The Songbook: Don't Dream It's Over

Working in the field of social change is a terribly difficult and challenging experience. For one, you deal with your personal commitment of dreaming big and including others in said dream – as is should be. Also, you have to face the many skeptics around you, which could very well include the ones you love the most. Until you become someone like Tony Meloto or Bill Gates, the naysayers usually heavily outnumber the supporters – and even then when success has been granted your way.

As I brooded over these thoughts on the way to and from Baguio, where a long car ride with earphones plugged in meant I had so much time for myself, I found myself matching songs to my life. Some of these songs I was able to see in a whole new light thanks to lyrics whose messageĀ I previously could not make head or tail of, but now did. One of those songs is “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, whose Sixpence None the Richer version is among my twenty favorite songs of all time.

The funny thing is that I heard the original Crowded House version for the very first time from my brother’s iPod in the car just two days ago. And I instantly fell in love with it.

It is a song with the typical 80’s New Wave or soft rock sound, and it’s a sound I love a lot. It gave 1980s music its own identity, its own voice (pun intended) – you’d know at once when a song comes from that era. Perhaps that’s why I became attached to it instantly – it’s pleasure for the ears, not so loud, not so soft. It has a beautiful melody and a simple but memorable arrangement. Neil Finn’s singing also does it justice; he delivers his vocals with muchĀ passion – which is expected, given that he wrote the whole song himself – and with effective ad-libs that only make us yearn for more.

Sixpence None the Richer’s version, on the other hand, gives the song a fresh new sound, even with the same arrangement down to the guitar solos. They still manage to deliver an outstanding cover that gives the song a whole new identity distinctively them; add to that the breathy, angelic vocals of Leigh Nash and you get a song every bit as enjoyable as the original. If Crowded House’s is the song of the night, Sixpence’s version is the song of the day – the former is perfect and emotion-inducing played soft in a car ride home late at night, while the latter springs with the vibrance of sunshine.

For some reason, Sixpence’s version brings to my mindĀ Super Mario Bros. 2, or rather its Game Boy Advance remakeĀ Super Mario Advance, and it is part of the album of the especially sweet memories and moments of my childhood. ItĀ remains one of my most favorite ever, and both game and song take a very special spot in my heart.

BeforeĀ yesterday, I was at a loss to find an explanation for the lyrics – until I stumbled upon a re-imagining of the title. I always read it as “Don’t dream, it’s over” (and always place it as the last song in my playlists just because), but now saw it in a whole new light as an anthem of encouragement and inspiration, telling me to never dream that it was over – because despite an unknown “they” coming “to build a wall between us”, “we know they won’t win”.

I was able to see the lyrical “us” as my relationship with and immersion into my dreams, and “they” as those who are skeptical or critical of my efforts. Yes, I know that taking this less-traveled road will be immensely difficult – “there’s a battle ahead” – and that there are those who give up for varying reasons (“many battles are lost”) – whatever reason it may be, they give up nonetheless. But with undying faith and unwavering commitment, all that will come to pass (“But you’ll never see the end of the road while you’re traveling with me”). In fact, this “me” can be read as “Me” – faith in God, the very core of our philosophies in BCYF. It mirrors one of my favorite Biblical passages, Psalm 23:4 – “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me”.

The song also seems to foreshadow major events in history that would take place later that decade; its parent album,Ā Crowded House, came out in mid-1986. The EDSA revolution in our Philippines, which is closer to Crowded House’s native Australia and New Zealand than, say, Europe or the US, had occurred just months prior. The Tiananmen Square protests and, more significantly, the fall of the Berlin Wall and thus the end of the Cold War, would happen inĀ three years’ time. It uses war or battle as a recurring lyrical motif; apart from the aforementioned lyric, it also mentions the newspaper telling “of war and of waste”.

Of course, it can also be seen as a love song of encouragement and reconciliation, which is equally as inspiring. After all, our faith’s basis is love.

But I’m still putting this song last in my playlists. Just because. šŸ™‚

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