“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”, the song that made the Eurythmics make their dreams come true

No effort no results. This line finds its musical archetype well in the story song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”, which was released on 21 January 1983 by the English duo Eurythmics. A world hit, deeply anchored in its sound era, of course, but which has found, in its originality and great melody, its timeless aspect.

Forty years after its release, this song continues to resonate, and not just a little. For its authors, it was part of the last chance, which allowed them to become the pop musicians that truly made it big in the West, which marked the year 1980. The story is about a couple, but also about the determination that drives you to go all-in when your back is against you. to the wall. Failed often. But sometimes it’s a crushing blow. And sweet dreams” was a crushing blow.

Two and a half years before seeing their faces displayed on the facades of the biggest venues in England and the United States, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were still part of the rock band The Tourists. In a vain attempt to succeed, they found themselves in 1980 playing in Australia, in Wagga Wagga, a town halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. But tired of the tension and marathon rides that never paid off with the famous record sales, the line-up split right away. The group will confirm the number of concerts remaining in its contract, and quit.

Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox are a couple. The night after the concert, they find themselves in the hotel, completely depressed. Dave picked up a small synthesizer, started making a sound comparable to the didgeridoo, a traditional local humming instrument. Annie sings a little of it and shares her idea: “Why don’t we make electronic music?” But for now, there are still some challenges to be overcome.

Master the machine

On the plane taking them back to England, Dave and Annie record their own farewell. He sank into depression. He, who had survived a serious car crash a few years earlier followed by a very strenuous surgery, was on the positive side. Their collaboration should continue, as a duo. Arriving safely, they gave their final concert with The Tourists in front of four people, then drove home.

During their journey, the vehicle breaks down, under the snow. Annie’s depression reaches its climax. Mainly because the spouse (who isn’t actually one anymore) is in debt. Something had to be done: Dave decided, in the cold, that they would immediately go to the bank for a new loan and buy equipment, synthesizers, machines that would allow them to satisfy their new artistic desires. They finally got home and were headed to the bank within a week. Surprisingly, the latter gave them what they wanted, and they rushed to buy their equipment. More debt, of course.

After naming their new duo, Eurythmics, Dave and Annie set up their private recording studio above a shop in the Chalk Farm area of ​​North London, not far from Camden. The problem was that Dave couldn’t use his Roland Space-Echo, Teac Tascam 80-8, or Klark Teknik DN50 reverb properly. A savage name for an instrument not too instinctive to the common man, one that takes a long time to tame.

While Dave was educating himself in electronic music, Annie, he was sinking further and further. Their first album which was released in 1981 was called In the park. And it is an oven. So we had to get back to work for the umpteenth time. One night, Dave was playing the synthesizer and came up with a very new bass line. Annie got up from the couch she had been slumped on and reached for another synth. He brings out string melodies, sharper elements. They hold something, a framework. They sure hit hard.

Perhaps it was then that these rockers instinctively became electronic musicians who knew how to co-write songs from machines. “That’s a giant beat, but it’s not a song yet”Dave Stewart told the Guardian in 2017. It’s coming.

Light in the dark

Their mastodon rhythm was then taken to Church Studios, still in London. There, other elements were composed and recorded, creating a song that was far more complex than it seemed. In production, it’s made of subtle branching, of five, six, seven, eight simultaneous voices, some of which sound like echoes, muddy synthesizer tracks, like twists and turns, incredibly intricate and skillfully put together. Drums and lead vocals are clearly audible. But between the two, it’s the real home of the music card.

For her text, Annie Lennox draws inspiration from her mental state and recent past. The Tourists breakup, the end of the couple’s love, the desperate search for success… All of this turns into a “Sweet Dream”. These dreams are the world of music that they have known for a long time, which stretches out its arms to them, but cannot embrace them. It’s a tour around the world (“I traveled the world and the seven seas”, “I have traveled the world and the seven seas”) seeking recognition (“Everyone is looking for something”“Everyone is looking for something”)).

The singer would tell the Guardian: “It was about surviving in the world.” It’s a mantra, but very nihilistic. Dave, in his eternal optimism, decided to add some more humorous words, one made of hope. So the section is added, text that says: “Raise your head, raise your head, carry on” (“Raise your head, raise your head, forward”). A little light in the dark.

With this new work, duo Eurythmics will be looking at their record label, RCA. To their surprise, he wasn’t convinced. Because of one important thing that characterizes this song: there is no chorus. It’s a series of verses, catchy hooks, bridges, and sound progressions, but it doesn’t fall under the usual label formats and even less radio.

To announce their second album, three more singles were chosen: “This Is The House”, “The Walk” and “Love Is A Stranger”. The album was released on January 4, 1983 and reached the ears of a DJ in Cleveland, USA. This one appears on the song “Sweet Dreams” and put it on the show. Listener feedback is warmly welcome. So, RCA agreed to make it the ultimate single and allowed the duo to record the clip.

“And here we are, laying on the table, and this cow pissing all over the place”

Filming began at the end of January. Director Chris Ashbrook was maneuvering and accepting, on Annie Lennox’s idea, to place the musicians on stage in the assembly hall. This room is where record companies discuss and then determine the fate of the artist. It’s an insult to those who don’t want Eurythmics talent, a little booger thrown at them.

Later in the video, we see a wall covered with gold and certification records. The general public will find Annie Lennox’s face, androgynous, short hair, determined: “I want to be as strong as a boy, to be on par with Dave and look like that. To wear a wig and be able to take it off represents what women create for themselves to be acceptable or beautiful in the eyes of men, to take off the mask and show that none of this is real”he would explain to The Guardian in 2017. During filming, they brought a cow into a reconstructed meeting room. “And here we are: Annie and I lying on the table, and cows peeing everywhere.”

The song was released and gradually became a big hit. “Sweet Dreams (Made Of This)” was the eleventh best-selling single of 1983 in the UK. He conquered the United States of America quietly. It’s the title that stays in the head, in length, that lasts. Because Eurythmics start from afar, they don’t explode suddenly. They must settle down.

The clip itself became one of the symbols of the emergence of the American television and music channel MTV, created a year and a half earlier. The group would release six more albums, becoming one of the leading British bands of the 1980s, and Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox would both have very prominent solo careers. As Annie Lennox put it in an Instagram post on Jan. 4: “Songs are like ships… They have their own path and goals. Once they left, there was no turning back. All that remains is to continue on our way.”

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