How I Wrote ‘Bad Dreams’

Bad Dreams, the fifth song from Spinning the Compass is one of my favourite of all the songs I’ve written.

It began life as a short song for the 50/90 songwriting challenge, the absurd summer competition where songwriters challenge themselves to compose 50 songs between July 4th and and October 1st. Here’s the original demo:

Bad Dream (Demo)

As well as the production values, there are some obvious differences – I’ve since composed an entire middle section that foreshadows one of the vocal lines from the end of the title track from the album (‘They’ve been spinning the compass again…’).

I’m really happy with the solo section after the second verse, which borrows heavily from Frank Zappa, via all the Steve Vai and Dream Theater songs I’ve listened to. The structure of the song, with it’s three verses portraying various nightmares, was heavily influenced by ‘One More Red Nightmare’ from King Crimson’s ‘Red’.

Does that leave anything original in the song? I don’t know, but I’m still really proud of this one.

The cables break
Car begins to fall down
An electric flash and I’m heading for the ground
All around me people panic and scream the cables break
Another bad dream

Bones begin to fall down
The ashes begin to rain
Red washed cry a strangers cry of pain
Your safe safe world is nothign like it seems
Bones begin tof all down
Another bad dream

They’ve been spinning the compass again
Changing the rules as we play
These Bad dreams are spinning me round
With this compass a way can’t be found
They’ve spinning the compass again.
Spinning the compass again.

Flashing knife broke through my guard
A bolt of light dazzling my eyes
Trip and stumble red water in the stream
A flashing knife
Another bad dream