Dream Police (song)

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"Dream Police"
Dream Police cover by Cheap Trick.jpg
Single by Cheap Trick
from the album Dream Police
B-side ""Heaven Tonight""
Released September 1979
Format 7"
Recorded 1978
Genre Power pop[1]
Length 3:49
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Rick Nielsen
Producer(s) Tom Werman
Cheap Trick singles chronology
"Ain't That a Shame"
"Dream Police"

"Dream Police" is a song written by Rick Nielsen and originally released in 1979 by the American rock band Cheap Trick. It is the first track on the group's album of the same name. The single peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] Nielsen has stated that the song "is an attempt to take a heavy thought - a quick bit of REM snatched right before waking up - and put into a pop format."[3] Cheap Trick biographers Mike Hayes and Ken Sharp describe the song as "a magnificent tour-de-force, characterized by an addictively infectious chorus and jarring bursts of dissonance.[3]

Tom Maginnis of AllMusic described the song as "a tongue in cheek Orwellian nightmare" and that it represents "late-seventies power pop at its zenith."[4] Maginnis also noted that "Dream Police" follows up on its B-side, "Heaven Tonight" (which had been released on a previous album), in that both songs represent dreams.[4] Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone described the song as a "trash thriller like John Carpenter's Halloween," and also noted that it is "nearly as good as the earlier ones in which Cheap Trick used similar stylistic devices."[5]

In the 2007 book "Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide", a section on Cheap Trick featured reviews on the top 20 stand-out tracks from the band. One track included was "Dream Police", where the author John M. Borack wrote "Entire careers have been built around lesser songs than this monster, which sits proudly alongside "Surrender" as the quintessential Cheap Trick song. Everything about it is perfect, from Zander's alternately cute and menacing vocal to Carlos's pounding drums to Nielsen's cracked spoken-word interlude. Oh, can't forget the instrumental build up heading back into the final chorus, which is pure genius."[6]

Chart performance[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

"Heaven Tonight"[edit]

The B-side of the "Dream Police" single was "Heaven Tonight", previously released as the title track of Cheap Trick's previous studio album, 1978's Heaven Tonight. It is a disturbing song that was written by Rick Nielsen and Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson. "Heaven Tonight" was one of two songs on the album that involved death, "Auf Wiedersehen" being the other. In this song, potential death comes from drug abuse; Nielsen described it as an "anti-drug" song.[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic described the song as being "dreamily psychedelic".[17] Mitchell Schneider of Rolling Stone noted a resemblance between "Heaven Tonight" and The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever".[18] The Village Voice critic Susin Shapiro describes the song as cross between Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)".[19] Annie Zaleski of Ultimate Classic Rock rated it as Cheap Trick's number 7 all-time greatest song, and described it as their "creepiest moment".[20] Music critic John Serba rates it as one of his favorite Cheap Trick songs, describing it as being "dark and scary".[21]

"Heaven Tonight" is played in a minor key.[20] Nielsen played a mandocello on the song, and other instruments include harpsichord and cello.[16] Zaleski described the harpsichord playing as "psychedelic-tinged" and considers that this combined with the choppy riffs and whispered refrain make the song "ooze dread".[20] Serba notes that its "descending melody" is atypical for the band.[21] Nielsen described the song as "a kind of parody on some of the drug songs of the sixties" and stated that "it could even be the basis for a movie."[16] Petersson stated that they tried to make the song sound like Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir".[16] Nielsen noted that the song's ending line, "you can never come down", was taken from a Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies song.[16]


  1. ^ Mathews, Kevin (19 February 2009). "Cheap Trick: Silver". PopMatters. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Cheap Trick Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  3. ^ a b Hayes, M.; Sharp, K. (1998). Reputation Is a Fragile Thing. Poptastic. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-0-9662081-0-8. 
  4. ^ a b Maginnis, T. "Dream Police". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  5. ^ Marsh, D. (November 29, 1979). "Dream Police". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  6. ^ Borack, J.M. Shake Some Action - The Ultimate Guide To Power Pop. p. 42. 
  7. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-12-26. 
  8. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  9. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Cheap Trick search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  10. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Cheap Trick – Dream Police". Top 40 Singles.
  11. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  12. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-12-26. 
  13. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X. 
  15. ^ Rothing, Hilary (2009-02-27). "Lost: Behind the Music". UGO Networks. Archived from the original on 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Hayes, M.; Sharp, K. (1998). Reputation Is a Fragile Thing. Poptastic. pp. 50–56. ISBN 978-0-9662081-0-8. 
  17. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Heaven Tonight". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  18. ^ Schneider, M. (August 10, 1978). "Heaven Tonight". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  19. ^ Shapiro, S. (June 26, 1978). "Cheap Trick's Slick Schtick". The Village Voice. p. 60. Retrieved 2014-02-14. 
  20. ^ a b c Zaleski, A., B. "Cheap Trick's First Five Albums – Rock's Best Hot Streaks". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  21. ^ a b Serba, J. (June 22, 2012). "Cheap Trick: Celebrating the band's 8 greatest earworms, in anticipation of its impending Van Andel Arena concert". Booth Newspapers. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 

External links[edit]