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Exploring Longing in Sierra Ferrell’s “In Dreams”

Sierra Ferrell + In Dreams

In 2018, Sierra Ferrell recorded an off-stage performance, “In Dreams” for a GemsOnVHS video with Joseph Faison IV on guitar. Three years later, the song hit a viewership milestone of four-and-a-half million views (as of writing, it has already had 9.5 million views). According to Ferrell, she didn’t expect it would garner that level of attention on YouTube. 

RELATED: Unlocking Sierra Ferrell: Fascinating Facts About the Rising Star

The song, co-produced with Stu Hibberd, was dropped ahead of her highly-anticipated album as part of her debut album, Long Time Coming, under Rounder Records. It featured Dennis Crouch, Rory Hoffman, Jedd Hughes, and Brett Resnick as musicians and Sarah Jarosz and Tim O’Brien for backing vocals. And for the music video, she enlisted the help of her longtime friend Billy Keane. 

Meaning Behind the Song

In an interview with the American Songwriter, Ferrell shared that the lyrics were inspired by a then-recent heartbreak. She said, “The shy boy I thought I was in love with at the time. He left me. That tore me up, and it inspired the agony there.” It also inspired her to move to a different state. But looking back, she knew she did the right thing by leaving even though there wasn’t much planning for it. As for the sauntering sound, it was the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” that gave her an idea. 

“In Dreams” is a deceptively upbeat song, providing a seemingly contrarian sound of ballads while keeping the identity of the ballad’s story-telling intact. That is, it trades the slow, melancholic tradition of ballads in favor of a burst of unexpected Americana energy. The lyrics, on the other hand, overflow with adoration, yet a deeper inspection reveals a longing for a connection beyond admiration, singing, “I wish that I could make you mine.” This bittersweet yearning exists alongside the stark reality of mortality – as straightforwardly written, “Then one day we must die.”

And it’s perfect for a tale of a broken heart gleaming with hope. A driving tempo propelled by acoustic guitars contrasts with the song’s core of longing, creating a captivating tension. Ferrell’s powerful vocals soar above the rhythm, depicting a heartbroken love and yearning. The song’s structure, deviating from the typical verse-chorus format, further deepens the emotional journey, leaving listeners captivated by the musical complexity and the heartfelt message.

The song doesn’t dwell on bitterness or despair. Instead, it embraces the fleeting beauty of the present. It suggests that even that kind of love leaves its mark, reminding us to cherish the connections that enrich our fleeting lives, whether temporary dreams or enduring bonds. 

Dive into a captivating soundscape woven with longing and a touch of the unexpected with Sierra Ferrell‘s “In Dreams” below.

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