Yellowgold

The official website showcasing the music of Yellowgold, produced by Jason Howell.

Writing with your dreams (part one)

I suppose one key point here is that you have to be able to dream lucidly to pull this off effectively. Or at least work on trying to recall your dreams every morning. It's something I've done for as long as I can remember. Back in High School, I was so fascinated by lucid dreaming that I checked out a bunch of books from the library on ways to enhance that ability and effectively turn it on as I slept. I'm not entirely sure that reading those books actually enhanced anything when it came to my ability to dream lucidly, but the intent was there. And throughout life, I've always tried as best I could to retain my dreams when I wake in the morning. So I'm sure it helped in that pursuit.

With "Writing on the Wall", I awoke from a particularly spaced out and foggy dream in that it had a very particular mood to it. And as I was jumping through that universe, I recall a very specific moment where I had a guitar, and was playing to myself a super slow, hazed acoustic guitar melody and singing part of what you hear in the recording. Something along the lines of "Never seen so far the writing on the wall. Illusions are clear....{yadda yadda}." I also heard an orchestral string over the top.

I awoke from that dream and lay silently in my bed. In that morning haze, I lay there, fully realizing that I had played a song in my dream. Thankfully, I could remember the chord progression, a unique identifying riff, the vocal melody, and roughly some of the lyrics. I lay there stone cold for about ten minutes, forcing myself to stay *just underneath* being fully awake. Awake enough to understand that I wanted to retain this song but just underneath full awareness to keep the dream I had within comfortable reach in my mind.

One thing I'm sure anyone can agree with about dreams. If you've had a dream that hits close enough to that waking moment, it's those first few seconds/minutes right after you start to come back to waking life that you still remember anything at all about what you just dreamt. It's when you wake up and make a concerted effort to really *try* to remember the dream that the details start to push themselves just far enough out of reach that the entire landscape begins to get mushy and fade away. It can be pretty frustrating. It's like you know that there were people there, or a place, but try as hard as you might, that image fades further and further away until, not ten minutes later, all you remember is that you had a good dream and nothing more.

So then, the trick here is to force yourself to dwell in that semi-awake state for as long as you can, all the while letting that song loop in your mind. The longer you stay silent, the more of a chance you have to really absorb what was there in the first place. It's tricky, but it works.

Once I felt comfortable with what I had, I allowed myself to awaken fully. And I'm not kidding you, the very first thing I did, aside from wiping the sleep from my eyes, was charge into my studio, hit record on a minidisc (remember those? Perfect for spur of the moment idea recordings), pick up my acoustic, find the key that I dreamt in, and start to find my way through the progression. I knew I had to act pretty fast cause the longer I really *thought* about it... or tried to remember "that one part", whatever it may be, well then I'm suddenly trying to recall specific details of my dream. And as I stated earlier, you run the risk of losing it entirely when you do that.

So I made sure I acted on pure instinct. And uttered what I had, most of it complete nonsense. The point wasn't to suddenly have a great song. The point was to get as much of the details of what I had dreamt out into a recorded form so I could refer to it later. Now unfortunately, try as I might, I was able to dig up that first recording. I did find, however, the second recording that I made that same morning, after I had combed through the first one and solidified a few ideas. I'm struck by how much of this early recording made it into the final song, lyrics and all. Most of the lyrics were pure instinct and made up on the fly. Most of them stayed in the final track!

It doesn't sound very good, I'll attest to that. Hey, I hadn't even had any coffee yet, so give me a break. But. It was incredibly effective.

With this bare bones recording, I had the germ of an idea, and a new song to focus my attention on. Here is the final track in its entirety.

Writing a song in this way is not necessarily something you can just set out to do. Unless, of course, you have so much influence over your dreams that you can will yourself to play new music in them. But I will say this. This kind of experience tends to happen to me when I'm engulfed in making music in my waking life, partiularly when I'm working on an album. It's like my life is so influenced by the process of writing music, that I begin to dream about it. Kind of like when you work your ass off at your job and then find yourself having a stress dream where you are at your job working. Same thing. The influential things happening in your waking life can affect the things you dream about.

So what's the takeaway, if there is one? Well, if you are inspired to write music, I'd say something like this might be more likely to happen for you. And if or when it does, it's all about doing the things you need to do in order to *capture* that idea (that "capture" part is something that I will emphasize repeatedly over the next few posts) Song writing for me is all about capturing those fleeting ideas before they fade away. So do what you have to do to make that happen. Once it's captured, it can never be taken away from you. The same can't be said about uncaptured dreams.

Now, this isn't the only time this has happened to me. Up next, I'll talk about my most recent occurrence of this, a track from my upcoming album, Ever One.