Caliban's Dream

Album: Isles Of Wonder: Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 20 (2012)
Charted: 12
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written especially for the London 2012 Olympics Opening ceremony by Rick Smith of British electronic group Underworld. It was performed whilst seven young athletes carried the Olympic Flame around the stadium before they lit the Cauldron.
  • Here are the performers on this song:

    Dockhead Choir
    Scottish virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie
    Welsh male voice choir Only Men Aloud!
    Soprano Elizabeth Roberts
    Rick Smith's daughter Esme Smith
    Two Door Cinema Club vocalist Alex Trimble.
  • The opening ceremony album takes its title from Caliban's 'Isles Of Wonder' speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest, where the slave beast refers to his dreams. The event's director Danny Boyle cited Caliban's memorable 'Be not afeard' discourse in Act 3, Scene 2 of the play as the inspiration behind the ceremony.
  • Trimble told NME, it was through Rick Smith's daughter that he came to be involved. He explained: "Esme, she's a fan of ours, she got Rick into the band." He added: "I'd already said yes before I heard the song – I love Danny Boyle's films and I'm a big fan of Underworld. As soon as I heard it I just fell in love with it. My favorite moment was probably the Queen and James Bond, that was a big surprise to me on Friday, because although I'd seen the ceremony four times in rehearsals there were little bits that Danny wanted to keep totally secret."
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie has been profoundly deaf since the age of 11. This does not inhibit her ability to perform at the international level. She claims to have taught herself to hear with parts of her body other than her ears and regularly plays barefoot during both live performances and studio recordings in order to "feel" the music better.
  • Rick Smith has a long history of collaboration with Boyle, having been featured as a member of Underworld on the soundtracks to the directors movies Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach. They first worked together when Underworld supplied the tracks "Born Slippy" and "Dark and Long" for Trainspotting.
  • Smith told The Guardian that Danny Boyle and Isles of Wonder's writer Frank Cottrell Boyce felt the music that accompanied the arrival of the Olympic torch should be driven more by emotional response than musical style. "Frank and Danny put forward beautiful, transcendental poems by people like WH Auden, Thomas Nash, Philip Larkin," he explained. "They set the tone for 'Caliban's Dream.' Very early on Danny encouraged me not to think in terms of Eye Of The Tiger' for the final stages; we weren't looking for anything testosterone-fuelled. Those poetic ideas that we had talked about initially just seemed so beautiful; we wanted to draw them in to the story of the torch. Karl [Hyde, Smith's partner in Underworld] spent a long time working with those words to make them flow, helping avoid all the possible clichés we could fall prey to."

Comments: 1

  • Wes from LondonAre the words to Caliban's Dream copyright or are we able to use them?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

George Clinton

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Francesca Battistelli

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Alan Merrill of The Arrows

Alan Merrill of The ArrowsSongwriter Interviews

In her days with The Runaways, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform "I Love Rock And Roll," which Alan Merrill co-wrote - that story and much more from this glam rock pioneer.

Colin Hay

Colin HaySongwriter Interviews

Established as a redoubtable singer-songwriter, the Men At Work frontman explains how religion, sobriety and Jack Nicholson play into his songwriting.

Gilby Clarke

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

John Lee Hooker

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.