Things That Stop You Dreaming
This is the opening track of the album and a really important one when I think about it .
It’s about coming to terms with harsh realities and life’s limitations .
This seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout the record which is not something that I’d really understood until I started writing these “song stories” .
It’s striking to me ten years on how much this subject matter rears its head throughout this group of songs .
It was on my mind a lot at the time .
This was my 5th album and I think I was beginning to begrudgingly accept that I might not ever “make it” as a musician and what that might mean moving forward .
I was in my late twenties when I wrote these songs and I’d spent the previous five to ten years working as hard as I could to grow a fanbase and create a career for myself .
Passenger was growing slowly , and actually about to explode , but it certainly didn’t feel like that at the time ….
I remember watching countless artists - some friends - getting to the stage that they wanted to within music - recognition , record deals , playing big shows and becoming financially stable etc .
I’ve got to be honest , it was hard . It’s hard to see other people get the thing that you want when you’re doing everything you can and working so hard .
I started to understand that I might never get there . That it might be pub gigs and busking for the rest of my musical life .
Some days I would feel fine about it - I’d play in front of fifty people and really feel like it was worth it and that it was making a difference . I could see how much it meant to some of them , even if it was just a handful - It was enough . After all , I think everyone knows deep down that art shouldn’t be judged on how many people it appeals to ….
Other days I’d feel really down about it and turn in on myself . I remember having severe moments of self doubt . Moments where it would feel so far from a feasible and long-lasting life plan and days when I would really question my ability and decisions .
My friends were starting to settle down - getting married , having kids , getting promotions in stable jobs where as I was sharing hostel rooms and had no qualifications to fall back on .
In these moments , when everything else was stripped away and it was hard to figure out the next steps , my songs always got me through . It may sound cheesy but it’s true . I would always go back to the heart of what I do . The core of it … which will always be the songs .
When I did that it always re-centred and balanced me . I was , and still am very proud of my songs . I pour all that I am in to them and have given my whole life to writing .
I knew that passenger wasn’t for everyone but I always felt that if I could just get my songs to the right ears I’d be able to forge a small niche for myself .
The chorus of this song breaks my heart -
“if you can’t get what you love ,
you learn to love the things you’ve got ,
If you can’t be what you want ,
You learn to be the things you’re not ,
If you can’t get what you need ,
You learn to need the things that stop you dreaming”
The idea being that over time and after much rejection , you start accepting less . You justify it to yourself and others and you learn to morph around your disappointment . In the end , you start relying on the very things that prevent you from fulfilling your dreams . They become a safety blanket .
I really hope that this explanation might help somebody reading this .
To know that wonderful things that are worth while take a long time , a massive amount of work and moments of real heart ache and self doubt . They’re all essential parts of the journey . They make you stronger and the payoff infinitely sweeter . You earn it and that in itself might be the best part .
If you are reading this , I hope you’re not allowing the heaviness of life stop you dreaming . Dreams are where everything beautiful begins .