Contributors to this interpretation included: Lauren Leichter, Stewy, Lisa (intro and endings), Gretchen, Thom, Silver Spgs, Darlene, Derik, Justine, Jill, EP, Carlene, Ava, and Gina.
"Like a heartbeat drives you mad...." That heartbeat is the essence of the song "Dreams." It is a heartbeat that is reminiscent of a hopeful love that has been lost to a world of loneliness. It begins as a harmonious pounding, in turn followed by the haunting cry of a guitar. This heartbeat is not only a part of Stevie's beautifully written lyrics that surround the loneliness of lost love and the hope that envelops these feelings, but also in the music and arrangement of the song.
"Dreams" was Fleetwood Mac's only number one hit. Stevie's poetic lyrics are beautifully arranged to make this song a true gem in Fleetwood Mac's song writing history and is forever a memory of the reality of our own dreams.
"Dreams" is the painful story of love gone astray and is probably one of most poignant love songs ever written. It was created during the tumultuous recording sessions of the album, Rumours. There was a time during these sessions when there wasn't much for Stevie to do in the studio, so she found her way to a room in the back corners of the studio and wrote the lyrics to "Dreams."
Now here you go again you say you want your freedom.
Having to let go of something you care for dearly is not always easy. Setting someone you love free is even harder. For reasons best known to Stevie, it is believed she broke off her romantic relations with Lindsey Buckingham during the recording sessions of Rumours. Stevie and Lindsey had been living together for almost six years prior to their joining Fleetwood Mac and had not only committed to each other in love, but in their music too. After joining Fleetwood Mac, their musical world changed from that as a duo to becoming part of a group. The compromises and the strains of their new success must have caused inner turmoil within them both as their love started to unravel. Much of this turmoil can be seen in most of the songs they wrote on the album Rumours. Stevie has said in several interviews that she cooked for Lindsey and took care of him when they were a couple. In her mind, she was meeting his needs and it is likely that she felt he was not responding to hers at the time this song was written. Stevie senses Lindsey's need to be free, although we are not sure what this freedom suggests. Her use of the word "again" displays her anger towards the time he devoted to his music and the time she devoted to him.
Well who am I to keep you down.
Stevie will not stand in the way of Lindsey's freedom. She recognizes that staying together means a lot of sacrifices in their careers. She is saying that she doesn't have the right to ask him for that sacrifice if he's unhappy.
It's only right that you should play the way you feel it.
Lindsey should "play" what is in his heart. Lindsey plays music, Stevie does not. She uses the word "play" to compare the feelings of his heart to the playing of his music. He does play the way he feels it throughout this song, constantly answering her ethereal lyrics with the resounding echo of his guitar.
But listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness like a heartbeat...drives you mad, in the stillness of remembering what you had...and what you lost...and what you had.
This verse signals her warning to him that when she is gone he will feel such impending loneliness that it will drive him mad. This loneliness was something both of them saw as the highest point of suffering. (This is also seen in the lyrics to "Go Your Own Way," "you can call it another lonely day.")
The repetitiveness of the line "what you had and what you lost" emphasizes the importance of what he will loose. It is this vicious cycle of having something and then letting it go that will leave him with such intense feelings of loneliness.
The "stillness" is very symbolic as it represents the possible feeling one has when they first awaken, possibly after dreaming. Their thoughts are very vivid and real and this is the stillness that makes them realize the reality of it all. Here, the reality, according to Stevie, is that Lindsey will wake up alone, not necessarily in the sense of rising, but in his senses awakening and he will see things more clearly (the stillness). (Did he "wake up alone with it all" as he wrote some 10 years later in "Big Love"?)
Thunder only happens when it's raining.
The thunder represents the turmoil in the relationship, while the rain represents the calm after the storm. It seems to be a statement of the duality of their relationship and how they relate to each other. Thunder and rain. These are very powerful lines. Here we see that rain and thunder go together, and often follow each other. You can't have one without the other (poetically speaking).
Players only love you when they're playing.
Stevie has said that the other four members of the band were "players" because they arranged and played music. She felt she was not needed me in the studio a lot of the time and they only wanted Lindsey since he was one of the players. "Players only love you when they're playing" but I love you all the time - is what the line could also read. Stevie may have felt isolated when they were working without her on arranging music and may have felt she had lost Lindsey at some point to his music.
Say... women... they will come and they will go...when the rain washes you clean... you'll know.
Here, Stevie has turned the song into something hopeful. She recognizes that after all is said and done, no matter who comes into their lives, they will always have that special bond. (See also the song "Silver Springs") Lindsey apparently seeked out other relationships after Stevie broke it off with him. While Stevie may have felt jealous, she also recognized that these other relationships were insignificant compared to their bond.
"When the rain washes you clean, you'll know" refers to the point in Lindsey's life where he is "cleansed" of all the entanglements that are clouding his relationship with Stevie. Stevie probably never saw their break up as the end, she was hopeful he would "know" what was right and they would be together.
Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions, I keep my visions to myself. It's only me who wants to wrap around your dreams and...have you any dreams you'd like to sell.
Stevie sees things clearly (crystal visions) and does not share these crystal visions. She may have been tortured by this relationship and had many nightmares about it because of her love for him and wished that she could have seen inside Lindsey's dreams to capture his feelings. If he could have sold them to her, she could have.
"Dreams" is an actual interpretation of Stevie's dreams. It's timeless. In this dream, she was sentencing Lindsey to a life of loneliness if that life did not include her. It is interesting to see the different viewpoints between Stevie and Lindsey on the ending of their relationship. From Stevie's hopeful feelings that surround "Dreams," to the feelings of disbelief over why the relationship has ended in Lindsey's "Go Your Own Way." Whatever the differences, one thing is the same, they both display strong feelings of hurt and anger. In a recent interview, Stevie stated that "Dreams" was hopeful, while "Go Your Own Way" was not.
Stevie has a way of teaching her listeners about the lessons of life based on her own experiences. Regardless if it was Stevie or Lindsey who really wanted their freedom, the one thing she seems to feel strongly about was the impending loneliness of it all. She likens that loneliness in a very soft and fragile place that stands still in time, where dreams seem to shatter.
(The interpretations to these lyrics were compiled through discussions on the message boards of the Penguin, The Ledge. It is entirely possible that the artists had something completely different in mind.)