Dream Songs by
(6 Stories)

Prompted By Beatles vs Stones

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I’ve had numerous occasions during my life when I dreamed something fantastic…breakthrough…life changing…only to forget it when I woke up (cry cry).  Is it possible, I’ve wondered, to dream something important and useful, and actually realize it?

Well, amazingly, I’ve heard of two instances where that really happened, if the interviewees are to be believed–one Beatle and one Stone!

A few years ago, I heard a radio interview on NPR, I think it was, of Paul McCartney–an intimate affair recorded of Paul in a small club atmosphere,  with Paul at the piano. Toward the end of the interview, he was asked if he had ever written a song in his sleep.  “Why yes,” Paul replied, “I dreamed ‘Yesterday,’ and woke up in time to record it.” (something to that effect).  Needless to say, I was very impressed that one of the great songs written in my lifetime was born in a dream…

Not to be outdone (as you might expect), a Stone has described a similar aha! moment.  Just a few days ago, to commemorate the release of Keith Richards’ latest album, NPR replayed a Terry Gross Fresh Air interview with Keith Richards from a few years ago.  Terry asked Keith if he had ever dreamed any Rolling Stones songs. “Yes,” Keith replied, and proceeded to tell the story of going to bed one evening (without describing what substance accompanied him), clicking record on his cassette recorder, and then waking up the next morning without memory of the night before. “I hit rewind on my recorder, and the first thing I heard was “dum dum, da da da, da da da, dum dum…” [the first several notes of “Satisfaction”], and then 40 minutes of snoring!”

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40 years in the enterprise software industry in Silicon Valley, with a lot of non-profit arts board experience. French Canadian New England roots, distantly related (I'm guessing) to Jack Kerouac, and inspired by his free spirit.

Characterizations: right on!


  1. David Rock says:

    Interesting coincidence here, though unclear re: exactly what was going on in the Keith Richards’ story.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Good stories about great songs.

  3. rosie says:

    I’ve dreamed full poems or the basis and then awakened to write them. One was an ode to Barcelona, which is a city that I’ve always wanted to visit and when I finally did, was not at all disappointed. I really really enjoyed your story and the memories that accompany it. Sometimes I wonder if there are any Jungians on Retrospect, who are aware of his theories in relationship to these kinds of events.

    • Marc says:

      Wow, Rosie, that’s amazing that you could dream up a poem and then have enough memory to wake up and document it! Do you feel like those are your better poems? I can’t imagine being able to do that, really… I imagine you enjoyed the movie “Vicky Christina Barcelona!”

  4. rosie says:

    Yes, they are often inspired and if I am not interrupted, then with a little modification, are among the better ones. At least that is the feedback I often get from friends who enjoy poetry. But this is common among scientists as well, I’m sure you have heard the stories of how a scientist is working on a theory or a problem, and wake up with the basis of a solution. As of late it happens a little less.

  5. Susan says:

    I read in some trash tabloid that Prince Charles keeps a notebook beside his bed to capture those dream thoughts upon waking. Perhaps one reason that he and Diana didn’t last. But I know the feeling, struggling out of the dream state and trying to keep a grasp on the insight that was so clear just moments before.

  6. Great dream-state recovery tales, Mark! I’ve often dreamt vividly and occasionally written fragments or bits I retained. But to have “Yesterday” and “Satisfaction” come out of dreamland. Amazing. Both songs are so distinctly characteristic of the contrasting spirits of the two groups.

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