Ripe Vinyl #3 | Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Text and graphics by Naomi Karyamsetty. 

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Disclaimer: I’m not very fond of critical writing about music, and I’m bad at this lyric interpreting thing. So I’m a little bit of a hypocrite.

Lorde once described Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours as the perfect record, so I count myself in good company. My friend and I would listen to it over and over again last semester, perfect as it was for not-yet-summer nights that retained a semblance of pleasant weather. All the songs on the album are, without exception, lovely—but I’ve chosen Dreams, the second, as the unfortunate subject of my rant.

Listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness/Like a heartbeat drives you mad/In the stillness of remembering what you had/And what you lost

Is she talking about her lover’s loneliness, or her own? Because it’s clear that this guy is pretty much lost in life, hoping pleasure will fill the unexplained void in his heart. Her description of the feeling is so detailed, it makes you think she’s experienced it, too—perhaps at this very moment, as she’s letting him go.

Listening to the lyrics, you’re left in no doubt that she’s unhappy. It’s like she knows too much about the world to hope that it will give him what he’s looking for; her assured cynicism appeals to the aspiring skeptic in me. Her deeply perceptive nature doesn’t comfort her, either—”I keep my visions to myself,” she sings, giving off an eerie Cassandra-like vibe (why not another link).

Thunder only happens when it's raining/Players only love you when they're playing/Women, they will come and they will go/When the rain washes you clean, you'll know

The chorus seems mildly nonsensical at first blush, but the melancholia in the vocals infuses it with layers of meaning. The song conveniently ends on this ambiguous note, leaving you wondering whether she wants him to come back to her, or whether she, too, will be gone by then. Is she hopeful, or resigned? I tend to think the latter—maybe her cynicism is contagious. The matter-of-fact (smooth to the point of indifference) instrumentation reinforces this feeling. Maybe she’s encouraging herself to let it go, too.

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