One of my earliest memories as a kid was waking up and remembering dreams. Many of my adolescent dreams were boring and uneventful, but some were wild and crazy. One time I dreamed I was hanging out with Groucho Marx. That dream with Groucho probably happened because I used to watch reruns of his classic 1950’s television series “You Bet Your Life.”
Dreams have always fascinated me. It’s an easy way to live in another reality. When we dream we are convinced that the events we experience are real. Dreams are a succession of ideas, emotions, images and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.
Different cultures dating back thousands of years have written and discussed dreams and their significance. What is their meaning … these ancient cultures would ask?
The Sumerians in Mesopotamia left evidence of dreams written on clay tablets. “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” written in 2100 BC recounts the adventures of an ancient Mesopotamian king named Gilgamesh and is considered one of the world’s oldest literary works. His dreams were thought to be conduits between gods and men. Many of the dreams experienced by Gilgamesh were said to predict future events. The Mesopotamians believed that the soul, or some part of it, moved out from the body of the sleeping person during their dreaming and visited places and persons the dreamer saw in their sleep.
Egyptians wrote down their thoughts about dreams on papyrus starting around 1300 BC. They believed that dreams were like oracles, bringing messages from the gods. Dreams were so important to the Egyptians that they had dream interpreters called “Masters of the Secret Things” who were temple priests. These ancient Egyptians thought that the best way to receive divine revelation was through dreaming and thus they would induce dreams. To induce dreams Egyptians would go to sanctuaries and sleep on special “dream beds” in hope of receiving advice, comfort, or healing from the gods.
The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle wrote extensively about dreams. In 350 BC he wrote 3 chapters about dreams in his work, “Parva Naturalia.” Aristotle took a more scientific approach when discussing dreams. He concluded that dreaming was due to residual movements of the sensory organs. He felt dreams helped individuals diagnose illness and predict onset of diseases. He saw imagination as the result of sensory organs and subjective perception occurring after the disappearance of the sensed object. Dreams in Aristotle’s observations were not sent by a god or Gods, but was the product of experiences individuals had while awake, and then their imagination kicked in during dreaming.
During the Middle Ages dreams and dreaming were considered evil and associated with temptations caused by the Devil. During sleep this evil entity was believed to fill the mind with poisonous thoughts leading that person down the wrong path.
Dreams and dreaming have influenced modern society as well. For baby boomers the topic of dreams has been used in the soundtrack of their lives. It’s not difficult to find a song in the discography of your favorite musical artist with dream in the title.
Back in the 1950s my parents would play the song, “Dream” which was a jazz and pop standard with words and music written by Johnny Mercer (1944). The version I heard was the one by the Pied Pipers released in 1945.
Later on in 1954 the Chordettes had their big hit “Mr Sandman.” That was another song I heard on the phonograph during my youth.
Here are a few songs about dreams and dreaming released during the rock era:
“All I Have to Do Is Dream” – The Everly Brothers – 1958
“Follow That Dream” – Elvis Presley – 1962
“In Dreams” – Roy Orbison – 1963
“Last Night I Had The strangest Dream” – Simon and Garfunkel – 1964
“California Dreamin” – Mamas and Papas – 1966
“Daydream” – Lovin Spoonful – 1966
“Daydream Believer” – The Monkees – 1968
“Dream On” – Aerosmith -1973
“#9 Dream” – John Lennon – 1974
“Dreamer” – Supertramp – 1974
“Dream Weaver” – Gary Wright – 1975
“Dreams” – Fleetwood Mac – 1977
“Sweet Dreams” (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics – 1983
“These Dreams” – Heart – 1985
“Runnin’ Down A Dream” – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – 1989
Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied over the years.
Sigmund Freud referred to dreams as being the road to our unconscious. He believed dreams held huge significance to our unconscious thoughts, desires and feelings.
Carl Jung has described dreams as messages to the dreamer and feels that dreamers should pay attention to their dreams. He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can help uncover and resolve emotional problems and fears.
I feel dreams have significance and play an important part in our lives. Whether they are remembered or forgotten and considered nothing more than a collection of thoughts, they do have an impact on us. They may contain hidden messages. Taking a little time to try and understand your dreams could turn out to be highly rewarding and informative.
Dreams can give clues to areas of our lives which might require attention. Our dreams offer us the chance to see what is going on within the deepest parts of ourselves.
Many musicians have written songs that came directly from dreams. That tells me it might be a good idea to pay attention to your dreams. For instance the song “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Here is his story about the song.
“I was living in a little flat at the top of a house and I had a piano by my bed. I woke up one morning with a tune in my head and I thought, ‘Hey, I don’t know this tune – or do I?’ It was like a jazz melody. My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes; I thought maybe I’d just remembered it from the past. I went to the piano and found the chords to it, made sure I remembered it and then hawked it round to all my friends, asking what it was: ‘Do you know this? No one had heard it. It’s a good little tune, but I couldn’t have written it because I dreamt it.” Paul McCartney
For months he thought he had unconsciously plagiarized the tune from someone. Once he determined that he had indeed come up with it on his own from a dream, he started to work on the lyrics.
Here are some more examples of songs created by dreaming it. Dream Songs
“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?” Leonardo da Vinci
May all your dreams come true.