Friday, December 18, 2009

One Track Mind: Dream Theater - Surrounded (song review)

One of my favorite Dream Theater songs is Surrounded. It's off their 2nd album, Images & Words, which is considered by many to be one of their best.

by: Dream Theater (from
Images & Words)
Morning comes too early and nighttime falls too late
And sometimes all I want to do is wait
The shadow I've been hiding in has fled from me today

I know it's easier to walk away than look it in the eye
But I will raise a shelter to the sky
And here beneath this star tonight I'll lie
She will slowly yeild the light as I awaken from the longest night

Dreams are shaking
Set sirens waking up tired eyes
With the light the memories all rush into his head

By a candle stands a mirror
Of his heart and soul she dances
She was dancing through the night above his bed

And walking to the window he throws the shutters out against the wall
And from an ivory tower hears her call
"Let light surround you"

It's been a long, long time
He's had a while to think it over
In the end he only sees the change
Light to dark
Dark to light
Light to dark
Dark to light

Heaven must be more than this
When angels waken with a kiss
Sacred hearts won't take the pain
But mine will never be the same

He stands before the window
His shadow slowly fading from the wall
And from an ivory tower he hears her call
"Let the light surround you"

Once lost but I was found
When I heard the stained glass shatter all around me
I sent the spirits tumbling down the hill
But I will hold this one on high above me still
She whispers words to clear my mind
I once could see but now at last I'm blind

I know it's easier to walk away than look it in the eye
But I have given all I could take
And now I've only habits left to break
Tonight I'll still be lying here
Surrounded in all the light

I believe it's the overall vibe of spiritual renewal that permeates the song that hits me like a sucker punch to the soul. Lyrically speaking, it's one of the best songs Dream Theater has ever released. And musically, it's probably one of their most accessible songs. I believe the lyrics were written by keyboardist Kevin Moore who left the band after their 3rd album (Awake) to take his music in a different direction. While their current keyboardist (and Julliard alum) Jordan Rudess has filled the hole on keyboards. I don't think the band has ever fully recovered from the loss of Moore as a songwriter. Of all the members of the band, Moore was arguably the best lyricist.

Surrounded is also one of the most upbeat songs in Dream Theater's catalog. Over the past 9 to 10 years much of their material has trended more towards the metal end of the spectrum. Surrounded however is quite accessible to non-metal listeners.

And normally I'm not a big fan of the operatically trained James LaBrie's vocals, but I find his voice suits this song quite well. He shows uncharacteristic restraint when needed and lets loose on those parts of the song that need that little extra oomph.

It's not a wonder that even eight studio albums and seventeen years later this remains one of my favorite Dream Theater songs.


drewzepmeister said...

Thanks Perplexo, for reminding me about this album! I haven't heard it in a LONG time. (So many albums, so little time) Gonna blow the dust off of this one and give it another spin right now!

bearockr said...

Though I haven't really heard a full album from Dream Theater, but actually speaking, this is one of my favorite bands for their so much awesome music and equally nice lyrics ... John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy are some of my favorite musicians, and the band has also done many notable covers of other bands too.... And Perplexio, have you heard the song "Dance of Eternity" ?? It might be the most technical song by Dream theater and really a very difficult piece to perform as a band... For me, its one of the best instrumentals ever !