Dream Songwriting

Henri Rousseau's 'The Dream'

Last night, after re-patching all my MIDI connections in the studio, I finally got to sleep at around 5am.

And I had the most vivid dream where I was playing a song I’d recorded on some fantastic bit of gear, the shape of which my brain can’t hold now that I’m awake. The song was ultra-poppy, in a 6/8, rollicking kind of way.

When I woke up, I could still hear the song in my head. So, I hurried downstairs and bashed it out on the piano. Sounds pretty good. But the weird thing is that it’s not the kind of thing I’d normally write. The chords are all over the shop and the vocal… well, to be honest, I’m not a good enough singer to sing it. The range is too big 🙁

I’d be interested to hear from any other songwriters who write songs in their sleep. This is the second time I’ve managed to carry a dream song into my waking world. The first time, I dreamt I met Michael Nesmith and he gave me this awesome country song.

The anxious part of dream songwriting is when you first wake: the song can quickly evaporate. I’ve had that happen quite a few times and the frustration is immense. You can hear wisps of the melody but it keeps slipping out of reach.

Maybe I should start sleeping with a little Casio next to the bed?

UPDATES ——————-

This news just in from Plans And Apologies lovely lad, Welsh Dave Williams:


I was interested in your post on song dreams as I have had them regularly. What often happens to me is I either dream of a song, or have a tune formulating itself in my head when I’m semi conscious just before sleep, and the next morning it comes back to me when I’m walking to town or wandering around the supermarket or something and usually fragments of the dream come with it.

I also seem to find that tunes I dream up are quite different from ones I think of when I’m conscious, mainly because I’m not putting my hands on a guitar and immediately figuring out a logical chord sequence, I’m trying to work
out what the precise noise in my head is and play it, and as it’s been arranged by my subconscious it’s usually pretty random.

Unfortunately, most of these songs end up shit.

What it always makes me think is, do non-songwriting types get tunes in their dreams as well, a concoction of whatever music they’ve heard that day rearranged and chopped up and stuck back together? Or is it the overworking songwriter’s brain constantly trying to work out new ways of sticking dem notes together? I don’t remember having any such dreams before I became obsessed with writing songs.

Apparently “Yesterday” came to Paul in his sleep. Or maybe I just made that up.

I’ll stop now.


I think he raises some good points there. Are there any non-songwriters out there who write in their sleep? And if you do, what does it sound like? God, that must be even more frustrating, not even knowing how to translate it into waking world music.

I dunno if Paul wrote ‘Yesterday’ in his sleep. I do know it was originally called ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ Yes.


Yet another roving report, this time from Matt ‘Where’s My Fucking iMac?’ Swan:

had a couple of pearlers, never could remember it properly in the morning… life gets in the way… or maybe breakfast.

We’re back to the scrambled eggs again, innit?