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The 10 Best ‘Dream Songs’ of All Time: Pop Tunes Inspired by Sleep

Updated on April 30, 2011
The ultimate dream song is by Queensryche.
The ultimate dream song is by Queensryche. | Source

For nearly two years I’ve been working on a novel about dreams and astral projection. To help keep me motivated, I long ago compiled a “Dream Songs” playlist on my iPod. This same playlist will, naturally, serve as the soundtrack album for the inevitable big budget, 3D film version of my book. (Hey, as long as we’re talking about dreams, right?)

Dreams were a common source of inspiration for poets and songwriters long before the pop/rock era. In fact my all-time favorite poem, Kubla Kahn by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is subtitled “A Vision in a Dream,” and is said to be the direct result of a nightmare.

Of the 40 tracks on my “Dream Songs” playlist, the following 10 are the ones I find most inspiring, moving, haunting, thought-provoking or just plain enjoyable. Thus, I arrogantly proclaim them The 10 Best Dream Songs of All Time! (Of course I’ll admit the topic is open to debate, and welcome all fellow dream song enthusiasts to chime in.)

1. Silent Lucidity by Queensryche – This 1990 rock opus is, in large part, the entire inspiration for my novel. With its haunting lyrics and operatic, Pink Floyd-inspired orchestration, it explores the dark wonders of lucid dreaming and astral travel with such evocative power that listening to it is ultimately (and fittingly) a transcendent experience. Best lyric: “There’s a place I like to hide; a doorway that I run through in the night.”

2. In Dreams by Roy Orbison – While many of Orbison’s songs are dream-based, this 1963 classic is his most direct exploration of the concept of dreaming as a viable (and sometimes preferable) alternative to standard consciousness. In fact, the song captures the mood and essence of a dream experience so vividly, director David Lynch revived it for a key scene in his dream logic mystery masterpiece “Blue Velvet” in 1986. Best lyric: “A candy colored clown they call the sandman, tiptoes to my room every night.”

3. Enter Sandman by Metallica – Yes, that kickass intro-riff is way overplayed at sporting events, but this 1991 smash remains one of the metal gods’ most powerful and influential creations. It’s also one of the few dream songs to deal directly and effectively with nightmares. Best lyric: “Sleep with one eye open; gripping your pillow tight.”

4. All I Have to Do is Dream by The Everly Brothers – The “dreamy” vocal harmonies of Don and Phil Everly were never showcased more beautifully than on this 1958 hit, which – like In Dreams – laments the tendency of the subconscious mind to tease us with romantic visions we can’t replicate in our waking lives. The still-haunting song was recently used (or abused, some might say) in the advertising campaign for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Best lyric: “I need you so; that I could die; I love you so; and that is why; whenever I want you; all I have to do is dream.”

5. Dream Weaver by Gary Wright – Wright, himself, once claimed that the music and lyrics for his signature 1976 hit seemed to flow out of him “as if written by an unseen source.” That feeling of otherworldly influence is beautifully conveyed in the song’s deceptively sparse, New Agey arrangement, which features only keyboards, drums, bass and a soaring synthesizer. Best lyric: “Fly me high through the starry skies; maybe to an astral plane; across the highways of fantasy; help me forget today’s pain.”

6. Sleeping to Dream by Jason Mraz – This is an unduly obscure gem from the talented singer-songwriter’s 2004 “Live at Eagles Ballroom” album. While it explores basically the same concept the Orbison and Everly Brothers hits, Mraz makes it fresh with his impassioned vocals and some glorious acoustic guitar work that shimmers hauntingly in the airy live setting. Best lyric: “I found myself in the riches (your eyes, your lips, your hair); you were everywhere out there; but I woke up in the ditches.”

7. Higher by Creed – Front man Scott Stapp reportedly wrote this 1999 hit after some successful experimentation with lucid dreaming. Yet his lyrics also touch upon the tantalizing concept of a possible link between dreams and the afterlife – a common conceit in many cultures and religions. Musically it’s a fairly typical product of the grunge era, but makes nice use of an Iron Maiden-inspired guitar riff in the chorus. Best lyric: “When dreaming I’m guided to another world; time and time again; at sunrise I fight to stay asleep; ’cause I don’t want to leave the comfort of this place.”

8. The Dream Police by Cheap Trick – Despised by many, I must confess I’m a sucker for this borderline-novelty song smash from 1979. I love the vaguely Orwellian lyrics, the semi-demented vocals and even the cloyingly calculated power pop hook. To me the whole thing has the wonderfully campy conviction of a superhero TV show theme song. Best lyric: “’Cause they’re waiting for me; they’re looking for me; every single night they’re driving me insane; those men inside my brain.”

9. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her by Simon and Garfunkel – No singing voice was ever more suited to conjuring dreamscapes than Art Garfunkel’s. Those ethereal pipes soar on this 1966 ballad, in which songwriter Paul Simon recounts a haunting dream that reaffirms a real-world love. Unlike most dream-based love ballads, however, this one ends happily as the sleeper awakes to find the girl of his dreams lying “warm and near.” Best lyric: “What a dream I had; pressed in organdy; clothed in crinoline; of smoky burgundy; softer than the rain.”

10. Fireflies by Owl City – My 11-year-old daughter turned me on to this wonderfully quirky little techno-pop hit from 2009. Some clever synthesizer and voice modulation work create an appropriately dreamy atmosphere, while the lyrics seem to playfully explore the thin line between dreams and insomnia-inspired hallucinations. Best lyric: “’Cause I’d get a thousand hugs; from ten thousand lightning bugs; as they tried to teach me how to dance.”


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    • nahinsongs profile image

      Mohammad Rahatul Islam 

      2 years ago from Dhaka

      Song selecting was awesome, here you find few song like that in Bengali Language

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Here's a decent dream playlist that might add to this list.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Nice Hub! I have to say that I enjoy most of these songs! Great selection. Voting Up and Useful!



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