Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Track Tales Tuesday: Dream Catcher

I discovered Set It Off on the most recent entry in their “Punk Goes…” series, Christmas. Their contribution to the compilation was “This Christmas (I’ll Burn It To The Ground)," a soaring, operatic telling of Santa skipping out on the holiday. I’ll admit it took me awhile to adapt to the style. Pop punk bands don’t typically have that level of musical pageantry. It’s an approach that sets Set It Off apart.

Every one of their songs sounds like an epic, sweeping narrative, and “Dream Catcher” is no different, as the band attempts to teach us how to be one of the titular people. The track begins with a bit of exposition that anyone who‘s wanted their life to be more than it is can identify with:
“I’ve been sitting here for hours
As I wish for this to start
I set my standards high in hopes
They will not fall apart”
When you’re stuck in one place in that doesn’t satisfy you, your mind races to find ways that could bring that satisfaction. Your wishes turn into a new set of standards because you realize that the ones you’ve been living with have brought you here. The problem is, you’re still afraid of failing again, so you aim higher and higher until you have no idea how to make anything happen.  You want it so badly, you just don’t know how to get there.

Rather than filling in that gap with their story of success, presumably in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, the band seems to jumps ahead in the narrative:
“It’s almost like I fell asleep
My doubts have seemed to fade
Because I’ve opened up my eyes to see
I’m right where I plan to be
Suddenly, there's no wishing to be somewhere else anymore. He’s where he plans to be because he opened his eyes. Clearly he means he’s come to understand something, but what is it? How did he come to understand it? Why do we need to understand it? These are the questions the song answers as it moves forward by teasing the first half of the chorus:
“Cast your net, cast it out
And I hope to god you’ll scream and shout
It’s everything you want and maybe more”
Alright, so we’re getting a bit of the how. Own your dreams and standards. Make them real by doing more than giving them lip service, proclaim them from the rooftops so everyone hears. Tell them that it’s not just something you’re saying, it’s something you actually want to do. The band explains why you should do this with the next verse:
“Anyone can dream through the night
But only some can dream with eyes wide
There lies the fight inside
It resides in everyone
They will proclaim you a fool
And it reminds you to do
Anything and everything to prove them a liar”
This reinforcement is what separates the achievers from everyone else. It’s how to win the fight that everyone else has lost. The first step is to realize it’s internal—a struggle with yourself to find the motivation. Then the insults of the naysayers will be fuel for your fire of determination rather than chains weighing you down. Victory within yourself is summed up in the final line of the chorus:
 “Cast your net, cast it out
And I hope to god you’ll scream and shout
It’s everything you want and maybe more
Does it seem out of reach?
Hit the ground and run with both your feet
Here’s a lesson that I hope to teach
Believe, you’ll be a Dream Catcher”
Believing is more than giving lip service to something. Just because you say you accept something as true, doesn’t mean you actually do. True belief affects your entire life, how you live every day. It’s strong enough to overcome any fear. Why? Because it manifests in physical events. The only way to truly win the internal struggle is to move beyond affirmation to action.

I realize the last paragraph may seem like a religious statement, but it’s not, and that misconception is why it’s especially important to consider what you believe in. Do you believe in things that are external to you or do you believe in yourself? Both beliefs will affect what you do every day with the latter causing you to take steps toward your dreams. Set It Off explains it best in their final verse:
“Cry out loud and take the stage
And don’t let skeptics slow your pace
With every forward step you’ll take
Their breath away
Their breath away
Believe, believe they’ll spite your words
And some will say it seems absurd
But devour the critics, dismiss the cynics
And mark my words, they’ll regret it when”
(The rest of the song's lyrics are a repetition of the chorus.) 

True belief in the self manifests in real things happening. The only danger presented to these things is people’s repetition of non-actual words. Sure, statements and words occur, but what is their physical nature? There is none, and that’s the difference here. That’s the lesson that Set It Off hopes to teach. Actions trump words, and if you truly believe in yourself, you'll do something instead of talking about it.

The final line of the chorus can now be seen in its true form—a double entendre:

Believe you’ll be a Dream Catcher. Believe that it is possible and act on it.
Believe and you will be a Dream Catcher.  If you truly believe in yourself and act on it, you will achieve what you dream.

It’s a stunning beautiful artistic statement that can only truly be understood by hearing the song itself. Delivery makes so much of a difference here. That fact more than anything points to the talent and artistry of Set It Off, of what they've done to catch their dream.

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