Cheap Trick – Dream Police —-Powerpop Friday

Cheap Trick…unlike some of their power-pop brethren had staying power. They toured like crazy and released some great music. They are still out there today playing. I became a fan of them when I heard Surrender.

“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, peaking at #26 in the Billboard 100, #9 in Canada, #7 in New Zealand.

From 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.

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.

Dream Police

The dream police
They live inside of my head
The dream police
They come to me in my bed
The dream police
They’re coming to arrest me
Oh no

You know that talk is cheap
And rumors ain’t nice
And when I fall asleep
I don’t think I’ll survive

The night the night

‘Cause they’re waiting for me
Looking for me
Every single night
(They’re) driving me insane
Those men inside my brain

The dream police
They live inside of my head
The dream police
They come to me in my bed

The dream police
They’re coming to arrest me
Oh no

Well I can’t tell lies
‘Cause they’re listening to me
And when I fall asleep
Bet they’re spying on me tonight,
Tonight

‘Cause they’re waiting for me
Looking for me
Every single night
(They’re) driving me insane
Those men inside my brain

I try to sleep
They’re wide awake
They won’t let me alone
They don’t get paid to take vacations
Or let me alone
They spy on me
I try to hide
They won’t let me alone
They persecute me
They’re the judge and jury all in one

‘Cause they’re waiting for me
Looking for me
Every single night
(They’re) driving me insane
Those men inside my brain

The dream police
They live inside of my head
The dream police they come
To me in my bed

The dream police
They’re coming to arrest me

The dream police (police, police)
The dream police (police, police)