When I asked my dad if he knew the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, he wasn’t sure. It had been a long time since he looked at a track list from Rumours (if he ever had) and it wasn’t until the song was playing that we both realized we knew it. We had danced to it, sang to it, and enjoyed it on long car rides. It was one of those songs you never really forgot, something you listened to in childhood. It felt nostalgic, listening to Stevie Nicks’ powerful vocals on a car ride home with my dad.
While the song was playing, it was like a dam opened in my dad: suddenly he could recall what was happening with the band at the time Rumours came out; that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were breaking up, Mick Fleetwood was going through his own divorce, and the McVie’s were separating as well.
When you do the research, you learn that she wrote the song in ten minutes. Upon further research, you learn that the band wasn’t entirely behind the song. Nicks had begged the band to give it a try and they did. I think it’s important to note that despite the band’s trepidation, when my dad and I listened to the song, it was the one song he immediately knew, even if he hadn’t recognized the title.
After we listened to the song, my dad said: “Go and read the lyrics, because she’s telling a story. Fleetwood Mac always tells a story, but this is a good one” and so I did, and I realized that despite the upbeat tone of the song, the lyrics are very powerful. It’s a breakup song that doesn’t sound like one. Nicks is passive-aggressive as she croons, “Well who am I to keep you down” and that they should “listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness”. There is little heartbreak in this song, only a strong message of what someone will miss when they are gone.
Now, a lot older and a lot wiser since I last listened to the song, I like it for more than it’s catchy, upbeat tune. I can hear Nicks’ heartache about Buckingham. The lyrics mean a lot more to me now, after reading about their breakup (and all the breakups in the band), and I can appreciate that although the song was clearly about Buckingham, he still stood behind Nicks as an artist to help make the song better.
“Dreams” doesn’t feel like a song written in ten minutes. It feels like a song from the heart, something Nicks needed to get off her chest. The rest of Fleetwood Mac took a song they weren’t entirely sure of at first and made it a dream.
You can listen to the song here: