Dream Gates

Dream Gates


Dream Satisfaction: Keith Richards dreams a hit song

posted by Robert Moss

Keith-Richards 1972.jpg“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” may be the Rolling Stones’ best-known hit; it has certainly set millions writhing. Ironically, it was the product of dream satisfaction, a creative nocturnal episode described by Keith Richards in colorful detail in a recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air::

“I go to bed as usual with my guitar, and I wake up the next morning, and I see that the tape is run to the very end. And I think, ‘Well, I didn’t do anything. Maybe I hit a button when I was asleep.’ So I put it back to the beginning and pushed play and there, in some sort of ghostly version, is [the opening lines to ‘Satisfaction’]. It was a whole verse of it. And after that, there’s 40 minutes of me snoring. But there’s the song in its embryo, and I actually dreamt the damned thing.”


You can listen to the whole interview here

That dreams can be creative muses is no news to musicians, of course. “Truth
moves through us when we sleep,” Roseanne Cash wrote in a song she titled “The
Wheel”. Many musicians and composers will recognize what she meant. 

Billy Joel
has kept a notepad by his bed to jot down ideas and lyrics for songs that come
to him in his dreams. Sleeping in an attic room in London, Paul McCartney dreamed he
heard a classical string ensemble playing and woke with “a lovely tune” in his
head. He played it on an upright piano in the room. “I liked the melody a lot,
but because I’d dreamed it, I couldn’t believe I’d written it. I thought, ‘No,
I’ve never written anything like this before.But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!When fellow-Beatles reassured him the
tune was something new, he found the words and recorded the hit song
“Yesterday”. For more on the role of the dream factory in rock music, see my Secret History of Dreaming.
Keith Richards in 1972


  • http://www.wandaburch.com Wanda Burch

    I could probably say that all of your books are my favorite books, but the SECRET HISTORY Of DREAMING tells some of my favorite stories gleaned from the dreaming lives of people whose names resonate with all of us.
    So many musicians relate stories of dreaming their songs, often their best songs or songs that remind them of a deeper part of their lives. One of my favorite dream tales is one shared by Jorma Kaukonen – founder of Jefferson Airplane – dreaming “River of Time.” Reviewers noted that in the CD by the same name he had “mined” the music that first influenced his playing in his youth – country music and acoustic blues. River of Time came to him in a dream of his grandmother, Ida, who guided him through a visit to those loved ones who had passed on. The dream and the song put him in touch with his musical roots and with his familial roots. My grandmother’s name was Ida, so this song and this story resonated strongly with me.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Wanda – Thanks for the terrific information on how Jorma Kaukonen’s dream encounter with his deceased grandmother gave him “River of Time”. As you know, dream visits with departed friends and relatives are often important in the live and creative process of popular musicians (and many others). I give quite a few examples in The Secret History of Dreaming, and may have more to say about it in this blog. Ida was Jorma’s paternal grandmother, and presumably Finnish. I wonder whether some of the old Finnish dreaming tradition reflected in the Kalevala was alive in the family.

  • Savannah

    The Secret History of Dreaming does have an amazing collection of dreams that make the world go round (not money, dreams – no matter what the songs say about that :-). I found quite a directory of dream inspired songs here, and I am sure there are more where those came from: http://www.songfacts.com/category:songs_inspired_by_dreams.php. Coincidentally while responding to another dreamer’s report of a dream that prominently featured mountains as a symbol of strength a few days ago, I was inspired to pull up a YouTube recording of the late Dave Carter performing The Mountain. In his preamble I learnt the lyrics of that song also, were inspired by a dream.

  • Savannah

    PS. I notice the link above does not link and I suspect it’s the full stop at the end of the sentence messing up the URL. I will try once more:
    http://www.songfacts.com/category:songs_inspired_by_dreams.php

  • http://dreamersight.wordpress.com/ Nancy

    Robert, you mentioned Billy Joel, whose “River of Dreams” title song has some great lyrics:
    In the middle of the night
    I go walking in my sleep
    From the mountains of faith
    To the river so deep
    I must be lookin’ for something
    Something sacred i lost
    But the river is wide
    And it’s too hard to cross
    even though I know the river is wide
    I walk down every evening and stand on the shore
    I try to cross to the opposite side
    So I can finally find what I’ve been looking for……………
    I was told Billy’s ex-wife Christie Brinkley created the dream-y cover art for the album, night sky with stars and many floating images.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Savannah – Thanks for the link. I suspect that a little more research will turn up not only 51 dream-inspired songs, but ten times as many. Maybe we’ll make it our assignment to at least get the number up to 57, as in Heinz’ famous 57 varieties….

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Nancy – Yep, that’s a dreamy song, also dream-inspired. Great what can come when we go walking in our sleep (dreamwalking as opposed to sleepwalking).

  • nan

    i was reading a little book yesterday and in the back of the book- the girl who loved wild horses – there is a song that Black Elk heard a stallion sing in a dream:
    My horses, prancing they are coming,
    My horses, neighing they are coming,
    Prancing, they are coming.
    All over the universe they come.
    They will dance; may you behold them.
    A horse nation, they will dance,
    May you behold them.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Nan – Thanks for reminding us about Black Elk and his dream songs. For many indigenous peoples, one of the great gifts of dreaming are power songs that will call up a certain energy.

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