My song today is ‘In Dreams’. This song was composed and sung by performer Roy Orbison. An operatic ballad of lost love, it was released as a single on ‘Monument Records’ in February 1963. It became the title track on the album ‘In Dreams’ released in July of the same year. The song has a unique structure in seven musical movements in which Orbison sings through two octaves beyond the range of most rock and roll singers.
The song peaked on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ charts at Number 7 and charted in the United Kingdom for five months while Orbison toured sharing billing with the ‘Beatles’. It gained notability again in 1987 when Orbison released a re-recorded anthology of his greatest hits. The year prior, David Lynch had used the song provocatively in his dark thriller ‘Blue Velvet’, helping to revive Orbison's career. The theme of the song was interwoven in similar compositions throughout his tenure as a musician. As a result, several collections of Orbison's music share the title of the song. Rolling Stone magazine listed ‘In Dreams’ at Number 319 of their ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
When this record was first released, I had just travelled to Canada six weeks earlier and was living in Montreal. Ever since my mid-teens, I dreamed of one day seeing Canada and travelling around Canada and America. Having received some compensation for a bad traffic accident I had incurred at the age of 11 years made my dream possible by providing me with a financial cushion that ensured I would not be stuck.
My mother was a dreamer all her life and I am sure that I inherited this romantic aspect from her character. My first real dream come true was after my traffic accident damaged my spine, and I was told that I would never walk again.
For three years dreamed that I would walk again by ‘visual exercises’ allied to ‘progressive relaxation’ (a form of self-hypnosis), whereby I imagined myself walking with painful legs, at a time when my spinal damage left me without feelingbeneath my waistline. Before I was discharged from the hospital nine months later, I started to feel pain in my legs. There was no medical explanation why my brain had started receiving pain messages transmitted through my spine; merely an acceptance by the medics that something inexplicable had happened and that there was now every chance that I might walk again!
Over a period of three years, I had over fifty operations on my left leg. During this period, my growth was stunted and I finished up with a left leg 3 inches shorter than my right leg. I was left with a massive limp and was advised to wear a built-up boot with metal braces up each side. I refused. Instead, I dreamed about the day when I would have a slight limp instead of a limp that represented a 3-inch deficiency.
Again, I used ‘visual imagination’ exercises allied to ‘progressive relaxation’ methods. When I walked, whether I walked with a huge limp or not, ‘in my mind ‘ I held an image of me walking with a slight limp which did not represent the differential of a 3 inches difference in length between both legs.
Between the ages of 15 years until I was 25, I continued with my ‘visualisation exercises’ allied to ‘progressive relaxation’ methods to minimise my limp. Never using built-up shoes/boots over these years, my hips readjusted themselves and I finished up taking what I called ‘rolling-through steps’ each time I strode. I limped moderately. It was as though I missed a beat during my stride and thereby missed out the huge limp that a 3-inch leg deficiency usually brings with it.
When I went to live in Canada a few years in 1963, I was a particularly good singer. My arrogance and overconfidence at the time, however, led me to believe that as far as crooners and ballad singers were concerned, I was the best there was! In Montreal, I worked as a professional singer for two months in a night club which was ironically called ‘The Last Chance Saloon’. Each night there would be three or four rotating singers, with each singer performing half-an-hour spots between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am. Two of the singers were regular nightly singers (of which I was one), and each night there would be two additional new singers added to the bill. During my two month’s singing at ‘The Last Chance Saloon’, I sang alongside dozens of singers. I dreamed of being the best singer of all but had to conclude that there were some singers who were as good as I was, and one or two who were better than me! My greatest character flaw at the time was that if I wasn’t the best batsman on the cricket pitch, then I intended to take my bat home, pull up the stumps and leave the pitch forever.
It would be 53 years before I ever sang in public again. At the age of 74, I started singing practice daily after reading a newspaper article that singing improved one’s lung capacity and increased the level of oxygen in one’s blood. For three years I have practised singing for a few hours daily and I post a song daily on my Facebook page. The upshot is that both my lung capacity and blood oxygenation levels have greatly improved 20 per cent to normal reading levels.
Strange though it may seem to some readers of my daily posts but being able to sing some of the songs I am able to sing today (as a 77-year-old man in my medical condition), is only made possible because before I sing, I place my body into a state of ‘progressive relaxation’ and I ‘visually imagine’ that I am singing okay. That is why I often close my eyes during my singing performance as I 'visually imagine' the story of the song. This process naturally enables me to become more emotionally connected with the words I am singing.
Throughout my working life, I was fortunate enough to help a great many people who had been through many workers prior to myself unsuccessfully. Many of the people who I helped to change their problematic behaviour pattern long term, I believe was helped because I was the only known worker in England who was using all three methods of 'visualisation images, autosuggestion, and progressive relaxation methods' in conjunction with each other.
A few months after I married my wife, Sheila on my 70th birthday (Sheila is 14 years younger than I am), I was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and was given a life expectancy of three years. My type of leukaemia has two major characteristics; first, it renders me with an ineffective immune system, and secondly, my type of illness will result in it giving me more different kinds of cancer by my impure blood attacking other body organs the longer I live.
Since I was first diagnosed with blood cancer, I have had lymphoma, I have had rectal cancer warts, and I have had malignant skin cancer. I have had two nine-month courses of chemotherapy, three years of fortnightly blood transfusions, two twenty-session courses of radiotherapy, and nine cancer operations (six operations during the past 15 months).
While my wife and my faith in God has been a constant support to me throughout these years, I have not the slightest doubt that continuing with my lifelong practice of ‘visualisation exercises’ have helped me pull through some operations against the medical odds. I never enter any medical operation before using autosuggestion, visual imagery, and getting myself completely relaxed before the anesthetic kicks in.
I am unashamedly a Christian, and all Christians will believe wholeheartedly that God is responsible for me still being alive today. I have always been a 'positive thinking optimist'. I have always believed in the ‘power of prayer’ and have had many hundreds of good and loving people pray for me daily for many years, as well as offering up masses on my behalf and lighting candles with me in mind. I have always believed in ‘the power of the mind over that of the body’ (a belief I accepted from eastern philosophy from the age of 11 years onward), and allied to my belief in 'the power of the mind' is my own belief in 'the power of visualisation' whilst 'progressively relaxed’ to bring about all manner of positive, physical and mental change.
Finally, while I believe in ‘fate and destiny’, I also believe in the common sense approach of helping oneself in the most positive of ways possible. Lastly like my mother before me, I have always had the ability to ‘believe in dreams’ and I consider all of my ‘visualisation experiences’ throughout my life as being no more than daydreams come true and heartfelt prayers answered!
Love and peace Bill xxx