Mike Opitz Song Writing and Theory Project

Featuring the Karma Refugees

Series of Dreams (Bob Dylan cover)

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Salvador Dali, The Dream

The Karma Refugees:
Featuring the vocals of                                 Mysterious Madame X.
Guitar, echo voice, production              Mike
Bass, production                                                Tom
Guitars, final mix and production       Brian

Like Bob Dylan, “I was thinking of a series of dreams.”   I had been reminiscing about the many classes I have taught and the many students I have known as a series of dreams.  It seemed like an appropriate metaphor to me.  However, it is always a slippery business to translate the images and sensations of dreams into words, syntax and story.  Each of these elements imposes a world-view and an interpretation on what Freud called “the royal road to the unconscious.”  In his classic essay, “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire,” Walter Benjamin argues that the same is true of “memories.”  The sensations of memory emerge into language, take form in syntax and become fossilized as a narrative.  The narrative is supported by a barrage of photographs everyone now takes with their phones to document—lest they be lost in the stream of time—the reified memories of a life. Thus, Benjamin argues, we rationalize our memories like we do our dreams.

Salvador Dali, Study of Dream Sequence of [ Hitchcock’s film] Spellbound

The song explores dreams “where nothing comes to the top,” that is where nothing comes to consciousness.  However, even putting that thought into words makes it an idea rather than a dream.  Like the images in a work of art, the words in a song may reach deeper than our conscious attempts at understanding.  The dream images seem to elude order and dodge literal meanings.  Constructs like “time” and “tempo” “fly.”  The dreamer discovers that the only exits from the dream-world are “ones you can’t see with your eyes.”

The line in the song that first caught my attention was, “I’d already gone the distance.”  Thinking of my former classes and students, I realized what a distance I had gone.  I could feel the distance.  I had flashbacks to wonderful, engaging classes and students.  Some of them contribute to this website.  In the words of the song, “I was thinking of a series of dreams.”

Salvador Dali, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Recently, I’ve been enjoying playing Dylan songs and as I sing the words, I fall into streams of imagery and attitude.  While singing “Series of Dreams” for a group of friends last spring, I followed Dylan’s words to the insight—“The cards are no good that you’re holdin’/ Unless they’re from another world.”  The world of dreams is not the world of words.  Subjects, verbs and objects do not describe the world of dreams.  The stories we tell about our lives are not dreams but memories which have been processed by language and culture.   As Salvador Dali may have noted—memory is “persistent,”  or is it?

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory

  

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