Dream Police

Album: Dream Police (1979)
Charted: 26

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a paranoid man who is convinced that his dreams are being monitored, and it's driving him insane. No matter what he does, the "Dream Police" are always inside his head and waiting to arrest him.

    Unlike the paranoia of, say, Black Sabbath, this song has a comedic element. Like most Cheap Trick songs, it was written by their guitarist Rick Nielsen, who creates lots of offbeat characters for his compositions, which keeps it in good fun.
  • "Dream Police" dates back to 1976. It was one of 22 songs the band had written for their first album, and it didn't make the cut. The song evolved as they played it live and refined it in the studio, and it was released as the title track of their fourth studio album. By this time, their live album At Budokan had been released, breaking them big with the single "I Want You To Want Me." The next single was "Dream Police," and it became one of their most popular songs, reaching #26 in the US.
  • A string section played on this track, which added an element of horror - those violin stabs are reminiscent of what we hear during the shower scene in the movie Psycho. When the song was developing, those parts were done with a keyboard arpeggiator as heard in "Surrender," but when they got the budget, they hired the strings.
  • Cheap Trick was always big on visual presentation and were one of very few American bands making concept videos before MTV (Devo was another). The "Dream Police" video was directed by Arnold Levine and starts with a vignette showing each band member in an interrogation, answering to the Dream Police (Bun E. Carlos says: "I'll never eat another double cheeseburger before bed"). Later in the clip, each member is shown with his alter ego who keeps watch.

    When MTV went on the air in 1981, this song was almost two years old, but they played it anyway, giving it renewed exposure.

Comments: 2

  • Noir It All from Allentown PaIn 1981, I spent a lot of time in Chicago on business. Dream Police was on the radio a lot. I really liked it. REO Speedwagon, Styx an Cheap Truck had huge albums at the time. Chicago ruled!
  • Stukka63 from St.augustine,fla.This a really kick ass song.
    Takes me back to 9th grade. The last place I need to be.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal TapSong Writing

Based on criteria like girlfriend tension, stage mishaps and drummer turnover, these are the 10 bands most like Spinal Tap.

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.