Girl Dreams
By: Beck Hansen, The Carter Family

Written by: Beck Hansen, The Carter Family

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Lover's Lane

Versions:
  1. Girl Dreams (2:01)
    Available on One Foot In The Grave.
    Credits
    Recorded at: Dub Narcotic
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Producer, Vocals
    Calvin Johnson: Producer
  2. Girl Dreams (Poop Alley version) (3:18)
    Available on The Poop Alley Tapes.
    Credits
    Recorded at: Poop Alley Studios
    Tony Maxwell: Drums
    Tom Grimley: Engineer
    Beck Hansen: Guitar (Acoustic), Producer, Vocals
    Petra Haden: Violin / Fiddle, Vocals (Background)
    Anna Waronker: Vocals (Background)
 
Lyrics:
Girl Dreams [Version (a)]:

You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems my dreams never come true
You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems my dreams never come true

I first met you down on Lover's Lane
The birds were insane, flapping all about
Softly you would sing, swinging in your swing
It wasn't night, it wasn't day

You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems my dreams never come true
You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems that my dreams never come true

You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems my dreams never come true
Girl Dreams (Poop Alley version) [Version (b)]:

I first met you down on Lover's Lane
The birds were insane, flapping all about
Softly you would sing, swinging in your swing
It wasn't night, it wasn't day

Sleeping underneath your car
Watching from afar, snacking on a graveyard
Fingers pointed down, you were just a frown
Blinded to the bone and alone

You're just the girl of my dreams
But it seems my dreams never come true
 
The Song:

"Girl Dreams" is Beck's own folky performance of the Carter Family classic, "Lover's Lane." On One Foot in the Grave, Beck performs it slowly on his old loosely-strung guitar. A drummer joins in lightly for the second half of the song (I could be wrong, but I believe that's Beck on drums).

An alternate version was also recorded with that dog as his backing group. That version is highlighted by an extra verse, some great violin by Petra Haden, and backing vocals by Petra and Anna Waronker. Beck, though, takes it easy on the Carter Family chorus. This new version was released on The Poop Alley Tapes, a cd compilation from Poop Alley Studios. (That's where Beck recorded some of Stereopathetic Soul Manure.)

The way Beck has changed some of the lyrics from the Carter Family's original (see below) illustrates his flair with words. The chorus stays the same, but Beck has changed "I first met you down on Lover's Lane / You were just like an angel with an angel's golden wings" to "I first met you down on Lover's Lane / The birds were insane, flapping all about." One could easily argue Beck's words are just as effective, if not more so. They certainly flow more naturally, and are less wordy. Beck's line combines traditional images (birds) with a more modern twist (being insane, flapping all about) to express the feelings of the original song: falling in love.

Beck's next line is "Softly you would sing, swinging in your swing / It wasn't night, it wasn't day." This line's timeless feel makes it seem as if it could have been sung by the Carter Family themselves. But again, their song is a bit more cluttered: "We walked along, we sang a song / The birds were singing too / It seems like heaven's here on Earth / Just to be again with you." Don't get me wrong, the Carter Family's original is a timeless beautiful lyric. Beck's, however, is just as poetic.

Beck, perhaps realizing he's been tampering with a classic a bit too much, only sings the chorus from then on out. (The Carter Family has a couple of other verses.) He does add a surreal verse ("snacking on a graveyard"?) of his own to the band arrangement on the Poop Alley version.

Calvin Johnson of K Records, who released One Foot, remembered that he had to convince Beck to include "Girl Dreams" on the album because Beck seemed "embarrassed by it." As Johnson explained, "I didn't know if it was because [Beck] didn't think it was a very good song or if [he] didn't feel comfortable exposing those kinds of emotions through music."

Beck has commented that during his K Records experience, he was happily shocked to have a "safe space" to play and record some songs like this one. Prior to his working with them, he was used to recording more "novelty" tunes ("Mexico," "Loser," "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack," for example). K Records was instrumental in Beck's growth as a songwriter, and even though it's a cover song, "Girl Dreams" is a great example of that.
 
Live:

Played live 10 times:
Earliest known live version: January 5, 1996
Latest known live version: April 24, 2003

There are not very many versions of "Girl Dreams" on stage. I assume there may have been more in the early days we don't know about, but given Beck's hesitation at songs like this back then (see above), maybe not. The song as I'm aware has always been done solo acoustic, and never with a band.

In 1996, the song started to show up in a few acoustic sets. Usually, he sings it like the One Foot arrangement, by starting with the chorus. However, he will also stick the graveyard verse from the Poop Alley version in there too, making it a little bit longer.

Someone in the audience requests "Girl Dreams" during the show on December 16, 1997, in Los Angeles so Beck plays a simple, quick version. "That was ripped off of a Carter Family tune," he admits graciously.

On June 10, 1998, "Girl Dreams" is again the result of someone asking for it. "I had an old lady today request a song called 'The Girl of My Dreams.' Just gonna do it for a minute here," he explained. He mixes up a lot of lyrics (especially in the first verse), but nonetheless, it's a very pretty version. He sings "standing on a graveyard," which is probably a more effective image than "snacking" on one.
 
videos

 
Notes: