The mind is a strange thing...
|I love music.|
Since I was a little kid I've had the almost magical ability to instantly recognize a song from just a few bars, and to correctly identify a singer's voice under any circumstances.
I always know when I'm hearing from Taylor Swift, Charlie Puth, Adele, Ed Sheeran, or any number of others, whether I've ever heard the song before or not.
I store thousands of tracks in my brain, cataloging the style, mood, era and what I think of the artist in a never ending background stream of contemplation which inevitably unfolds (whether I like it or not) every time I walk into a store or restaurant with music playing. Shazam is my best friend.
Since 2017 I've become quite a big fan of two musical groups in particular: OneRepublic (1R) and Imagine Dragons (ID).
For me, being a big fan means knowing every single song a band ever made, every album cycle and cover art, the story behind their rise to fame and the individual stories of each member, besides being confident enough in the character of the group to go along happily with whatever they release.
This level of dedication makes it hard for me to "get into" any other groups the way I've gotten into 1R and ID.
I greatly admire 1R lead singer Ryan Tedder, marveling at his skill, work ethic, sense of humor and bright optimistic personality. He is well known in the music world as a producer and songwriter for dozens of famous artists.
Being me, of course, I am also familiar with the other 1R members: Zach Filkins, the big beefy guitarist; Brent Kutzle, the cello maestro; Drew Brown, with shaggy hair and glasses; Eddie Fisher, the drummer; and their newest member, Brian Willett, who is entrusted with the keyboard and whistling at live performances.
I dream about music sometimes. Occasionally a song comes through as clearly as though I were listening to it; the 1R deep cut Dreaming Out Loud (the song, not the album) has featured in my subconscious several times over the years, as one example.
This particular dream took place sometime in the last trimester of 2019, before Covid upended everything. 1R was in the process of putting together their fifth studio album, which I knew was years in the making, though they had been promising it would be released "any month now" for some time.
I remember it clearly. In my dream, my Mom and I had somehow run into Ryan Tedder while shopping, and she and he were having an animated conversation about the finer points of songwriting. This was not unusual, because my Mom is a songwriter herself and has strong opinions on her craft.
I was standing back from them, and I found myself staring at an invalid man in a wheelchair next to Ryan. He was weak and emaciated, with shriveled bony hands adjusting the blankets over his lap.
Horror coursed through me as I recognized the once strong and handsome guitar player Zach Filkins, and I knew somehow that he had become a heroin addict, had wasted away, and that dear good Ryan had taken it upon himself to become the caregiver for his best friend and bandmate. Zach noticed me staring and tried to smile, but I turned away, ashamed and heartsick. I remember thinking "so that's why we haven't seen or heard from 1R in so long!"
It was an upsetting dream that brings tears to my eyes to recall for many reasons. It taps into several deep seated fears: the fear of losing myself or a loved one to addiction, the fear of finding out some terrible flaw in the people I admire.
I woke up with relief to realize that it was not, could not possibly be true, and since it was the middle of the night I decided to go back to sleep without making further note of it.
I puzzled over the dream for days, however, wondering why I would come up with such an extreme scenario that felt so real.
But then I let it slip away into the mental archives. I'm not the kind of person who finds much significance in my dreams; more often than not I find them to be a nuisance, or simply not worth lingering over.
If I know anything about either 1R or ID, it's that they don't play into the old trope of wild rock bands and drugs. So there was no reason to be concerned.
Dan Reynolds, ID's lead singer, often declared himself a Straight Edge, meaning he strives for sobriety. He wore black X's marked on the backs of his hands at every concert, a symbol of the Straight Edge movement. I was proud of him for his consistency and fortitude.
However, when the next Imagine Dragons album came out in September of '21, Dan admitted that he was battling various addictions the whole time he had been promising us he was doing nothing of the sort. This shook me up a great deal; I lost faith in the person I thought he was.
As I pondered this revelation of weakness in one I had long admired, I remembered my vivid dream about Ryan and Zach. Could it have been a prophecy of sorts, a foreshadowing of the downfall of a great artist?
Even though it was the wrong artist, and Dan's struggle with sobriety has ultimately not led him down such a debilitating path as I would have feared, it still remains my most colorful and poignant example of a dream about the future.
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