Warning: Wake Up Your Dreams Before It’s Too Late!



Following your dreams…

When I was 19 years old, I decided to leave my small Alabama hometown and strike out on a journey to the Big Apple: New York City. It took a combination of naivety and hard-headedness, I suppose. After all, I didn’t know anyone in New York City, and I had a grand savings of $300 in my pocket as I rode that Amtrak train 16 hours North. But I had a big dream: I wanted to sing my own songs in NYC. After a couple years, I manage to find a job in the music biz writing jingles and programing tracks for such clients as the Armed Forces and Red Lobster. Not at all what I had planned when I moved to NYC, but I was paying the bills and New York was expensive. I told myself my dreams could wait. I let them sleep.

Enough is enough!

Before I knew it, 13 years had crept by…13!!! I woke up one day and realized I was just making a living. Yes, I was doing music, but not what I felt I was meant to be doing. “How long am I going to let my dream sleep?” I remember asking myself. Another 13 years? 26 years? Longer? That’s when I decided to wake up and start writing my own songs. I recorded demos for five of them and began thinking of ways to get my songs to artists who might record them. I got up each day more excited, and went to bed more at peace. I didn’t know how to achieve my goal, but I had awoken the dream. It took another 7 years, actually, to find my way to Nashville and celebrate the first of several #1 songs as a writer (at the ripe young age of a dreamer…40 years old!) with a song called Beautiful Mess.

I want to encourage you today to awaken your sleeping dreams…

Dust them off and sweep them to the front of your thoughts and prayers. Cast aside the negative doubts and throw yourself into the day and do one thing that gets you a step closer to whatever you dream. You will smile more and sleep better tonight.

Write On!  ~Clay


Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here: www.songtown.comat www.claymills.com



15 thoughts on “Warning: Wake Up Your Dreams Before It’s Too Late!

  1. Thanks, Clay. This one spoke to me. I was a singer/songwriter in college up in Boston back in the 80a but didn’t have the confidence to pursue it. I went for the more practical career, family, etc and don’t regret it but at 55 with an empty next I’ve begun performing again and have a regular gig at a local club here in the DC area where I now live. My partner and I set up a FB page for our band (@CollideDuo) and We’re about to upload some music. Website to follow. Just entered a songwriting contest and have found your blogs and videos really helpful.

    Next song that’s going on the set list – Never Too Late! Opening lines – “Turn the page on the calendar, say goodbye to another year, still my life ain’t going the way I planned…”

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Hey Ray, good points. I have written several hundred blog posts here. It’s impossible to put the whole story in one post. 🙂 If you follow my blog you can get all the details. This story is not meant to be for everyone. We are all in different situations, right? ….and is not to say musicians are not working hard. It’s more about how sometimes we work hard as a way to not focus on what we are really meant to be doing. Myself…I was working hard in music but was not following my dream of being a songwriter. That required me to take another big shot and move to Nashville. Yes, that story is in another blog. As far as advice and strategies, Marty Dodson & I have helped many writers move to Nashville, and get record deals and publishing deals. The SongTown community has educated over 6,000 writers around the world on a daily basis for 7 years. Check out the membership sometime and ask around of other members. You’ll find us to always be available and helpful with strategy coming out our ears! 🙂

  3. Thanks Clay. I look at music and sonwriting as a life-long learning experience. And on the rare occasion when I surprise myself with a musical phrase that brings a tear to my eye, I might not win a Grammy or rock the world but I know I am growing and moving in the right direction. It doesn’t happen often enough, but it’s enough to prod me to keep trying.

  4. Since I began my songwriting journey I’ve found that for myself songcrafting is not a sprint…it’s a marathon. Learning to craft great songs takes study, practice, editing ability; clear and present awareness of the ever changing human condition. Money for demos is the very last thing on my mind when crafting a song. I’ve written hundreds of songs, if every song I write warrants a demo, I will be bankrupt in a year. When the stars align, my angle is right, my point of view is correct, my prosody is spot on, rhyme scheme dead on, range of melody perfect, correct song form, lyrics have zero holes, title is unique, lyrics are conversational and universal, opening line is strong as hell, detail and imagery are vivid, no tense issues, I’ve presented my singer in a positive light, chorus soars to the heavens and appears quickly, the lyric and melody are easy to sing and memorable, great contrast and new information presented in my middle eight. Only after each of these criteria have been met do I even consider a demo. Sometimes great songs to me are like an illusion of a St. Patrick’s day green oasis in the desert, hard to find and figments of my imagination. This is the allure and mystique of songcrafting for me, like hitting the song lottery if you will.

