Song of the Day #397: ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ – Crowded House

crowdedhouse20 Best Songs of the 80s – #9

If I was organizing this list by quality, this song would most likely occupy the first or second spot. In fact, its quality has pushed it up the list to #9 as it is because I don’t have any specific memories of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ — it’s just a tune I love that happens to belong very much to the 80s.

I’ve always felt that I should make an effort to better know Crowded House and lead singer-songwriter Neil Finn. Finn was an early pop rock singer-songwriter in the vein of so many artists I like, from Elvis Costello to Josh Rouse. But I’ve managed to never own one of his or their albums… too much music, not enough time.

This is a lyrically interesting song, starting with that great opening metaphor about “trying to catch the deluge in a paper cup” and ending with this provocative couplet: “Only the shadows ahead barely clearing the roof get to know the feeling of liberation and relief.” Heady stuff for a pop ditty.

But it’s not the words that make this song so wonderful. It’s… just everything. The melody of the verses, that fabulous chorus, the echo-y production, Finn’s softly accented vocals. The best songs just work because they work, and there is no explaining it. This is one of those songs.

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

Now I’m towing my car, there’s a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there’s no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum
And I’m counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only the shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

Hey now, hey now
Don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
Don’t ever let them win

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #397: ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ – Crowded House

  1. Dana says:

    An interesting inclusion as I don’t know if the song exemplifies the 80’s. But, hey, I agree that it’s a great one–in the style of Squeeze in my mind.

  2. Amy says:

    That said, you’ve managed to offer a pretty convincing explanation just the same πŸ˜‰

    I happen to think it is the combination of the light vocals, catchy music and heady lyrics that makes the song great. As much as we sometimes want to sing along to a “Vacation,” we also like our music to allow us to contemplate some more profound thoughts and feelings. The title alone is provocative enough for me – Don’t Dream WHAT is over? The relationship? The ideal of the person? The freedom? The lack of freedom? And while I’m asking questions, who, exactly, am I not letting win? Just curious.

  3. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Another great song, but I agree with Dana that it doesn’t really exemplify the 80s for me. Again, though, this one is kind of timeless. I feel like it could be on the current rotation with the likes of The Plain White T’s (“Hey There, Delilah”), for instance.

    With only 8 songs left in this theme, I’m very anxious to see what’s still in store. I have a few artists (if not particular songs) in mind, so we’ll have to see if my idea of what made the 80s special is in line with yours. I’ve agreed with most of your selections, but if things get left off, I might take exception! I said “Good Day, sir!” πŸ™‚

  4. The track does have a certain timelessness to it. The album it comes off (their debut!) still sounds fresh today. I reviewed it yesterday on my site and was surprised by how well it held up: http://onealbumaday.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/194-crowded-house-crowded-house/

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