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Lyric of the Week: FROM THE LAND OF DREAMS

Standing on the highlands

While the city and the island on the horizon gleam

Looking down on the land of oppression

From the land of dreams.

In the darker days of youth I’d picture standing here

Those days are so far away now it seems

I shake my head in wonder at those days of oppression

As I stand here in this land of dreams.

Twelve years of brainwashing and social malaise

Criticism, ostracism, filling nights and days

Never appreciation, acceptance, or praise

It all seems so distant now as I stand here in the morning haze

When things got real bad I’d look over the ocean

To those headlands on the horizon and imagine myself there

The others laughed and made fun but I would not be broken

They could never make my circle fit their square

So here I stand now at the top of Eastpointe

Finally making good on my scheme

Looking down on the land of oppression

From my vantage point in the land of dreams.

Primed to bombard the land of oppression

From my forward position in the land of dreams

OK, so we got free of that repressive world

We’re away from all the holier-than-thou

Nobody’s playing games with our minds anymore

Nobody’s there to slap our hands now

These days there’s a different struggle to deal with

The supposedly noble fight for survival

We pay too much attention to the transitory things

While our passions remain maddeningly idle

Twelve years slaving away for a dozen ungrateful masters

Ten little victories for every hundred bigger disasters

We wonder where the hell is our happily ever after

We wish we had the luxury of arguing spiritual matters

When it’s all too much I charge down south

All the way to where the land runs out

And dead-ends at the remains of that old concrete ship

The blazing red sun melts away

Into a serene and purple bay

And for a moment at least I’m free of trouble’s grip

Well we shouldn’t be worrying about the rent

Or how fast the money is spent on bills and gasoline

We should be living in fancy houses and driving big old Cadillacs

Through the streets of the land of dreams!

One day we’ll reach the end of the highway

and board the ferry to the land of dreams.

©2024 The Hesh Inc.

Highlands, NJ from Long Beach, NY - photo by The Hesh Inc.
Looking out from the land of oppression to the land of dreams.

I didn't have the easiest time growing up in Long Beach, New York, in the 1970s, or so it felt as I was going through it. Like many a restless kid, I couldn't wait till I was big enough to be able to leave. I would always look out over the ocean from the top of the steel staircase of my school in Long Beach, which stood hard by the town's boardwalk, and be mesmerized by the landmass I would see off to the southwest. It was the northernmost part of the Jersey Shore, which I always held to be a kind of personal fantasyland. I moved away from the USA shortly after graduating eighth grade (at the school by the boardwalk), and when I came back some nine years later and obtained a driver's license, one of the first places I visited was that mysterious landmass, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, where I could back on the town I grew up in from the opposite side of the bay. It was a uniquely satisfying moment. Some years after that I actually lived in Atlantic Highlands, in a living situation that could rightly be described as a 'bubble.' It's a shame that bubble had to pop and I had to grow up and get a life ... I could have stayed there forever, or at least for a few more years.

I wrote the music for this song on the piano in the auditorium of the Hillel House at Boston University during my college years, when I was pining for a better life at the Jersey Shore. It was part of a whole crop of songs that eventually made up my magnum opus, Soul In Exile, about finding one's place in the world. I recorded a rudimentary version of it with piano, drums, bass, and scratch vocal when laying down tracks for the first full-band album in the opus, but it didn't make the cut. Eventually it will be re-recorded properly and find its proper place in the series, which will yet be released.


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