Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Everybody Has A Dream by Billy Joel

Writer’s block has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From the point I started studying the act of musical composition in middle school through college as a music compositions major and now writing this blog for the past seven years, the search for inspiration has been a constant struggle.

In my time sitting in a practice room with a blank piece of manuscript paper in front of me in college and during the times when I can’t figure out anything interesting to reflect on in the past week of my life, I find my greatest inspiration in the people in my life.

“Everybody Has A Dream” by Billy Joel isn’t really about dreams like we normally think about the,. When you hear that phase “Everybody Has A Dream,” you think of career goals, an exotic vacations and some material possession someone hopes to own. That is not what Joel is singing about. He says that his dream is to spend time alone at home with someone he loves. Why? Because the most powerful inspiration he has found in his life is in this person that he loves.

It’s not a coincidence that most of the Billy Joel songs I’ve written about have come from his masterpiece, The Stranger. This album is Joel's greatest work and one of the best albums in the popular music canon.  There’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” a magnificent Abbey Road-like reality check for high school students (and the rest of us), “Only the Good Die Young,” a hilarious commentary on Catholicism and the trade-offs we all make and “She’s Always A Woman,” a beautiful statement on the nature of femininity (click on the links to check out these posts).

All of these songs including the other tracks on this album blend together Joel’s 1970s cynicism he views love and relationships with the romanticism he grew up with in the 1950s. Even in his darkest moments Joel is an optimist. He believes in love he just doesn’t believe in all of the crap that gets in the way of love which is why it’s not a big surprise that he ends his masterpiece with “Everybody Has A Dream,” a song of thanksgiving.

“Everybody Has A Dream” has a slow gospel feel to it.  Joel's idolization of Ray Charles comes shining through from the chord progression to the laid back feel of the groove.  Echoing blues lyrics the verses speak of searching for inspiration. The world is so bleak he “relies of my imagination,” to get him through his life. The second verse affirms his believe and optimism “and if a word from you can bring a better day,” holds him up and keeps his hopes alive.

The second verse ends with lyrics that are resigned:
So let me lie and let me go on sleeping,
And I will lose myself in palaces of sand.
And all the fantasies that I have been keeping
Will make the empty hours easier to stand.
The bleakness of these words is followed by a the chorus which states that his dream is simply to be “with you.” He doesn’t want anything else in his life, he just wants to be with the person that he loves. When you find a person that brings you inspiration, the motivation not only to create art, but to get up out of bed in the morning, to believe in yourself, to give life your all and to stand up in the face of adversity, there is nothing that you want in life more than to be with that person.

This song is about the journey, the struggle to find inspiration and the strength in we find each other.  Sharing life with others is what gives life meaning and feeling that power is the greatest dream of all.

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