top of page

Big O Week Number 7 - Dreams

In 1986 when David Lynch hit the big time with his amazing "Blue Velvet" Roy Orbison wasn't best pleased with the song being the favourite of psychotic personification of evil Frank played by Dennis Hopper, but soon realised that Lynch had tapped into the subconscious undercurrents of tragedy that underpin many Big O numbers, not least the theme of dreams and sense of loss that recurs so often in his songs: (Leah, Dream Baby, Blue Bayou etc).

Lynch triggered a massive resurgence of interest in Orbison, and in particular "In Dreams" his most undoubted masterpiece.

A candy coloured clown they call the sandman,

Tiptoes to my room every night

Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper

Go to sleep, everything is alright.

I close my eyes

And drift away

Into the magic night, I softly say

A silent prayer like dreamers do

To fall asleep to dream

My dreams of you

So he walks and talks with her etc etc but

Just before the dawn

I awake and find you’re gone

I can’t help it, I can’t help it, if I cry,

I remember that you said goodbye,

Only in dreams

Can I see you in dreams….

What can I add? Perfection of loneliness after your lover has left you. One has the uneasy feeling that she may be dead, even though it is quite clear that she has only left him. It feels as though he is a man in mourning. The saddest most yearning song of all time. Unless:

On Roy's posthumously released Mystery Girl there are at least 2 songs that consciously revisit and echo or answer his old hits, like a man who is returning to the scenes of his youth for one last time.

The first is California Blue, a deliberate echo, or rather update, of the classic Blue Bayou

The second is “In the Real World”, a riposte to In Dreams - beginning with the words

"In dreams we do so many things

we set aside the rules we know

and fly above the world so high

in great and shining wings

if only we could always live in dreams"

if only we could make of life what in dreams it seems....."

In the real world we must say world we must say real goodbyes

no matter if the love will live

it will never die

It's as though he knew he would soon die (he didn't although he had told people he was having chest pains) remembering his first wife who died in a motor accident, his three dead sons, his current love Claudine, this has got to be the saddest song by someone who wrote the saddest songs. But in it, he is saying that it is the life that is lived, not the life of dreams, that is worthwhile. Coming from the world's greatest balladeer of dreams and love and loss, this is a final triumph.

Yes this is Roy really riding off into the sunset:

"I love you

and you love me,

but sometimes we must let it be

in the real world

in the real world".

bottom of page