To say Fleetwood Mac’s 1976 masterpiece “Dreams” is cathartic only scratches the surface of how important a piece it is, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written & a pervasively intimate look at the emotional struggles the band was going through at the time. This tender ballad embodied the frustrations, exhaustion & introspective analysis singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks felt in the twilight moments of her relationship to bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, coming to terms with the notion that their time had run out & begrudgingly deferring to the alternative path life had chosen for them to proceed down. Through lines like “you say you want your freedom, well who am I to hold you down?” & “I keep my visions to myself” Nicks illustrates how she’s lost the will to argue anymore, permitting Buckingham to go his own way – no pun intended – in light of their disagreements, with the words “thunder only happens when it’s raining” & “players only love you when they’re playing” passive aggressively insinuating he was only ever temporarily committed to their relationship in the first place, only caring when it benefitted him & his songwriting process – Surprisingly enough, Nicks’ vocals for “Dreams” were recorded in one take, her scratch track so vulnerable & serene that she was unable to recreate its delicacy in subsequent tapings; This was for the best, though, as it allowed her true sadness & disparity to shine through, each melody feeling as if she was at the end of her rope, ready to call it quits & move on with her life, thus providing what is arguably the saddest performance on the entire record, an impressive feat considering she wrote the entire tune in a manner of minutes all on her lonesome.
As the rest of the band was similarly going through intense breakups & divorces at the time, Nicks’ lyrics held an additional layer of truth, creating a commentary that not only exposed her insecurities but the band’s as well, these relatable vulnerabilities in turn fueling the instrumentations they would provide. There’s a distinct sense of dread lining the song, brought to life by the dreary ethereality of achy guitar lines, mellow Rhodes piano & soft-spoken vocalizations present in the song’s composition, though rather than feeling hopeless it all comes off as a kind of somber acceptance, everyone melodically expressing their understanding that all good things must come to an end at some point – Peculiarly, drummer Mick Fleetwood’s rhythms convey this acceptance the most, his casual, delicate percussion patterns beating away at a consistently upbeat pace, as if to represent the unwavering persistence of time & the band’s need to continue on despite their sadness, grounding the rest of the performance with a mesmerizingly droning beat; Seeing as he’s pretty much the only member of Fleetwood Mac to survive the group’s issues unscathed, it’s fitting that he’d be the glue which holds the arrangement together – As mentioned before, “Dreams” is incredibly cathartic for the band, but it also works as an encouraging tale to distressed lovers out there dealing with the same issues, assuring them that looking out for oneself will be beneficial in the long run, no matter how painful it may seem at the time.
Stevie Nicks, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Nicks
"Dreams" is a song by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac from their eleventh studio album Rumours (1977). In the United States, "Dreams" was released as the second single from Rumours on March 24, 1977, while in the United Kingdom it was released as the third single in June 1977. A performance of "Dreams" on stage was used as the promotional music video.