  5. Thanks Clay. I needed to read that today. Time goes by so fast, doesn’t it, and along the way to our dreams we often get side tracked. I’m glad you chose to follow your dreams!

  6. What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore—
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over—
    like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?

    Langston Hughes

  7. I’m trying to figure out whether I’m in that 13 year sleep still or whether I’ve crossed into that 7 year climb. Whatever the split, my cumulative numbers are shaping up to be similar so it’s encouraging to see examples of songwriting pros who made it this round-about way!

  8. What if your story were a song?

    Beautiful Dreamer

    V1 Small town, sweet home Alabama, just 19 years old
    Full of fire and dreams that clamour to one day become gold
    Half hard headed, half a fool, but two halves make a whole
    I’ll lay down my tools but I won’t lay down my soul
    Three hundred bucks in my pocket, sitting on the Northbound Amtrak
    Gonna song my songs in New York City, I won’t be turning back
    Now I’m writing jingles, no hit singles, at least it pays the bills
    Life by numbers, my dream slumbers, time just won’t stand still

    CH1 Beautiful dreamer, the years go by, they don’t wait for you
    And you’re asking how, and sometimes why, to make your dreams come true

    V “Your dreams can wait” I told myself, and New York sure ain’t cheap
    Thirteen years passed me by, and I let those dreams sleep
    Making a living, ain’t living the dream, I asked myself “How long?”
    “How long til I wake those dreams and make my own song?”
    So I made a demo and then another, then a grand total of five
    I didn’t know how to get there yet, but at least the dream was alive
    I came to Nashville, Tennessee, I was just about back home
    See you’ll never find a way to your dream, if you never dare to roam

    CH2 Beautiful dreamer, you’re getting old, time won’t wait for you
    You’re still breathing, so be bold, gotta make your dreams come true

    BR It was seven more years til I was blessed with my moment in the sun
    I guess it must have been a Beautiful Mess, cos it made it to number one
    Now I hope I ain’t bragging or dragging out this story just a bit too long
    I’m just tellin’ it to tell you how to keep on keeping on

    CH3 Beautiful dreamer, you’ll make it somehow, it’s not too late for you
    Fight for your dream, your time is now, you’ll make your dreams come true

    V3 Dust off your dreams and hold them close in your thought and prayers
    You’re the one they’re calling to, you’re the only one that hears
    Take one step, today and tomorrow, to bring your dreams to light
    Your joy will overcome your sorrow and you’ll sleep better tonight

    CH1 Beautiful dreamer, the years go by, they don’t wait for you
    And you’re asking how, and sometimes why, to make your dreams come true
    CH2 Beautiful dreamer, you’re getting old, time won’t wait for you
    You’re still breathing, so be bold, gotta make your dreams come true
    CH3 Beautiful dreamer, you’ll make it somehow, it’s not too late for you
    Fight for your dream, your time is now, you’ll make your dreams come true

    Demo soon 🙂

    by Sean O’Connor 2/6/18

  9. Yep – positive inspiration and encouragement is good! I’ve got lots of “old” songs and these posts remind me of one in particular called “Vagabonds and Kings” … “let’s drag out our dreams to the light of the day / let them grow strong, show us the way”

  10. Thanks Clay!

    That helps with my resolve to keep trying! What took you 13 years to realize took me 22! It’s an extra challenge, I think, to be a rookie at something when you are in your 40’s! So many negative, outside influences!

    When you’re a musician and trying to live your dream and aging, but have no successes to justify it (hit song, press, awards), you are accused of needing to grow up, face the truth, be more responsible, etc. As soon as you receive some kind of recognition, suddenly you are stoic, talented, eccentric… Accepted!

    I think the trick is sticking with it long enough to cross that bridge! It seems I’ve needed motivation a lot more lately. So thank you for this motivational article and testimonial!

    Judd Warrick

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