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When you dream

One of my favorite songs in the world is “When You Dream” by Barenaked Ladies. I was in college when Stunt came out, and I think I put the album on repeat for about 6 months. I recently rediscovered this album and had forgotten how GOOD it is. The last song on the album is a very ethereal, atmospheric piece about dreams. It’s beautiful musically, but what makes it one of my favorites are the lyrics. I am fascinated by the concept of dreams, and the dreams in the lyrics have very personal meanings for me. It’s one of those “How did they know exactly what I was thinking” kind of songs, so I have long held this song very close to my heart.

In the first weeks after we found out we were pregnant, I was listening to this song one morning at my desk, and decided to go online and get the lyrics. It had been awhile, and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with them. I read the first line, and it absolutely floored me, because for whatever reason, I had never noticed that line before. “With life just begun, my sleeping new son” … it caused a total paradigm shift for me. I had always thought that Steven Page was singing to the listener, very generally and hypothetically. When I read this line, I realized he was singing directly to his son. And the thought hit me instantly that our baby will have dreams. Real dreams. About anything and everything. And when this realization hit me, I listened to the song and read the lyrics, and I began crying, uncontrollable and ugly, for literally ten minutes. I couldn’t stop. It was this overwhelming sensation of pure and absolute joy. I was overcome. I only wish Michelle had been there with me at the time.

I truly and completely cannot wait to be a daddy. I can’t wait to see Michelle be a mommy. It’s going to be wonderful.

When You Dream — MP3

“When You Dream”
by Barenaked Ladies
With life just begun, my sleeping new son
has eyes that roll back in his head
They flutter and dart, he slows down his heart
and pictures a world past his bed
It’s hard to believe
As I watch you breathe
Your mind drifts and weaves

When you dream,
what do you dream about?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?
Do you dream about
music or mathematics
or planets too far for the eye?
Do you dream about
Jesus or quantum mechanics
or angels who sing lullabies?

His fontanelle pulses with lives that he’s lived
With memories he’ll learn to ignore
And when it is closed, he already knows
he’s forgotten all he knew before
But when sleep sets in
history begins
But the future will win

When you dream,
what do you dream about?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?
Are they colour or black and white,
Yiddish or English
or languages not yet conceived?
Are they silent or boisterous?
Do you hear noises just
loud enough to be perceived?
Do you hear Del Shannon’s “Runaway” playing
on transistor radio waves?
With so little experience,
your mind not yet cognizant
Are you wise beyond your few days?
When you dream,
what do you dream about?

2 thoughts on “When you dream”

  1. I love that song. And I haven’t listened to it in ages.

    Another one I’ve thought of recently is Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It,” since he’s singing to his son in that one too. It’s not as “dreamy” as the Barenaked Ladies’ song though.

    You were in college when Stunt came out? Hmm, I think I was in 3rd grade. Ha ha, just kidding … old man. :)

  2. Yeah, I was in college way back in the 1990’s … that was even before Al Gore invented flying cars and hoverboards.

    I love Ben Folds. “Gracie” is a great daddy song too.

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