About The Song

Background

“Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” was released in June 1985 as the lead single from Waylon Jennings’ album Turn the Page. Written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes, the song became a major hit for Jennings, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

This song arrived at a pivotal point in Jennings’ career. Throughout the 1970s, he had been a leading Outlaw Country artist, known for his rebellious spirit and raw sound. However, by the mid-1980s, Country music was undergoing a commercial shift, with a smoother, more pop-oriented sound taking hold. Turn the Page, including “Drinkin’ and Dreamin'”, reflected this shift to a more polished production style, while still retaining the core elements of Jennings’ signature outlaw persona.

Musical Style

“Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” showcases a blend of classic Country instrumentation with a touch of 1980s pop sensibilities. The song is built on a bed of acoustic guitar, with a prominent steel guitar weaving its signature melody throughout. Drums and bass provide a steady and contemporary backbeat, a subtle departure from the more traditional Country shuffle. Jennings’ vocals are powerful and emotive, conveying the frustration and longing present in the lyrics.

While the instrumentation leans slightly towards the contemporary, the song’s overall feel remains firmly rooted in Country tradition. The prominent steel guitar and Jennings’ vocal delivery ensure it retains its Country essence, even amidst the polished production. This balance between tradition and modernity helped “Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” find success with both longtime Country fans and those embracing the evolving sound of the genre.

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Lyrics

The lyrics of “Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” explore themes of escape, dissatisfaction, and the yearning for freedom. The narrator feels trapped in a monotonous life, exemplified by the opening lines: “Everybody’s lookin’ for some way in / I’m lookin’ for some way out / I’ve been wastin’ my time standin’ in line / If this is what it’s all about.”

He finds solace, albeit temporary, in alcohol: “All I got is a job that I don’t like / And a bottle to keep me from goin’ outta my mind.” The bar becomes a refuge, a place where he can escape his reality through intoxication and dreams: “But here at this table I’m able to leave it behind / Break free till I’m dreamin’ a thousand miles out of my mind.”

The song delves into the conflict between responsibility and wanderlust. The narrator feels tied down, likely by societal expectations and obligations: “She’s got my body but my heart and soul out there riding away damn well I can’t go.” He dreams of a life less ordinary, one that offers adventure and freedom, perhaps symbolized by “Old Mexico” which he mentions as a place he’s “never seen taxes.”

“Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” doesn’t offer easy solutions. The narrator remains trapped in his circumstances, finding solace only in temporary escape. The song’s ending is particularly poignant: “Another round bartender, don’t let the dream end / Gotta keep on dreamin’ ’til I can start livin’ again.”

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Cultural Impact

“Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” was a significant commercial success for Waylon Jennings, solidifying his status as a Country superstar. The song’s blend of traditional Country elements with a contemporary production style helped it resonate with a broad audience. It became a staple of Country radio and a favorite among fans.

More importantly, “Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” captured a sentiment common among many working-class Americans. The song’s themes of frustration with daily routines and the yearning for a more fulfilling life resonated deeply with listeners. It became an anthem for those who felt stuck in dead-end jobs and longed for something more.

The song’s cultural impact extends beyond Country music. Its themes of escape and the struggle against conformity have resonated with fans of various genres. “Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” continues to be a popular choice for cover songs by artists across the musical spectrum, a testament to its enduring appeal.

Conclusion

“Drinkin’ and Dreamin'” stands as a landmark song in Waylon Jennings’ career. It marked a turning point in his sound, showcasing his ability to adapt to the evolving landscape of Country music while retaining his signature outlaw spirit. The song’s relatable lyrics, powerful vocals, and engaging melody continue to resonate with listeners today. It remains a classic example of Country music’s ability to capture the struggles and aspirations of everyday people

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Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤
Everybody’s looking for someway inI’m looking for someway outI’ve been wasting my time, standing in lineIf this is what it’s all about
All I’ve got is a job that I don’t likeAnd a woman that don’t understandSo tonight in the bar, I’ll get in my carAnd take off for the promise land
Drinkin’ and dreamin’, knowing damn well I can’t goI’ll never see Texas, L.A., or ol’ MexicoBut here at this table, I’m able to leave it behindDrink till I’m dreaming a thousand miles out of my mind
This suit and this tie is just a disguiseThis ain’t really meSome people were born to be tied downSome people were born to be free
When I look down the road she don’t knowHow it gets under my skinShe’s got my body but my heart and soulAre out there riding the wind
Drinkin’ and dreamin’, knowing damn well I can’t goI’ll never see Texas, L.A., or ol’ MexicoBut here at this table, I’m able to leave it behindDrink till I’m dreaming a thousand miles out of my mind
Drinkin’ and dreamin’, knowing damn well I can’t goI’ll never see Texas, L.A., or ol’ MexicoBut here at this table, I’m able to leave it behindDrink till I’m dreaming a thousand miles out of my mind

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