Aerosmith – “Dream On” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“Dream On” is an inspirational ballad about making the most of our lives and following our deepest ambitions. The lyrics focus on how quickly time goes by, the inevitability of death, and the power of a motivational goal. All of these themes combine into a celebration of life, tragedy and all, and a message of optimism for the future.

Steven Tyler had these lyrics with him long before Aerosmith existed. Musically, Tyler credits his father’s classical piano stylings for inspiring the chord structure. Although he never imagined the idea would go anywhere, Tyler was sure to give credit to this song’s early roots in his life when it blew up.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these uplifting lyrics to decipher their authentic meaning. We’ll also take a look at the songwriting story and the universal themes that make this song timeless. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“Dream On” Lyrics Meaning

The track begins by acknowledging a universal problem: aging. Tyler sees the “lines” on his face “getting clearer,” which is a nice way of describing age wrinkles. He’s waking up and realizing how short his life is because so much of it has passed. “The past is gone,” and Tyler can never get it back.

This problem isn’t unique – “everybody’s got their dues in life to pay.” We all understand how, in hindsight, years can feel like one passage from “dusk to dawn.” Instead of running from this, Tyler begins to embrace it in the following lines.

He admits that “nobody knows where it comes and where it goes.” Generally, this likely refers to life. We do not know where our time disappears, and even the origin and destination of our souls are mysterious. Nonetheless, it’s “everybody’s sin” to waste time sometimes. Even though this is unfortunate, it’s necessary. We “have to lose to know how to win.”

In verse two, Tyler repeats similar themes. Half of his life is “in book’s written pages.” In other words, it has already transpired and is now part of history. His experiences have varied a lot, and he’s “learned from fools and from sages.” What piece of wisdom has he extracted from his experience? “All the things come back to you.” What you put into the universe, you get back.

In the chorus, Tyler asks us to celebrate life with him. Not only the “laughter” but the ”tear” as well. By embracing all of his experience, Tyler hopes to move forward in a way that makes the most of his life while he still has it. God may “take you away” at any moment, so it’s best to live virtuously while you can.

The song’s bridge summarizes this message nicely: “Dream until your dreams come true.” During this bridge, Tyler iconically screeches “dream on” in what sounds like a second voice, causing some to think it was actually a different person! By focusing on our future, we can make sure we won’t regret it when it becomes the past. After this, the chorus repeats until the song ends.

In summary, “Dream On” is about making the most of your experiences, remaining time, and unique identity to chase your vision. The lyrics seem to paint this as a universal calling, which explains the song’s mass appeal. Optimism and hope are always in demand, which explains the song’s enduring success.

The Story Behind “Dream On”

The roots of this classic start in Steven Tyler’s childhood. Both the lyrics and chord structure predated Aerosmith, although the idea was clearly finalized during the group’s early days. Funnily enough, Tyler had low expectations for the song and didn’t expect it to result in much.

Tyler’s father was a trained musician who often played piano for him. In one Rolling Stone interview, Tyler attributed the “chord-age” of “Dream On” to memories in which he would lay under the piano at a young age while his dad played. These listening sessions inspired Tyler to work through the idea that later became “Dream On.”

The lyrics, reportedly, were also completed very early. Tyler “never imagined” the idea would go anywhere, but it looks like the world has been determined to prove him wrong! The concept of dreaming until your dreams come true may be simple, but the public seems to think it’s profound too. Just look at the results!

“Dream On” is really the first major Aerosmith hit. Anyone in the classic rock world knows that it’s a radio staple, and all the metrics agree. This grammy-hall-of-famer peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 100 and has sold millions of copies worldwide. Critically and commercially, it can only be considered a smash hit.

The next time you play this powerful classic, let these little bits of music history make it even more special!