No, my muso dreams are of failure and panic, loss, letting people down. Typical dreams go:
We’re at a venue. We’ve done the soundcheck. As ever, it’s hours before we play. [As in real life], we go off and eat, or go for a drink, either together, or in small groups, or on our own. I have gone off on my own. After a while I realise that I am far away from the venue, and can’t find my way back to it. Panic.
I’m at what is obviously the wrong venue. I’ve got the night wrong. I can’t contact anybody else in the band by phone. I can’t get a cab. I’m in a place that has loads of corridors or staircases, or both. Everybody around is focused on whatever’s happening at the venue, or I am too embarrassed to admit to anybody that I need help, because it’s ridiculous to turn up at the wrong venue.
I have lent my guitar to somebody in another band. I am either in the venue, outside it, or near it somewhere. I can’t remember who I’ve lent it to, and again feel too embarrassed to admit to this.
My guitar is broken, or won’t work for any number of reasons. Or I’ve forgotten to bring it.
Variations of some of these have actually happened: equipment failure is common, especially with one very temperamental amp the band owns, guitar strings breaking during a set or, on one occasion, one minute before we were due to go on, a clarinet being dropped on cobblestones and broken, and one of our tubas has dents that wouldn’t look out of place on a car in Naples, testifying to a lot of tumbles. On a recent trip to Glasgow, I started to feel a bit lost when a group of us went on a walk, and for a drink, before we played – we weren’t lost at all, in the safe hands of one of our trumpeters who has an excellent sense of direction. Various members of the band lose stuff at gigs, small things, usually, a guitar tuner or capo left on the stage, trumpet mutes, sheet music, clothes and hats left in dressing rooms shared by (and I kid you not) fifty other people. Nobody has lost an instrument yet (though one band member, shocked by sudden bad news, left an instrument on a train once – he got it back later) but I can see it happening. There has been the occasional almost last-minute dash to a venue if a band member hasn’t been able to get there earlier.
What I found weird was that I’m not the only member of the band to have these dreams – many of us do. I realised then that it wasn’t so weird. No matter how well things have gone, once we look back on them, gigs, tours, and recording sessions, even rehearsals sometimes, are all ventures that rely on the organisation of people and their time and resources, and are also subject to adverse events, lapses in people’s goodwill and efficiency, and pure luck. Obviously, we can’t approach everything with white-knuckled anxiety, or it would all seem a bit of a slog, but I think our dreams show that anxiety is not so far away, and will settle its amusing little account with us in the end.