House Of A Thousand Dreams

Album: Waking Up Laughing (2007)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This was written by Billy Montana, Jenai, and Ilya Toshinsky, who called this "the song of a thousand pitches." Said Billy, "I believe in 2000 is when we turned that song in. And it took six and a half years for it to find a home with Martina. I have two publishers that represent my catalog, and they were both like, 'This is one of the top five songs in our catalog,' and they played it for everybody, everybody listened the whole way through it, but no one would pull the trigger and record it. And finally Martina heard basically a guitar vocal work tape of it, and I don't know, for some reason the day was right, and she dug it, and recorded it, did it and made a great record."
  • For Billy Montana this song is especially personal, because it represents the careful navigation of the early years of his marriage while hugging the edge financially. "People ask you how long does it take you to write a song," explains Billy. "And sometimes I can knock one out with somebody in an hour and a half or two, and then sometimes it takes a long time. And I always say this song took over a year to write. And the reason for that was because Ilya Toshinsky and I had music, and I was in love with the music, and didn't want to squander it on an ordinary title. So I was really trying to find something extraordinary to say. And it wasn't like I worked on it every day for a year, believe me. I mean, you're writing songs all in between that. But every once in a while you go back and pull music out, or if you were walking around you were thinking, Well, man, what is it? What is this supposed to be? And so I finally got this – and I don't know where it came from – just one of those titles that… I just got that concept for 'House of a thousand dreams,' but I still wasn't sure what it should represent. I just loved the way those words sounded together, and I thought it was appropriate for the music. So I took that idea to Jenai, and she and I had just had hit a pretty good lick with the Sara Evans hit 'Suds in the Bucket,' and just writing the songs that were getting attention, getting activity. And so we decided to structure it as being like – using my family as an example – it's like back when I was a struggling songwriter delivering pizzas for Domino's, and driving a car where you could see the road through the floor, and that kind of thing. I was thinking I wasn't providing enough as the breadwinner. And that's what the first verse is about, the perspective of the man of the house who's discontent with his work and income level and all that. Thinks he's not doing enough. And then the second verse is from the perspective of the wife, and she's making the most of what they have. So she's kind of in-between. She'll cut corners where she needs to, and that kind of thing. And so that verse is her. And then the last verse is through the eyes of their child, who is absolutely in love with where they live, and all the material stuff means nothing to the child. And the only thing that matters is that his parents love each other and love him and his brother and sister. And so that's really the concept to that song, and that's why it's real personal to us."

    Having a female co-writer, Jenai, put the woman's perspective into the song. Billy says, "It's interesting, because I don't usually remember a lot about the details of a writing session. We got in and I don't keep track of whose lines are whose, usually. But I do kind of remember her bringing to the table, there's a line in the second verse about the wife talking about the curtains. The line goes, 'So I'll find some yard sale curtains for the windows and sew some yellow trim along the seams. And I'll keep praying, hope I go on living in this house of a thousand dreams.' And she definitely was instrumental in that line about the curtains." (laughs)
    "And really, going back even further, I was like the kid in the third verse, because the household that I grew up in, very similarly, I was oblivious to the fact that we didn't have as much in the way of material possessions and wealth. We just didn't have it, we always did without. But I never realized that. I didn't realize it until I look back and go, well, gee, we really were scrimping by there. If I play a writers show and I play that song, that seems to be the one that people come up after and go, 'Man, that was incredible.' Because I just think maybe a lot of people have experienced that same sort of thing."
  • In a performance at the Bluebird Cafe, a Nashville hot spot for songwriters, Billy elaborated on the story: "My wife and I have three children, and they're not children anymore, but they were once. And when our family was growing, and I was delivering pizzas for Domino's, making probably eight bucks an hour down there trying to write songs, and I used to drive this 1977 Monte Carlo where you could see the road through three out of the four places where your feet were supposed to go. And so we decided – there were big, heavy doors, and we had two car seats, and that was just not going to work. And so we decided we were gonna move up in car. And obviously, with a growing family we needed a family car. We were looking for a station wagon. But things were tight; I was delivering pizzas. And so we went to this Chevy dealer, they had these little 2.2 liter Cavalier wagons, you know the ones I'm talking about? The station wagon. Anyway, I think they were going for about $9,000 at the time, and it was still a lot of money, and we had to do it. So we had the kids with us, and Charlie, who's here tonight, was with us there, and so we're checking out station wagons. But out on the showroom floor was this pure white $44,000 Corvette convertible. And Charlie was about 5 years old at the time, and he was checking out the car, and one of the salesmen comes up to him and says, 'You wanna buy that car?' And Charlie says, 'Nope, it's not big enough. We're buying a station wagon!' So, it kind of made me think we ought to look at things like that more often, and be grateful for what we have. But we don't always do that."
  • Montana: "Before Martina recorded it, it was kind of like my family's favorite song, because it was representative of them. And my oldest son got a tattoo on his right shoulder that's got the lyric of the chorus. He was 19 when he got it, and there was nothing I could do. I was writing with somebody who said, 'Well, that's a sucker punch.' I mean, what are you gonna do, get aggravated that he put the words to your song on his arm? (laughing) It's hard to be ticked off about that." (Read more in our interview with Billy Montana.)
  • Billy's son Randy Montana released his first album in 2010, containing the songs "Ain't Much Left of Lovin' You" and "1,000 Faces." Randy has some of the lyrics to "House Of A Thousand Dreams" tattooed on his shoulder: "I'll keep praying, hope we'll go on living in this house of a thousand dreams." Randy told us: "It's my favorite song he's ever written. I grew up in a little itty bitty house where everything was going wrong, but me and my brother and sister loved it. And I always tell people I didn't know I was poor till I was 12 years old."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 1

  • Konnie from Versialles, MoThis song reminds me of my mother. she tries her hardest to give me and my brother the best life that she can.
see more comments

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.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.

Maria MuldaurSongwriter Interviews

The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.