Who could forget “Sweet dreams are made of this” as an opening verse? Some songs from the early 80s are easily forgotten and some are best left to collect dust on the shelf, but remembering ˝Sweet Dreams˝ by The Eurythmics is something we don’t have to dig deep into our memory for.
If you don’t know the song by name, you will definitely know you’ve heard it before after playing it for the first 3 seconds. It’s intro is easily one of the most recognizable beats of any song ever created, and we still hear it incorporated into tv and movies everywhere today.
But what exactly makes this iconic song so popular and why has it endured more than three decades of success and continues to create new fans along the way?
The Eurythmics In The 80s
After breaking up with their previous band The Tourists in 1980, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart formed a new band together. And though they were a couple in real life when they were performing with The Tourists, they had broken by the time they formed The Eurythmics. Their devotion to making music was much stronger with a passion that drove both of them to take on bigger risks.
In the early 1980s, new wave music wasn’t exactly new but the prospect of getting into electronic synthesizer music was a pricy challenge for any newly formed band. Together, Dave and Annie went to the bank to borrow 5000 British pounds which is equal to more than 20,000 Pounds today! They used that loan money to buy their new music gear and a drum machine.
While the song itself was recorded in two separate locations, their primary location was inside a rented room that Dave Stewart was renting in North London.
They also recorded some of the base tracks in a tiny studio that was above a framing shop. Lennox had borrowed a keyboard synthesizer which helped complete their unique new sound that was all recorded on a TASCAM 8-track tape recorder.
And though this was the Eurythmics 2nd album, Annie Lennox was dealing with a bout of depression, while her partner Dave was simply glad to be alive having recovered from surgery on his lung.
When Annie initially got to hear the new bass line sound, her mood suddenly changed and inspired her to create melodic synthesizer sounds which forged the original Sweet Dreams song itself.
The lyrics for the song were a bit inspired by their ambitions to be big stars, which was also sarcastic to the name of the song itself.
Ultimately, the song itself reflects the perspective of a bad situation that can’t get any worse. This is where the idea of what things can come from Sweet Dreams that ‘are made of this’ theme. Shortly after the album was completed, they scraped enough money together to make a music video to go with this single.
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This
The record label was very hesitant about releasing Sweet Dreams as a single, yet this proved to be the kind of sound that people liked to hear. After the record was initially released in February of 1983, US record stations started playing this song in heavy rotation. Amazingly, Sweet Dreams was the most requested song from a radio station in Cleveland, which helped their record label decide to release Sweet Dreams finally as a single.
The song was such a well-received hit, it lasted in the top 5 songs music billboard ratings for 6 weeks running. Yet the real success happened to be from their music video. It immediately got regular rotation on the new music channel MTV. It was also one of the few music videos in that era that simply looked different than just a music performance clip. The video itself includes all of the iconic new wave images that made the video so memorable.
These images included roaming cows, playing cello on a boat, and of course Annie’s strangely attractive Androgynous look. This was the look that turned Eurythmics and Annie Lennox into a household names. And though this song is almost 40 years old, it still has plenty of radio and podcast replays. Not only that, Sweet Dreams has enjoyed some memorable cover versions including a very original revision of the song by Marilyn Manson in 1995.
The Eurythmics Today
One thing that’s easy about remembering ˝Sweet Dreams˝ by The Eurythmics is the catchy melody that doesn’t sound dated. The sad and melancholy message throughout the song is echoed by the ‘hold your head up’ and ‘keep moving on’ giving Sweet Dreams an upbeat direction. For a song that went double platinum in the UK and continues regular digital downloads, it’s a song that defies being shelved.
And though The Eurythmics isn’t a band anymore, Annie Lennox often performs this song on her solo tours for her fans. Perhaps the overall message from this amazing 80s song is all about keeping a dream alive aside from the odds being against you. And unlike other anthem songs that are more direct, Sweet Dreams indirectly tells you to keep your chin up while you try.