'Taking Notes and Stealing Quotes'
A Dream in Ev'ry Home
The music of this song is uncommonly 'gentle' for a Procol Harum record – so much so that one author of this screed, first hearing it in a car, did not identify it as Procol Harum at all. This is Adult-Oriented Rock, so-called for its undemanding sound; presumably this number is quite undemanding to play as well, having a verse built on two alternating major chords (the dominant A, and sub-dominant G). This two-chord compositional device is much in evidence on this album, as is the subsequent shift to more Procolian harmonies for the D major chorus.
Electric and acoustic pianos mix in the introduction, with a dash of organ: it sounds like a latter-day Fisher solo track, and reputedly started life as a Fisher demo, to which Reid wrote the words. The band's demo version differs in having a pizzicato introduction, using the sort of bright synth voicing beloved of pop song arrangers ... cp Madonna's Papa Don't Preach. The demo ['A Dream Without a Home': tiny mp3 here] also has a dose of the "white man's reggae" on the organ, the sort of syncopation heard on Gary Brooker's Lead Me to the Water: this gets washed out on the released version, save maybe a hint around the "kiss and tell" episode. The solo break comes from some dreamy, melodic guitar, and the backing chorus is represented only by a solo Brooker line. Matthew Fisher said in 1992 to Mike Ober: ‘Two of the songs Gary, Keith and I demoed in 1989 were totally re-recorded.’ [A Dream Without A Home and Learn To Fly].
'It has a touch of loneliness about it,' Gary told Henry Scott-Irvine in March 1992, … 'and the music had tried to be quite sparse and soloist.' However the arrangement certainly doesn't sound 'sparse' in the way some of Home does: the fully-realized song makes use of treated female backing voices, a bubbling bass line, and a Bruce Hornsby-style scalar piano break, all diversifying the traditional Procol sound, and there's an unusual Latino-flavoured percussion set, over and above the radio-friendly walloping snare back-beat: do we even hear a clap-box in there? This exotic percussion was not present on the 1989 demo when it was A Dream Without A Home, but some of it featured on the Carson TV version (see below).
This song was released in the States in December 1991 as the second promo single (Zoo / BMG ZP17051-2) from The Prodigal Stranger. It contained two versions: the familiar album version (4:01) and a radio edit (3:44) available now on the triple CD of A and B sides; it was never released as a bona fide single. It was premičred live on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show (13 December 1991), incidentally also the first live appearance of Geoff Whitehorn with Procol Harum (he puts in a nice solo). As with other rarely-performed songs (cf Learn To Fly), Gary made slight mistakes with the words: instead of 'The moment that the arrow pierced' he sings: 'The arrow…. …. …. pierced', for 'To really come alive' he repeats 'The only one who cared'. In the background are appealing girl singers on backing vocals and (well-amplified) percussion: it would be interesting to know if these are Stevie Lange and Miriam Stockley (Maggie Ryder it ain’t, and one really looks like Stevie Lange). Otherwise it has not been performed live except at the 1997 Redhill reunion, some say at the request of Franky Brooker, and then on certain 2001 tour dates
- Title: Roxy Music's song, In Every Dream Home A Heartache, appears to share key words with the Reid's title here: but the Prodigal Stranger demo features the diametrically opposite variant, 'a dream without a home' for 'a dream in ev'ry home'. The musical arrangement seems to suggest that the song was styled for radio play: perhaps the words were made more positive with that potential in mind, though it never came out as a bona fide single. In any event the final lyric must have pleased Keith Reid, who selected it for inclusion in his book, My Own Choice.
- In 1992 Frans Steensma asked Gary Brooker if this song were Keith’s reaction to the famous Roxy Music epic In Every Dream Home A Heartache (from For Your Pleasure). ‘I shouldn’t think he’s one to not pinch an idea,' Gary replied, 'but [he uses] the word 'dream' in his lyrics anyway. The word popped up twice on this album [cf All Our Dreams Are Sold].'
- 'Remember when you felt it first?': this rhetorical question links the first and second verses
- 'The bitter taste of love': this unusual phrase recalls the enigmatic 'love is life, not poison' in All This And More; whether this 'bitter' taste is metaphorical (someone else is doing it, with the door open, and 'you' are only 'peeking'!) or is attributable to some particularity of actual lovemaking, is best left to the listener's imagination! It is possible that Reid has read Lewis Carroll's 1888 conceit, A Lesson in Latin, which plays on the fact that the Latin word 'amare' means both 'to love' and 'O bitter one', and which ends, 'We've learned that Love is Bitter-Sweet'.
- 'The bitter taste of love': 'I'm a reader and a writer, not a lover or a fighter' declared Keith Reid in an unpublished song (I'm a Reader and a Writer). His references to love are infrequent, and frequently not really involved with affectionate relationships: 'If music be the food of love' (A Whiter Shade of Pale); 'You know I love you gal but I'm not able Mabel' (Mabel); 'I'd as soon talk to you as make love to a wall' (Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)); 'Between loving her and drinking booze' (Whisky Train); 'The critics will love it and say that it's good' (Without A Doubt); 'Star-crossed lovers they spoon and swim' (Perpetual motion);
- 'hand that reached inside the purse, the fist inside the glove': these mixed metaphors of theft and penetration constitute a glorious sexual double entendre, a latter-day parallel to 'shove me in your steaming vat' in Luskus Delph; the parallel also allows us to compare the graphic vividness of Reid's earlier writing with the 'reduced set' of images that he drew on in the 90s.
