'I was puzzled by a dream
It stayed with me all day in 1995'
Belle and Sebastian, The State I Am In
Bob Dylan's Dream is a 1963 song from Dylan's album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. I hardly ever remember dreams but my dream last night was vivid and started with meeting Bob Dylan and ended with filing claims against Eric B. Go figure.
It started with Dylan visiting my home, which wasn't my home but a Gothic, ramshackle, gloomy kind of place with low lighting. I was nervous meeting Dylan, not sure what to say to him. He was very short. He was just hanging out, my family offering him tea and biscuits, which he declined. I wanted desperately to take a photo of him but I couldn't work out how to use my iPhone camera. I wanted a pen and paper to get his autograph but couldn't find any. Dylan was getting impatient. I was nervous. He made some attempts at conversation, but his voice was so mumbled I couldn't understand him so I just laughed nervously and nodded. Eventually, he said he had to go, picked up his guitar and left.
Next I was in a seedy kind of harbour, sort of King's Cross by the sea. Everything was dark, rainy, red and ramshackle. Things felt unsteady, in transition. I was there to meet an ex-girlfriend, it had been ages since we'd met. I didn't know she'd turn up, but there she was, by the sea, wearing a red coat. It was windy. When she turned around she looked different. In fact, she was literally a completely different person. It wasn't her, but it was. She assured me it was her. She said she looked different as she'd been to see three different psychologists that day. She was looking more like an ex-work colleague actually.
(My dreams are always like films and this scene was appropriated from two films I'd seen this week, and a song. In the final scene of Submarine, a 2010 British film, the lead character runs towards his ex-girlfriend on a beach to try and make amends for treating her badly. Previously in the film, he'd dreamt the same scene but when the girl turned around it wasn't her. In the final scene, it is her, and they go paddling together and make up. The film was okay, quirky in a self-conscious way, but great to see Noah Taylor again (the best thing in the film, playing a depressed marine biologist), not seen him since Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and just adored him in his debut film, The Year My Voice Broke (1987) and its follow up, Flirting (1997). I'm not sure of the connections between Nick Cave and Noah Taylor, aside from both being Aussies and having similar hair, but they've both ended up living in Brighton.
The other film was the awful but enjoyable R.I.P.D. (2013), where dead cops come back to life to work in the Rest In Peace Department to fight monsters. The film focuses around recently killed cop Nick Walker (played by Ryan Reynolds) and Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges in Wild West mode). Though they return to earth as humans, they look nothing like their former selves, so Walker returns as an old Chinese man, and Bridges as a beautiful blonde. Derivative to say the least, it was nevertheless an entertaining Men in Black meets Ghostbusters meets Monsters Inc.
The dialogue in my dream scene was reminiscent of the final stanza of Dylan's 1976 song, Isis:
She said “Where ya been?” I said “No place special.”
She said “You look different” I said “Well I guess.”
She said “You been gone” I said “That's only natural.”
She said “You gonna stay?” I said “If you want me to, Yes!”
Talking of appropriation and derivativeness, I don't really have a problem with either. When Dylan's autobiography Chronicles came out, there was cries of plagiarism that he'd nicked passages from Proust. I've written previously how ideas float in the air, ready to be plucked. I think the same of pre-existing art and literature. I don't think Dylan self-consciously pinched the passages from Proust, rather he'd read them years ago, and they'd stayed in his subconscious.
Appropriation isn't new. Joyce and Dostoevsky did it. William Morris did it. Peter Saville did it. Dylan does it. I'm in good company I reckon. I mentioned Dylan's new Bootleg Series 10 a while ago, Another Self Portrait. Okay, I moaned about it. But I love it. It's been playing non-stop on my CD player and iPod since it came out. Dylan's voice sounds so rich and warm, I just lose myself in it.)
Anyway in the dream, me and the ex walked around town. It was a gusty but muggy and intense evening. It felt like we were in Havana. She told me she knew Eric B, the rapper from Eric B and Rakim. Recently he'd been sending her sexually suggestive messages, and she was upset. So we went into a rickety building, climbing up cranky flights of stairs, to file a complaint in an office. The dream sort of ended there, or I can't remember the rest.
My dreams are like my life, I have no control over either. I guess this makes them both exciting and mysterious. I read Francois Truffaut's book of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, Hitchcock/Truffaut years ago, and always remember Truffaut asking Hitchcock, “Do you ever use material from your dreams in your films?” And Hitchcock said, “No. Never.” And Truffaut said, “Why not?” And Hitchcock said he used to keep a pen and paper behind his bed so that if he had a dream and woke up, he could write down the idea and go back to sleep. It happened one night: he had this incredible dream, he woke up, he wrote it down, and he went back to sleep. And when he woke up the next morning, he looked at the piece of paper, and it just said, “Boy meets girl.” He said that was the last time he ever considered using an idea from his dream in a film. I love the 'Boy meets girl' concept, and always thought it was the basis of all cinema and literature.
I've never had dreams like falling or drowning or anything like that (and never sexual for that matter). They've always had a strong narrative, and I often view them as a film. The lighting is always impressive. Performances, so-so.
Previous dreams here