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Literary Analysis of 'Dreams' by Fleetwood Mac

In: English and Literature

Submitted By tedderm11
Words 1172
Pages 5
Meghan Tedder 4/01/2012
College Writing II
Literary Analysis
[Broken] Dreams The album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is considered to be one of the best albums of all time by critics (Rumours). This album was the peak of the band’s success but also represented the end of several relationships within the group. During the time the album was made, drummer Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce, band members John and Christine McVie were separated, and Stevie Nick’s eight year relationship with Lindsey Buckingham had ended. Through the tension, the band was able to produce a mix of emotionally charged songs. Within the album, “Dreams” received the best feedback. The song talks about how a guy that wants his freedom by being single, but also the inevitability of loneliness he will feel once he realizes what he’s lost. When analyzing the lyrics the complexity of emotions is apparent and familiar to many audiences. The first verse, “Now here you go again. You say you want your freedom. Well who am I to keep you down?” sets the stage for the breakup (Fleetwood Mac). The use of the word again shows the frustration Stevie felt when Buckingham was not trying to meet her needs and instead wanted the freedom to do things for himself. The wording, “keep you down” applies to the idea that Stevie felt she did not have the right to control his independence. With a more accepting tone Stevie sings, “It’s only right that you should play the way you feel it” but continues with a warning (Fleetwood Mac). “But listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness like a heartbeat” (Fleetwood Mac). At this point in the music a louder steady drumming begins which alternates with the cry of the guitar. A heartbeat is continuous, subconscious, and uncontrollable. When loneliness is similar, it can be hard to avoid and like the lyrics say, “drives you mad” (Fleetwood Mac). A sense of sadness sets in as the song continues, “In the stillness of remembering what you had and what you lost” (Fleetwood Mac). These lyrics give the audience an image of the man as the loneliness sets in, perhaps alone in an apartment struck by the silence and missing the sound of human interaction he shared before with the woman. The repetition of the last couple lines plays into the lack of variety in thoughts when isolated in this way.
Symbols clash emphasizing the next line, “Thunder only happens when it’s raining” (Fleetwood Mac). The idea presented is that there’s a buildup (rain) leading to a breakup (thunder). This imagery also relates back to the lyrics about stillness because after a storm like in a breakup there’s silence. “Players only love you when they’re playing” any woman would back up this line (Fleetwood Mac). Guys who are egotistic might seem genuine at first but there’s always a selfish reason behind their actions. The last line in the verse, “say women they will come and they will go, when the rain washes you clean you’ll know” expresses that women will walk in and out of a man’s life and when the man comes to this realization he will be able to see the promise he could not before in the relationship he had (Fleetwood Mac).
Vulnerability comes out in the last verse as Nick admits she had pictured them having a longer relationship, “Now, here I go again, I see the crystal visions. I keep my visions to myself” (Fleetwood Mac). She also reveals how much she cared for the man by saying, “It’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams” (Fleetwood Mac). Then by asking, “Have you any dreams to sell?” showing that she still cares enough to want his dreams to be accomplished (Fleetwood Mac). The song ties up by repeating the chorus.
“Rumours” theme of lost love and chaos within a band became the inspiration for a Glee episode also. During the episode the Glee team starts to divide over many issues. Finn is concerned that Quinn is cheating on him with Sam because of a rumor. Santana is upset because Brittany announced on her web show that she “played for another team” (Murphy). April Rhodes comes back to visit Will and even gives him the idea to devote the lesson that week to Fleetwood Mac. During her visit they meet for dinner and her romantic feelings became apparent by her low cut shirt and her need to be close to Will at every chance. They introduce the album to the club by singing a duet of “Dreams”. April takes the lead in a confessional tone while Will sings along harmoniously. The upbeat version they put together was able to catch the Glee member’s attention enough for them to reflect on their relationships and what they could be giving up. By the end of the song Finn and Quinn are swaying and smiling at each other again but after we see it has had an alternative effect on Artie. After leaving the classroom he confronts Brittany about her relationship with Santana and states that “If I know that you spent even a little time sharing yourself with someone else; that there’s one other person in your life that can provide you things that I’m supposed to provide. It’s just too much for me to take” following the premise “Who am I to hold you down?”(Murphy). “Dreams” represents emotions many listeners can relate to through their own breakup experiences. It deals with the pain felt having to let someone go that you love. However, when you read a little more into the lyrics there is a bitter sweetness. Parts of it sound as if Nick is taking the first steps towards being okay with what had happened and gaining back the ability to look at the positives of the relationship like what she did right and also the good times they had. By doing this Nick has gained the confidence to say that there was a meaningful bond; one that involved plans and common dreams for the future without feeling discouraged. In a sense, this bond cannot be easily replaced and while the person is trying to fill the space, loneliness will set in and, “You’ll know” (Fleetwood Mac). There’s a lasting sense of maturity throughout the song in the ability for Nick to see from an outsiders perspective both sides to the situation. The lesson to be learned through the song was that the person who ends the relationship can also be the person to feel more loneliness and also experience wonder about what they chose to pass up and the dreams they could be missing out on.

Murphy, Ryan. Rumours. Fox. Glee, 03 May 2011. Television.
Nicks, Stevie, and Christine McVie. "Dreams." Perf. John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood. Rec. 4 Feb. 1977. Rumours. Fleetwood Mac. Warner Bros. Records, 1977. CD.
"Rumours." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. <>.

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