Last night a cold-fearing Jeff took some cough syrup before bedtime, saying, "I'll probably have some fun dreams tonight." Jeff's dreams are always so much better than mine. Chock full of explosions, espionage, zombies, and actual plots, they put my usual unprepared-to-teach or I-can't-find-my-plane-ticket dreams to shame. Jeff's medicinally-enhanced dreams are something special, and this morning's dream report included time travel, brachiosaurii and a T-rex that ate a guy and then the guy hacked his way out of its stomach. See? Better than mine. Awesome, even.
Today is Martin Luther King day, a holiday I love, but unfortunately whenever I hear or even think about King's "I Have a Dream" speech**, the song "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie inevitably comes to mind and stays locked in there all day. And here's why. As you may recall, early on in the song Lionel says:
I had a dream
I had an awesome dream
-- Interesting, Lionel! Do tell us about this awesome, possibly King-like dream! --
People in the park
Playing games in the dark
And what they played
Was a masquerade
From behind the walls of doubt
A voice was crying out
If I may, Lionel? THAT IS NOT AN AWESOME DREAM.* That is an ordinary dream. These "walls of doubt" are mildly interesting. What did they look like? Perhaps they resembled Rodin's Gates of Hell, but with less teeth-gnashing? Lionel does not return to this dream during the remainder of the song, thus leading the listener to believe that the awesome dream ends with a crying-out voice as people continue their nighttime park games i.e. masquerade.
See, that is the kind of dream I would have: pointless, confusing, mildly frustrating, and ending abruptly before it becomes interesting. In other words, not awesome.
Martin Luther King's dream, on the other hand, was truly awesome, but one minor, overlooked reason why his speech was so masterful was the fact that he did not boast that his dream was awesome. He let us, the listeners, come to that conclusion ourselves. He did not oversell the dream the way Lionel did.
And that is why "Say You, Say Me" is in my head today.
Also? "Say You, Say Me" was impossible at high school dances ca. 1985. You'd start with that pathetic, weight-shifting-from-side-to-side thing that passes for slow dancing among teenagers. Then, about two-thirds of the way into the song, the tempo shifts abruptly and kind of starts rocking for half a minute before returning to its original plodding groove. No one ever knew what to do once the song started rocking, so we continued to slow dance as if the song had not done a complete 180.
*And I say this as someone who has enjoyed your music since the late-70s, i.e. when I was eight.
** And, of course: