I had another one of my wonderfully strange recurring dreams over the weekend. This time I was playing a mean fiddle, improvising like crazy and swinging hard like Stuff Smith (see the amazing video above) — but with the round, fruity tone of Itzhak Perlman. And it being a dream, I sounded pretty terrific.
For almost as long as I can remember, I've had dreams in which I can play various instruments. Mind you, in the waking world I play no instruments well at all, just a little guitar. And in college, I performed traditional Javanese court music, but that's it. So when these dreams pop up — I'm blowing tenor sax in a Coleman Hawkins kind of way, or cleverly maneuvering through a particularly intricate electric guitar solo — they make me feel great afterward. They are almost always set in relaxed, impromptu situations (never on a glitzy stage) filled with familiar faces — at least faces I know in the dream.
Occasionally, the sensations feel so real (sometimes I even remember totally original musical snippets) that when I awake, I'm convinced I need to go out and buy that trombone I was blasting and actually learn how to play it. It couldn't be that hard, right? My dream made it seem so easy.
All that makes me wonder a couple of things. What do these dreams really mean, if anything?
And have you ever had such a dream — where suddenly you can play an instrument you've never even touched before? If you could wake up and have that dream come true, which instrument would you choose to play? Tell us your stories in the comments section.
Now all I have to do is find a cheap fiddle and someone to show me how to play it like Stuff Smith.