- 'iron fist in a velvet glove' is a commonplace expression relating to an apparently
- 'You peeked behind the open door ... the bride is always bared': there's a voyeuristic theme here in keeping with the vicarious pleasures of television, mentioned below.
- 'The bride is always bared' hints at Marcel Duchamp's great glass work, 'The Bride Stripped Bare' (another title used earlier by Brian Ferry) and, incidentally, parodied by the Bonzo Dog Band on Keynsham (1969): the Bonzos' Vivian Stanshall played with Procol Harum in the mid 1970s and Brooker guested on Peter & The Wolf, on which Stanshall was the narrator. Duchamp's symbolism is obscure at best, but the great glass appears to depict the act of physical lovemaking in terms of the functions of a mill or churn. The Duchamp piece was the subject of a whole album's-worth of material by Black Tape for a Blue Girl: As One Laid Aflame By Desire.
- 'You always knew this day would come' has a close parallel in Learn to Fly: 'we knew this day would come'
- 'The TV flickers silently': in this song 'you lie in bed alone', whereas in TV Ceasar the TV 'shares the bed in every house'. Interestingly, here, it flickers 'silently', implying that the sound is turned off, though it may also be that 'flickers' implies that the screen is relaying only interference: in other words, the television has been left on in the absence of broadcasts, implying perhaps a depressive, withdrawn narrator. Television is a saving grace of hotel rooms on endless and tedious tour schedules: it seems that Keith Reid's own viewing habits have at times been unconventional: 'You put the television outside your hotel room once,' says Gary Brooker here.
- 'you lie in bed alone': the solitude implied here perhaps takes us closer to the bone than most Reid writings. Few of his other 'bed' references involve a fulfilled relationship: 'the lipsticked unmade bed' in Homburg has been deserted by the friend; Only the 'silken sheets ... continental slip' in Grand Hotel suggest mutual enjoyment in the bedroom. Elsewhere we find more solitary or dark bedroom imagery: 'attacked the ocean bed' (A Whiter Shade of Pale); 'the gloom around our bed' (Salad Days (Are Here Again)); 'his bed is made, the colours fade' (Good Captain Clack); 'I'm lying in my bed hatching million-dollar schemes' (Seem To Have The Blues Most All The Time); 'I wasn't at home in bed' (Juicy John Pink); 'a floor for my bed' (Dead Man's Dream); 'Got the wrong side of the bed' (The Thin End of the Wedge). The present song's explicit reference to solitude in bed may well touch on an experience at the heart of many of the more trenchant pieces on the first four albums [such as Shine on Brightly and Your Own Choice].
- 'A dream in every home' annexes the language of European 50s advertising, when boomists looked forward to a time when everyone would purchase their own 'mod-cons' ... fulfilling a 'dream' of ownership (fuelled by the deprivations of war and post-war rationing) at the ultimate expense of any sense of community and shared experience. 'Dream' is thus a typically two-edged word; and the narrator's relationship with the television, the ultimate domestic wannahave, is as dysfunctional and lonely as his attitude to the sexual affairs. The band Frazier Chorus hymned the dream home idea most ironically in their late 80s song, Dream Kitchen.
- 'in ev'ry home': as well as having an album named Home and two song-titles featuring the word, Procol Harum use the word 'home' in no fewer than 14% of their published songs.
- 'Kiss and tell' is a children's pre-adolescent courtship game in UK: it is also the jocular name given to a style of meretricious confessional journalism: 'kiss-and-tell memoirs'. TV Ceasar, again, explores the relation between television and prurience: 'Who's been doing what with who, how they do it when they do'.
- 'The moment that the arrow pierced': Cupid, son of Venus, was the blind archer who fired randomly from a quiver containing gold-tipped arrows (causing reciprocal love) and lead-tipped arrows (causing unrequited love). As in the 'fist' and 'purse' images above, 'pierced' focuses on the intrusive act of love, doubly so in the case of the pearl. It has been suggested that these images refer to impregnation rather than mere penetration, and that the images of lonely disorientation ensue from the moment when 'you felt it first'.
- 'The pearl inside the shell': the lust-object in Luskus Delph is referred to a Turkish 'pearl'
- 'You peeked behind the open door': the repeated line – with its overtones of a child witnessing the congress of unwitting parents – ushers in a new notion, 'The secrets of the hive'. British sex-education used to begin with the coy term 'the birds and the bees' to introduce the 'facts of life'
(Secrets of the Beehive was 1987's third solo album by David Sylvian;
Secrets of the Hive is the BtP-entitled 2CD Procol
retrospective issued in 2007). The hive and the oyster are both unprepossessing 'containers' in which coveted products (honey and pearl, both words much-used in the language of love) are mysteriously and invisibly generated: as, of course, is a gestating foetus. Overall, this bittersweet lyric allusively refers to both the worlds of inside and outside, and to various ways by which outsiders gain knowledge (visual and physical) of the inner realm.
Thanks to Frans Steensma for additional information about this song