush, Manic Street Preachers, The Who [several versions of ‘ … From The Waist’] and Cowboy Junkies), then ‘Dreams’ (Allman Brothers, Corrs, Cranberries, Fleetwood Mac [several versions including Corrs]), then ‘Dreams…’ followed by something else (John Martyn, Blondie and The Jam) until we finally move on to songs beginning with ‘Dress…’.
Of course these songs are only those that begin with the word ‘Dream’ or a variation of it. If I was to count the number with the word ‘Dream’ elsewhere in the title, I’m pretty sure it would be second only to ‘Love’ or the pronouns ‘I’, ‘He’, ‘She’ or ‘You’. One day maybe I’ll start at the first song (‘Abandoned Love’ by The Everly Brothers) and move all the way to the last (‘Zweet Zursday’ by Duke Ellington), which is actually followed by a bunch beginning with digits, a total of 16,261 songs now so it won’t happen tomorrow.
*Waterloo, Abba… unintentional!