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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 74
Fri. April 12, 2013

“Horses in my Dreams”
Polly Jean Harvey

2000

“♫ All
trying to
do some
thing/ no
one else has
done
♫”

Even though 2000’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea was Polly Jean Harvey’s most successful album to date, some would be surprise to discover, and Harvey wasn’t satisfied with the results she recorded as she told Mojo Magazine,I felt like I got lost around that record. I wanted to try writing lots of perfect pop songs. It’s great to set oneself projects, but they also have to ring true to your heart and soul. Pop music isn’t where my heart is at.”

If you’re looking for a song that signaled the lyrical direction Polly Jean was heading towards, after Stories, all you have to do is listen to “Horses in my Dreams.” James Bradford described “Horses in my Dreams,” in his book PJ Harvey: Siren Rising, as PJ’s “most personal songs on the album as Harvey said, “That was a very vivid dream I had; the whole song. When I was writing [“Horses in my Dreams”], it was a very difficult, emotional thing to go through doing, because it is so close to me, it is a very personal song that one. And it remains so, really.”

While most people believe that Stories was written in New York City, Polly Jean debunks those theories in Bradford’s book when she explained, “New York album, half of it was written in other places. I just think too much importance is put on that. It fits people’s ideas quite well. People keep wanting to lump me with Patti Smith and the whole New York movement and so to call it the New York album suits them down to the ground.” Ironically the only New York about Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is the albums front cover photograph by Maria Mochnacz. There is a reason the album is also called Stories from the Sea. The universal theme of love and loss can be felt in the streets and in the ocean; one of the reasons Stories was the winner of 2001’s Mercury Prize for best album of the year in the UK.

When asked by Mojo magazine, and PJ Harvey: Siren Rising, if Thom Yorke had sung or played on “Horses in my Dreams” the Radiohead front man replied, “No, but I wish I had. Isn’t that song amazing?” Yorke also commented on the whole Polly sounds like Patti Smith nonsense when he said, “Yeah, I guess. The Patti Smith thing was going on quite a lot during Polly’s sessions. She was very aware of the likeness to the point where she was becoming worried about it. I just told her everything sounded great anyway so she had no need to worry about anything.

Even though Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea won Polly Jean Harvey accolades, her “pop song” album is not one of her favorites. “Horses in my Dreams” is the song that signaled Harvey’s future sound from outside of London, in Dorset, England Harvey would compose further songs that would challenge her creative instincts. Reflect back on this beauty of the moving “Horses in my Dreams,” it is the sound of Harvey evolving into the Uh-Huh Her, White Chalk and Let England Shake seductress that will move us with more “Horses” inspired songs to come.

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