I believe Weezer’s “Only In Dreams” is the greatest unrequited love song of all time. One second short of eight minutes, it is an ode to young, innocent love that is impossible.
Unrequited love is probably the most popular subject of most songs, right behind money and trucks (rap and country are huge markets.) There have been plenty of songs that have affected me during my younger days where the only woman touching me was the woman at McDonald’s handing me my bag of food and our fingers ever so slightly grazed. In fact, when burning CDs was cool, I’d create compilations titled “Songs for a Sad Mood” that was full of these songs. (I think I got up to volume eight before I bought an iPod.)
And while I still love many of these songs and have very vivid memories of what they mean to me and the times in which they are connected to, “Only in Dreams” stands out to me the most and I don’t know why. I think it’s because it’s so raw and innocent. It’s simple in it’s desire to just feel love.
The subject isn’t singing about kissing or sex. It’s not about animal attraction. He simply wants to dance with the girl of his dreams. He wants to hold hands and move in rhythm and ignore everything besides this moment. She’s “in the air, In between molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide,” not physically next to you but so prevalent in your thoughts and heart that anything and everything reminds you of her. You’re wearing a pair of shoes she thought were cool. You look at them, you think of her. A song comes on and you remember her saying it was lame. You hear it and there she is again. Everything reminds you of her. You can’t escape.
Then, “you walk up to her, ask her to dance.” Do you know how hard this is? Now, some of you reading might be Casanova, baggin’ ladies on the dance floor and rock solid lovers. And this might come as a shock for some, but I’m not. I’m the opposite. Asking someone to dance at school dances was my base jump. It was skydiving. It was jumping over 18 buses. I’d get nervous. I’d sweat. My voice would wobble. My vision would blur. And that poor girl I was asking. Here comes this fat, sweating, vibrating dude asking to hold hands and sway uncomfortably for four minutes. In retrospect, it makes sense they said no. I can’t necessarily blame them. Holding doors open and making funny jokes doesn’t make up for an utter lack of physical confidence.
A few said yes over the years and it was pretty great. I’d finish the dance, awkwardly shuffle away, and feel like a fucking rock star. “Did you just dance with her!?” “Um, yeah. I did. Let’s talk about it for the next three days until I slowly realize it means nothing to her and everything to me and hey, let’s eat a cake alone.”
But it’s the build up of “Only in Dreams” that seals it. 4:25 – 6:44 might be some of the greatest minutes I’ve ever heard in music. Not because it’s brilliantly written but because it gives you time to gather all those memories, those thoughts, everything those lyrics mean and contemplate what they mean. Then, at 6:44, you can just explode. Be it in dancing, screaming, tears, whatever. The steady bass line, the snare growing faster and faster, the guitar sneaking in, adding more drums, another guitar, louder and louder and then…
Only in dreams.