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Street of Dreams

Lyrics Guitar Tabs

Written by Lindsey Buckingham.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Justine, Hayley, Janet, Les, Mari, and Stephanie M..

Among Lindsey Buckingham's many extraordinary compositions, "Street of Dreams" is perhaps unmatched in sheer emotional resonance and loveliness. Its poignant, heartbreaking music and lyrics have struck a chord in the hearts of so many people.

Lindsey has revealed in interviews that parts of "Street of Dreams" were actually written in the early 1980s and then he finished it for his 1992 album Out of the Cradle. His father died in 1973, but Lindsey addressed his father's death directly when he was writing songs for Out of the Cradle. Lindsey's brother Greg died during the recording of this album, which may have led Lindsey to confront some issues about his father.

Can't get going
Fear is showing
On this
Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely
Street of dreams

The music, from the first note, is dark, lonely, and ominous. He's lacking in motivation and confidence. He's evaluating his life and he wants to move forward, but feels unable to do so. This is an extremely difficult time in his life. The echoing "lonelys" only serve to reinforce the depression he is feeling

Lindsey's frustration over the reception he received for the album Tusk and his dissatisfaction with the album Mirage are crucial to the understanding of these lyrics. Tusk was his baby, he even described it that way. He poured his heart and soul into Tusk, but received lukewarm public reaction. After Tusk, the other members of Fleetwood Mac pushed hard for a album that would repeat the huge commercial success of Rumours, thus suppressing Lindsey's efforts to continue the inventive, groundbreaking work he had done on Tusk. Mirage, the follow-up album to Tusk, was not nearly as innovative as its predecessor, and left Lindsey feeling disoriented and artistically lost.

Before he performed "Street of Dreams" in concert during his 1993 tour, he explained that ["Street of Dreams"] is "about a period after Tusk and after Mirage where I was really feeling lonely and feeling adrift creatively and wondering why I was in the business I was in, and if I was in it for the right reasons."

There's no telling
What they're selling
On this
Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely
Street of dreams

He feels suspicious of everyone's motives - people in Fleetwood Mac, record industry executives, and the public. Can you trust in the people you know, can you trust your instincts, can you trust in your dreams? He's sad that he cannot rely on anyone. He doubts his ability to continue as an artist because he doesn't know what people want anymore and if any of it even matters. He feels he's lost sight of what's important.

The "lonely street of dreams" represents everything he has worked so hard for - great success in the music industry. Dreams seem less meaningful if you have to live them alone, if you can't share them with the people that matter to you and can give you the validation you thirst for. His negative feelings are probably stemming from a mix of things - romantic relationship problems, his brother's recent death, and his own professional worries.

There's a shadow
On my daddy's stone
Where he was laid, laid to rest

Lindsey - the shadow - is anxious and not at peace. In interviews, he has explained that he used to, and still does, go to visit his father's grave and talk to his father about his problems, trying to imagine what his dad would say to him and what advice he would give.

I ask him is this just a dream
Or is it just another test?
I turn my back against the cold
I turn my face into the wind
I wonder will I ever, will I ever ever make it home again?

The section about the cold and the wind is symbolic - he can't avoid the harsh elements. If he steps away from the the cold, he gets the wind - there is no safe way to turn. Same thing with his life right now - he can't find an easy way to make things improve.

The line "I wonder will I ever, will I ever ever make it home again?" is very moving and is really the emotional core of the song. Home is the place where he feels confident and secure. At one time, he felt very motivated about his music and his career. He longs to get back to that feeling of being inspired and creative, and also of feeling happy that his life is going well. He dreams of recapturing his self-confidence and happiness.

Home also signifies connotations of family and childhood. It is no accident that Lindsey mentions his "daddy" in the song. The song is about his father, it's for his father, it's about his sorrows and memories and fears as they relate to his father.

Home is a safe harbor - a place where your heart is not heavy. As you grow up, move away from your family, and make your own life, which is often tumultuous, it becomes increasingly difficult to know which place- your new life or your old life - really is "home", and if "home" even still exists - as a place that you can actually return to and recapture those comforting feelings of having a sanctuary.

When someone in your family dies, it is as if your whole world has been turned upside down and everything is spinning around. There is a deep sorrow in knowing that you can never, ever go back to the place you once knew and have things be the way they were, with everyone all together again.

Shadow on my daddy's stone
Ten years gone, it seems
I ask him
Will I ever stop, ever stop dreaming dreams?
He said never, never, never

Lindsey feels haunted and in need of reassurance. He is tormented. It is agonizing for him to have to ask these questions - these are questions for which there are no easy answers. He feels compelled to ask them over and over again because they plague him so.

Dreams have different meanings in this song. On one level, the dreams are his hopes - his creative/professional hopes, and his other hopes for the future, possibly dreams of love and romance. He wants to be happy.

On another level, the dreams are ghostly recollections that haunt him in an unsettling way. Lindsey lost his dad when he was very young. His father never got to see him succeed. Lindsey never had the chance to show his father how talented he was. Without that approval and validation from his father, it must have been hard for Lindsey to really know, deep down, that he genuinely was talented and deserving of success.

His regret over his father not having seen him succeed is tied up with his feelings of "home" - the place where your family will let you know everything's all right. Losing such an important part of your past makes it even more difficult to have confidence in the future. Contemplating the future would be scary enough even if ALL the people you love were still there to love and support you. When you're young you always think anything is possible, and every opportunity is open to you, but then you grow up and come to a crossroads. Lindsey is torn; he wants to feel young and idealistic, but instead feels weary and scared and insecure.

"Will I ever stop dreaming dreams" also refers to dreams of his father - will he keep thinking of him, keeping him alive in that way? He wants to know that they will always have a relationship of some sorts. Even if his father can't be there with him physically, he wants to keep feeling his father's spirit watching over him. Lindsey feels his father guiding him, telling him not to give up ("never never never"), telling him to trust in his heart.

And I was praying
You'd be staying
On this lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely
Street of dreams
On this lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely
Street of dreams

As discussed earlier, dreams seem hollow when the people you've most valued can't share your dreams with you. Many artists who lost a parent early in life have spoken about how their early professional victories never seemed complete because the person whose approval most mattered couldn't be there to see them win. It is only natural really, to feel haunted by their ghosts.

The lyric "And I was praying/You'd be staying" is somewhat elusive. "You" could refer to his father or it could refer to someone else, perhaps his brother Greg or a woman in Lindsey's life. It is clear that he longs for someone to accompany him on the path that he must take. However, he realizes that, even if he walks down the path alone, he has to do it, he can't give up on his dreams.

The rain & the guitar at the end are like an elegy for his father - a final tribute - the music has a tragic quality. It as if Lindsey is saying "Good-bye" but also "I'll see you, I'll be with you, I'll remember you," and realizing that home, if he finds it, is somewhere within his heart.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

Copyright 1995-2001, Martin and Lisa Adelson
All Rights Reserved.