Fleetwood Mac was a band formed in the late 1960’s. The band’s hit “Dreams” was released on their 1977 album Rumours. Although that was almost 45 years ago, the song remains a classic and is making a comeback with another generation. It is the perfect song to belt, but when you really listen to the lyrics, you hear the story Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood’s lead singer, tells while singing. The song sold over a million copies and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Was it a success? You could say so, but it is also a poetic work of art telling the story of a failed romance.
The speaker of “Dreams” is Stevie Nicks, a woman going through a breakup, but she is also speaking for other members of the band. Two members were going through a divorce and one separating from his wife at the time, so she feels their loss and pain. Nicks begins with “Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom / Well, who am I to keep you down?” By saying “you,” we know she must be talking to someone, that person being her ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. She wrote the song very soon after their break up, and writes about it to gain perspective and release her emotions. Through poetic language, Nicks’ demonstrates that although loss is hard, realizing what’s truly best for you is what matters most.
“Dreams” has a hopeful tone, because Nicks is hopeful she’ll benefit from her breakup. In verse 2, Nicks sings “Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions / I keep my visions to myself.” The crystal visions symbolize coming to a realization, like one might when looking into a crystal ball. Nicks’ realization refers to her relationship with Buckingham, because it was not satisfying her anymore, and she realized it’s best to end it. By saying she is going to keep her visions to herself, Nicks means she doesn’t feel the need to explain herself for wanting something different. She has a positive attitude towards their ending, and is hopeful she’ll come out of it even stronger. Although the song is telling the story of a failed romance, it is upbeat and powerful, not sad.
She sings “Like a heartbeat drives you mad / In the stillness of remembering what you had / And what you lost / And what you had / And what you lost.” Nicks sings “And what you lost” twice to illustrate that although she respects his freedom, he will realize losing her isn’t going to be easy. She says the phrase once to let him know she’s not coming back and says it again to demonstrate that feeling isn’t going to go away. The repetition elaborates on her stepping into a new chapter since it shows Nicks knows her worth. Instead of asking her ex to work things out, she’s accepted moving on is the best thing for her, and if he’s going to let her go he isn’t getting her back.
The chorus of “Dreams” goes, “Thunder only happens when it’s raining / Players only love you when they’re playing.” She creates a metaphor to compare thunder to their break up and rain to their problems. She illustrates the break up, thunder, only happened because of the problems, rain, she couldn’t escape from. The comparison makes it clear they both knew the break up was coming, because it had already been “raining.” The next line is a metaphor comparing Buckingham to a player. She claims he is a player, and although she never talks about him cheating, the listener understands he wasn’t the right man for her. Talking about players broadens the meaning of the song since the listener realizes the severity in their break up. It also leaves the listener wanting to know exactly why they broke up.
Lastly, Nicks includes multidimensional language. She sings, “When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.” The word “rain” doesn’t have it’s usual meaning of rain from the sky, but instead the “rain” is feeling resentment, because he messed up.”Rain” could also be the feeling of getting over Nicks, and he’ll know this because she has hope he’ll grow as a person. Either way, Nicks believes Buckingham will regret losing her.
Stevie Nicks’ poetic language in “Dreams” can be heard as a grieving heart, and although it’s clear she is sad her and Lindsey Buckingham broke up, the song’s upbeat melody and powerful lyrics illustrate her newfound independence and hope for the future. She knows her worth and has faith her ex-lover will soon realize his loss.