“Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer
Well, can you put your hands in your head? Oh no
I said, Dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer
Well, can you put your hands in your head? Oh no”
As far as starry-eyed dreamers are concerned, and I count myself as one, the band Supertramp asks the right question. “Can you put your hands in your head?” I never really connected with that song when I was younger and I certainly didn’t understand the real meaning of the line in question. When you are a young neophyte-dreamer (defined here as one who has yet to squander great wealth and opportunity because of their dreams) you are not expected to do much with them.
In fact, being a “stupid little dreamer,” as the song says, isn’t at all threatening when you are young. The adult world just expects you to eventually get over it or grow out of it. Getting over it means that the dreamer will one day stop quoting the abridged editions of philosophy books or song lyrics from their favorite anarchist band. They will also stop challenging their parents with the advice given to them by the kid at school who is older than them but still in the same grade because they failed last year.
Parents believe their offspring will in the end, get a good job (a real job), meet a nice girl or respectful boy and settle down. The cloud-gazing will cease. The offbeat drum that the unfocused youngster once marched to will finally synchronize with society and the childish sandbox they once played in will magically turn into something of substance and ultimately spit out a pillar of the community. I know that description seems like a sad dashing of hopes or some Orwellian overreach, like “Stepford Parents” gone wild. That scenario is scary to be sure, but the idea of a dreamer giving way to a more conventional life is not my nightmare scenario. My nightmare scenario is the dreamer who remains a dreamer, with all the baggage that lifestyle incurs, but never does a damn thing with their dreams.
I think the dangers of being an overly cautious, or possibly a poser-dreamer, was the point of the Supertramp song. Dreamers have the enviable knack of being unencumbered by conventional obstacles, nay saying and of well, reality itself. Great ideas come from the hearts of dreamers, of those who allow themselves the freedom to drift beyond acceptable notions and reasonable thought. And it’s not just the purview of artists either. Scientific discovery is born of unpopular theories and untested possibilities. Invention is incubated, unlikely love is realized, and even the boundaries of heaven itself are pursued upon the backs of dreamers. So it should come as no great surprise that the status of “dreamer” comes saddled with considerable responsibility, even when the expectation of success is absent. As a society we count on dreamers to do our greatest bidding. It is not enough to sacrifice a lifetime of wealth or the warm comfort of family and friends. It is not enough to endure humiliation or risk social isolation. To be a bona fide dreamer, you must risk the very dream itself. Anything less than that is just self-aggrandized, cocktail party bullshit.
Runaway Home is filled with dreamers and that’s why I stay in it. I think I can speak for all of us in the band, when I say that we are better at our craft than ever before. We are better singers, writers, players and performers than we were when the music business defined us as worthy, useful and marketable. Being able to have a “second act” as a new-old indie-band allows us the opportunity to do what we always wanted to. We finally get to make music on our own terms and travel the country sharing it with all who will listen. It is not enough to have a Facebook site or website or Twitter handle. It is not even enough to have a CD, t-shirt or video to sell. You have to play live. You have to put your songs into the world, mile-by-mile and stage-by-stage. Dreaming is the easy part. Making it a reality, that demands an unshakable work ethic and an unending amount of sweat equity. Supertramp had it right for sure. It requires you to “put your hands in your head.” Oh yeah!
Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“It’s The Music That Makes Us Smile”