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15 Songs That Came From Dreams

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It doesn’t seem fair that some musicians can become so well versed in their craft that they can actually tap into their own subconscious to dream up parts—or the entirety—of a new song to add to their already impressive catalogs. But here are 15 examples of famous musicians who did just that.

1. THE BEATLES // "YESTERDAY" (1965)

Paul McCartney awoke one night, went from his bed to a nearby piano, and played one of the most covered songs in music history for the very first time anywhere. He spent months asking people if they had heard the tune before, believing that he must have unconsciously plagiarized the tune from someone. Once he determined that he had indeed come up with it on his own, he started to work on the lyrics.

2. THE ROLLING STONES // "(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION" (1965)

Keith Richards came up with the legendary riff and the words “I can’t get no satisfaction” after waking up in the middle of the night and recording it onto a cassette tape (before falling back to sleep). The band was worried that the hook sounded too similar to “Dancing in the Street,” but went ahead and recorded it in a studio anyway.

3. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE // "PURPLE HAZE" (1967)

Hendrix once told an interviewer that "Purple Haze" was based on a dream of his in which he walked under the sea before a purple haze surrounded him. In another interview, he said the song came to him in a dream after reading a sci-fi novel, believed to be Philip José Farmer’s book Night of Light.

4. THE BEATLES // "LET IT BE" (1970)

Paul McCartney’s mother, Mary, died when he was just 14 years old. As The Beatles were on the verge of breaking up, Paul had a dream “between deep sleep and insomnia” about Mary, who reassuringly told him to “let it be.” The next day he started writing the song on his piano.

5. JOHN LENNON // "#9 DREAM" (1974)

McCartney wasn’t the only Beatle to turn dreams into music (though he was the only one to do it while the band was still together). After hearing "Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé” in a dream, John Lennon turned the gibberish into the chorus for this solo tune, which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

6. QUEEN // "THE PROPHET’S SONG" (1975)

The lyrics to this eight-plus-minute number came from guitarist Brian May’s fever dreams while dealing with hepatitis (from a tainted needle). It’s the longest song with lyrics that Queen ever recorded.

7. RUSH // "LA VILLA STRANGIATO" (1978)

The 12-part instrumental came from guitarist Alex Lifeson’s nightmares. Lifeson was known for his vivid bad dreams while the band was on tour, and would wake up his bandmates describing them.

8. THE POLICE // "EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE" (1983)

Sting woke up in the middle of the night with the line "Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you" in his head. He went to his piano and wrote the song in 30 minutes.

9. TODD RUNDGREN // "BANG THE DRUM ALL DAY" (1983)

Rundgren claimed that most of this song, including the entire chorus, came to him in a dream. He hurried to his recording studio to record everything he remembered hearing.

10. ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS // "HONEY, ARE YOU STRAIGHT OR ARE YOU BLIND?" (1986)

After dreaming up the song, Costello recorded it on a cassette player in his kitchen. Since there was no guitar around for the demo, he slapped the counter to accompany his voice.

11. R.E.M. // "IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (AND I FEEL FINE)" (1987)

The lyrics came from a dream Michael Stipe had where he was at a party similar to one he had attended when he was 19 years old in New York City. In the dream party, all of the attendees had the initials L.B. (Lester Bangs, Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein), and like in real life, the only food was cheesecake and jelly beans.

12. BILLY JOEL // "THE RIVER OF DREAMS" (1993)

Joel woke up one day singing what would become the title track to his 1993 album, and it “wouldn’t go away.” He took it as a sign that he should work on it.

13. JOHNNY CASH // "THE MAN COMES AROUND" (2002)

Cash had a dream that he met with Queen Elizabeth, who told him he was like a thorn bush caught in a whirlwind. When he read something similar in the Book of Revelation years later, he was inspired to write a song about it. The idea to use mariachi horns in “Ring of Fire” also came to the musician while he was sleeping.

14. THE KILLERS // “ENTERLUDE” (2006)

Brandon Flowers dreamed of Kurt Cobain singing on a floating ship. He sounded like Bob Dylan, and the melody he was singing became the melody to “Enterlude.”

15. FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE // "IF ONLY FOR A NIGHT" (2011)

While sleeping in a camper van in Germany, Florence Welch was visited by her deceased grandmother in a dream. The singer remembered holding onto her grandmother’s legs and crying as she gave her life advice, then translated the experience into song.

