Just Stay There: Beck, “Dreams” (2015)

This just in from Beck, as re-issued on his 2017 album Colors: a wonderful simple chord trick in “Dreams.

The song’s main chord progression is stated right away (this forms the reference baseline for the trick that comes later). It’s a C-sharp to D-sharp to A, then E to F-sharp to C-sharp, which, as we’re in the key of C-sharp, could be written:

1…………………2……………….3………………….4…………….. [the beats in each measure]
I……………………………………II…………………bVI*………… [the chords]    *with added 2nd
…………Come on     out        of      your      dreams

bVI………………………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………………and

bIII………………………………….IV……………….I……………………..
wake    up     from    your       re   –   ve   –   rie

I……………………………………………………………………………………

There’s already a good trick here, starting each major segment a beat early on the 4-beat. It’s a common device for getting you to put down your foot hard on the 4, making more of an event out of each measure’s turnaround. But that’s not what rang the Hooks bell in this case.

The chorus starts for the first time at 1:16, and it mutates the verse pattern in two affecting ways. First, it drops in the sweetest chord we didn’t hear in the verse, the flat-seventh (bVII), to make an extra step between the bIII and the IV in the third line. Second, watch what’s done with that IV:

1…………………..2…………………3………………….4……………………
I………………………………………..II……………….bVI
Dreams

bVI………………………………………………………………………………..
……………d   –    d    –   d   –   dreams

bIII……………………………………bVII……………..IV…………………
……………………She’s                  mak – ing        me  high,

IV…………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………she’s                  mak – ing        me  high

See how we’re up there with IV for five whole beats instead of returning to I in the fourth line of the unit as we ought to have done? Prolonging the IV induces an unusual, slightly bewildering experience of staying high.

So yeah, stay there, don’t let go of your high; or, on the other model, don’t leave your dream yet: keep your eyes closed for a few more seconds: you can.

Advertisements

About Steve Smith

Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies and Director of Film Studies at Millsaps College
This entry was posted in Arrangements and Sounds, Rock, Rock Aesthetics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s