An acquaintance of mine is very fond of telling people about her dreams. Each conversation about this topic makes it more obvious to me that there is little I can do to take an active role in the conversation. When someone is describing events that never actually happened (and thus are bound to no rules of realistic logic or science), follow up questions prove difficult. Chuck Klosterman once wrote that nobody cares about anyone else’s dream, but nobody can come out and simply say, “I don’t care about your dream.” In my case, it’s not that I don’t care; it’s just that I can’t really find any valid ways to advance the conversation.
This is how life works. None of us can really offer any insight into someone else’s dreams, but whenever we have a really fucked up dream ourselves, the first reaction is usually, “Who can I tell about this?” This reaction comes in part because we feel a perverse pride in actually remembering what the dream was about in the first place, as well as trying to make sense out of the illogical aspects we’ve just witnessed in our own minds. (How was it possible that I saw the car crash happening from two different angles? And why did the phone turn into a snake when I called the cops? And why did my teeth keep falling out? DEAR LORD, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?)
The lyrics of “(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” supposedly came from a dream that Ben Gibbard had involving Evan Dando and Chan Marshall. Perhaps Gibbard is talking about Dando as the character who “sang every song from 1993,” though it’s hard to imagine Dando doing anything “bashfully”, let alone a curtsy.**
Had Gibbard recorded these lyrics with an acoustic guitar, or even with Death Cab, they would probably seem pretty slight. But riding over top of Jimmy Tamborello’s beats, the lyrics form an emotional counterpoint to the clicks and hisses, the fuzz and swirling wall of sound. This duo became The Postal Service after this song was released, and while Give Up is very good, it’s never quite able to top the brilliance of this track. “Evan and Chan” SOUNDS like a dream, with individual pieces coming out of nowhere, folding back on themselves, and melding together into a narrative that you’re still trying to figure out the meaning of long after it’s passed.
** Completely unrelated, but have you ever heard the prank call where Steve Albini and Nirvana posed as Madonna’s management team, and kept Evan Dando on hold telling him Madonna wanted to talk to him? High comedy. Supposedly this wan an overseas call where they kept him holding forever. Ah, the days of international phone charges and limited sources of prank-based entertainment…