Dream On

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1. Dream On
List of Exciter songs
2. Shine

"Dream On" is a song from the 2001 album Exciter by Depeche Mode. It was released as a lead single on 23 April 2001.

Dream On
Song Dream On
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Mark Bell
Recorded at RAK and Sarm West (London)
Sound Design (Santa Barbara)
Electric Lady
Sony Music Studios (New York City)
Length (mm:ss) 4:19 (album version)
3:39 (single version)
Tempo 128 BPM
Time signature 4
Key B♭ Minor
Engineered by Gareth Jones
Engineering assistance Boris Aldridge
Andrew Davies
Andrew Griffiths
Nick Sevilla
Lisa Butterworth
Jonathan Adler
Alissa Myhowich
James Chang
Pre-production Gareth Jones
Additional production Gareth Jones
Mixed by Steve Fitzmaurice
Mastered by Mike Marsh
Art direction Anton Corbijn
Photography Anton Corbijn
Sleeve design Form
Recorded June 2000 - February 2001
Originally released 23 April 2001
Live performances as Depeche Mode 87 times *
Total live performances 108 times *


Dave Gahan told Entertainment Weekly in 2017:

"Mark Bell who produced [Exciter] — he actually died a couple of years ago, he’s not with us anymore, unfortunately — but he taught me some interesting things about using my voice because he had been working with Björk before that, and he brought in a lot of the things she was doing with her voice into the studio. I learned how to [whispering] sing very quietly and very close to the microphone, to use all the noises in my voice to be able to create this creature, this thing, and “Dream On” was one of those songs lyrically where it was a character that I was becoming, that I could be without all the misery. I could step into it, and step out."[1]

Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher in the EPK for Exciter in 2001:

Andrew Fletcher: "We worked on 'Dream On' first and it was probably the first or second song Martin wrote for the album. But I think it's the real defining track of the album: the mixture of electronic beats with acoustic blues guitar and some really good lyrics and a great catchy chorus. So it was great that we recorded that song first and I really think it was important and set the way for the rest of the album."

Martin Gore: "I don't know [what the inspiration was behind 'Dream On']. I always hate explaining away songs, because for me they mean something and for other people they'll mean something absolutely different. But I'll tell you about the atmosphere of the song and the way it was created. We were going to take the original demo I just played to Gareth [Jones] and Paul [Freegard]. I just played it on the guitar and the idea was to not use a guitar at all, just to take it off in a totally different direction. And after we'd been working on it for about four days, we had this real kind of edgy electronic percussion going on in the background and we just cut the original guitar that I'd played in and it just sounded really good, because it was just so different to everything else that was going on in the track."

Martin told Associated Press in 2001:

Martin Gore: "I've said a million times that I don't really like talking about the songs that much, but what I can say is it's about a lot of people that I know and me. The songs are never about one thing in particular. It's a song about loathing other people and self loathing for me. How have I destroyed that?! "Here's our new single, it's all about self loathing.""

Andrew Fletcher: "I'm glad you've told me that. I'm going to use that."

Martin Gore: "Don't ever use it as your wedding... for a wedding song."

Dave Gahan: "They will, Mart, don't worry."

The late Mark Bell told Keys Magazine (translated from German):

"'Dream On' consists mainly of two guitar lines. We used nylon strings for the first and steel strings for the second line. Both lines were recorded very close to the microphone to receive a lot of noise and this special "pump effect". When you play acoustic guitars very softly, you get a lot of strange tones and noises, which make it sound almost electronic. We had one guitar line with the right groove. And we worked with it as if it was a loop. We adjusted the other line with the PlugIn Vocalign. It was like a live performance, but with a very tight timing."

Mark Bell continued in the May 2001 issue of Keyboard magazine:

"We treated the electronic sounds in 'Dream On' with the same respect as the acoustic ones. I find it really boring when electronic things are treated as if they're from the future, with all that phasing and bouncing silly shit all over the place. This one was really honest with the complete live performances intact, with decorative electronics adding to the pace and the narrative of the song."

In the same magazine, Andrew Fletcher and Martin Gore are asked by Robert L. Doerschuk:

Doerschuk: "On your single, 'Dream On', there's one detail that caught my attention: Right before you go into the verse and after the bridge, two little synthesizer blips pop up. Why was it important to drop them into the arrangement?"

Martin Gore: "They're hooks."

Andrew Fletcher: "They're strange, and oddly melodic. They were created on the Nord Lead and the Synthi, I believe."


Dream On

As your bony fingers close around me

Long and spindly

Death becomes me

Heaven can you see what I see

Hey you pale and sickly child

You're death and living reconciled

Been walking home a crooked mile

Paying debt to karma

You party for a living

What you take won't kill you

But careful what you're giving

There's no time for hesitating

Pain is ready, pain is waiting

Primed to do it's educating

Unwanted, uninvited kin

It creeps beneath your crawling skin

It lives without it lives within you

Feel the fever coming

You're shaking and twitching

You can scratch all over

But that won't stop you itching

Can you feel a little love

Can you feel a little love

Dream on, dream on

Blame it on your karmic curse

Oh shame upon the universe

It knows its lines

It's well rehearsed

It sucked you in, it dragged you down

To where there is no hallowed ground

Where holiness is never found

Paying debt to karma

You party for a living

What you take won't kill you

But careful what you're giving

Can you feel a little love

Can you feel a little love

Dream on, dream on

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©2001 EMI Music Publishing Ltd. London WC2H 0EA. Assigned by Grabbing Hands Music Ltd. All rights Reserved.

Music video

The music video for 'Dream On' was directed by Stéphane Sednaoui and released on March 27th, 2001. The video features several classic American cars, including a 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV and a 1974-1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "Dream On"
Main article: List of dates where "Dream On" was played


  • 'Dream On' is featured in season three episode twenty-two of The WB television series Charmed. Notably, 'I Feel Loved' also features in the same series, appearing in season one episode four.
  • 'Dream On' is also featured in the pilot episode of Fox television crime drama Fastlane.

1981-1985: Dreaming of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of LoveLeave in SilenceGet The Balance Right!Everything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous RumoursSomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Route 66Personal Jesus
1990-1999: Enjoy The SilencePolicy of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2000-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn the RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2010-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalkerMissing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle LivingHold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw SomethingDeeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012: SpockSingle BlipAftermaths