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CREATIVE AWAKENING

The Kennedys explore the unconscious mind

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Dreaming is a great source of creativity, says singer/multi-instrumentalist Pete Kennedy, and he and wife Maura tested that theory while writing songs for the latest Kennedys album, Better Dreams (Appleseed).

“Maura had been reading up on dreaming, and she had started keeping a journal of dreams,” he recalls. “She discovered that if you write things down right away when you wake up, and you go back a few months later, you’d be amazed at some of the stuff you wrote down — stuff you hadn’t thought about since then.

“When you’re dreaming, you’re not thinking about stuff like, ‘I gotta go to the post office and the bank,’ ” Pete adds. “That never enters in — you’re just acting on your creative impulses in a dream. And if you write that stuff down, suddenly you have all these songs that have no mundane quality about them.”

Maura wrote a few songs in that manner, Pete says. When she discovered that some friends were interested in doing the same, the folk-rock duo conducted dream-unlocking songwriting seminars in late 2006 and early 2007.

“Everybody in the course had written songs, and they all felt they had made some breakthroughs [from the seminars] in their songwriting,” Pete recalls.
By summer 2007, the Kennedys started thinking about making an album of dream-themed songs.

“You have artistic license once you start writing, so you can take part of the dream and build a song around it,” he says. “You didn’t necessarily write down what’s in the dream.”
Not every song was literally from a dream — “there just had to be connections throughout the album,” Pete says.

” ‘Sago Mine’ — that’s a real event that happened; it’s about those guys who died in that mine in West Virginia,” he explains. “When you die that way — we didn’t get so graphic in the song — you go to sleep from lack of oxygen, so that’s obviously a really different kind of dream. Then the very next song is ‘Light My Way’ — it’s picturing a loved one in a dream.”

The Kennedys recorded Better Dreams in various locations around the United States, including motels in Austin, Texas, and Flagstaff, Ariz.

“We always take portable recording stuff with us,” Pete says. “We haven’t been in a real recording studio since ’95, so we’ve done about eight albums since then all on our portable gear — sometimes at home, and if we go on the road, we take the stuff with us.”

— By Chris M. Junior