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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6 Great (and Not-So-Great) Works of Art Made by Robots
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Cold, calculating, unfeeling—none of the stereotypes associated with robots seem to describe makers of great art. But that hasn’t stopped roboticists from trying to engineer the next Picasso in a lab. Some machines and algorithms are capable of crafting works impressive enough to fool even the toughest critics. As for the rest of the robot artists and writers out there, let’s just say they won’t have creative types fearing for their jobs anytime soon. 

1. A BEATLES-ESQUE POP SONG

If you heard the song above at a party or in a crowded store, you might assume it’s just a generic pop tune. But if you listened closer, you’d hear the dissonant vocals and nonsense lyrics that place this number in the sonic equivalent of the uncanny valley. “Daddy’s Car” was composed by an artificial intelligence system from the Sony CSL Research Laboratory. After analyzing sheet music from a variety of artists and genres, the AI generated the words, harmony, and melody for the song. A human composer chose the style (1960s Beatles-style pop) and did the producing and mixing, but other than that the music is all machine. It may not have topped the pop charts, but the song did give us the genius lyric: “Down on the ground, the rainbow led me to the sun.”

2. A NOVEL THAT MADE IT PAST THE FIRST ROUND OF A FICTION CONTEST

Will the next War and Peace be written by a complex computer algorithm? Probably not, but that isn’t to say that AI can’t compose some serviceable fiction with help from human minds. In 2016, a team of Japanese researchers invented a program and fed it the plot, characters, and general structure of an original story. They also wrote sentences for the system to choose from, so the content of the novel relied heavily on humans. But the final product and the work required to string the components together was made possible by AI. The researchers submitted the story to Japan's Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Contest where it made it past the first round of judging. Though one notable Japanese author praised the novel for its structure, he also said there were some character description issues holding it back.

3. A 'NEW' REMBRANDT PAINTING

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In 2016, a 3D printer did something extraordinary: It produced a brand new painting in the spirit of a long-dead artist. The piece, titled “The Next Rembrandt,” would fit right in at an exhibition of art from the 17th-century Dutch painter. But this work is entirely modern. Bas Korsten, creative director at the Amsterdam-based advertising firm J. Walter Thompson, had a computer program analyze 346 Rembrandt paintings over 18 months. Every element of the final image, from the age of the subject and the color of his clothes to the physical brushstrokes, is reminiscent of the artist’s distinct style. But while it’s good enough to fool the amateur art fan, it failed to hold up under scruntiny from Rembrandt experts.

4. DREARY LOVE POETRY

What do you get when you dump thousands of unpublished romance novels into an AI system? Some incredibly bleak poetry, as Google discovered in 2016. The purpose of the neural network was to connect two separate sentences from a book into one whole thought. The result gave us such existential gems as this excerpt:

"there is no one else in the world.
there is no one else in sight.
they were the only ones who mattered.
they were the only ones left.
he had to be with me.
she had to be with him.
i had to do this.
i wanted to kill him.
i started to cry."

To be fair, the algorithm was designed to construct natural-sounding sentences rather than write great verse. But that doesn’t stop the passages from sounding oddly poetic.

5. A CREEPY CHRISTMAS SONG

Christmas songs rely heavily on formulas and cliches, aka ideal neural network fodder. So you’d think that an AI program would be capable of whipping up a fairly decent holiday tune, but a project from the University of Toronto proved this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Their algorithm was prompted to compose the song above based on a digital image of a Christmas tree. From there it somehow came up with trippy lyrics like, “I’ve always been there for the rest of our lives.”

6. A CROWDSOURCED ABSTRACT PAINTING

Art made by a robot.
Instapainter

The image above was painted by the mechanical arm of a robot, but naming the true artist of the piece gets complicated. That’s because the robotic painter was controlled by multiple users on the internet. In 2015, the commissioned art service Instapainting invited the online community at Twitch to crowdsource a painting. The robot, following script commands over a 36-hour period, produced what looks like graffiti-inspired abstract art. More impressive than the painting itself was the fact that the machine was able to paint it at all. Instapainting founder Chris Chen told artnet, “It was a $250 machine slapped together with quickly written software, so running it for that long was an endurance test.”

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