Tom Verlaine: Souvenir from a Dream (1978)

 |   |  1 min read

Tom Verlaine: Souvenir from a Dream (1978)

After the exceptional Television fell apart in '78 following their classic debut Marquee Moon and the lesser Adventure, guitarist/singer and writer Tom Verlaine dropped from sight for a year.

During that time he quietly went about recording his self-titled debut album in two and three day sessions.

With a core of Television bassist Fred Smith and Patti Smith's drummer Jay Dee Daugherty (plus a few others including the singer Deerfrance from John Cale's band at the time), Verlaine delivered an album that was almost flawless in production (it was mixed by Bob Clearmountain) and only let down by lacking the raw tension and dynamic with Television guitarist Richard Lloyd which had made their debut album so extraordinary.

He opted for a more melodic guitar style which many noted pulled back rather than extended itself in the manner of his best work.

But such comparisons were uncalled for because Verlaine was clearly moving on from the taut energy of Marquee Moon and in tracks like the eerie Souvenir From a Dream and the claustrophobic Kingdom Come ("I'll be breaking these rocks until the Kingdom comes . . . up in the towers they're watching me, hoping I'm gonna die").

He was reaching towards another sound entirely.


That the piano (Bruce Brody who was on the Patti Smith Because the Night session) rather than guitar was prominent in some places spoke volumes, and here too the edgy pop element evident (Red Leaves, Breakin' in my Heart which was a cousin to the track Marquee Moon) was also interesting.

There were a couple of lost opportunities, notably the throwaway Yonki Time which sounded like Pere Ubu on happy pills and not much more.

But alongside Kingdom Come (which Bowie later sensibly covered), Souvenir from a Dream -- which Tom described as "might easily be the second part of Venus de Milo" off Marquee Moon -- counts among the best songs in Tom Verlaine's now lengthy solo career.

It is a hypnotic piece of spectral, poetic lyrics coupled with compelling music.

Listen now. 

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Jona Lewie: You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties (1980)

Jona Lewie: You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties (1980)

Stiff Records in the UK pulled together an unlikely roster of acts in the late Seventies from Elvis Costello to Ian Dury, Rachel Sweet to Jona Lewie, Larry Wallis to Graham Parker and Wreckless... > Read more

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and had spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

JAMAICA'S STUDIO ONE AND CLEMENT DODD: The focal point of reggae

JAMAICA'S STUDIO ONE AND CLEMENT DODD: The focal point of reggae

King Stitt is something to see all right. His glazed eyes appear to look in different directions. There are huge bags beneath them, his greying dreadlocks are tucked under a huge tea cosy, his wiry... > Read more

Auckland City,  Where The Past is Present

Auckland City, Where The Past is Present

I just caught a glance at him out of the corner of my eye when I heard him shout “Why don’t you keep quiet”. Or words to that effect, with unprintable expletives included. He was... > Read more