Before Letting Go Of A Dream, I thought of myself as a songwriter. I wrote songs. Anything I had put together was a collection of some songs I had written. Though I had been writing songs since I was 11 years old and had made a number of homemade “albums,” I had spent most of my twenties as the lead guitarist in my older brother’s band and we had been doing pretty well, so I wasn’t really pursuing my own stuff so much.
Early in 2005, though, the band decided to call it quits and I was left with a sense of freedom about my own music. I had spent the previous winter learning my way around digital recording, building a studio in my house and recording a collection of songs I called Summer Friend. I experimented with a lot of different methods and different types of songs, and when it was finished I felt like my palette had been cleansed of a lot of the songs and ideas I had been kicking around for a number of years.
I often find that creativity comes in bursts, and when I finished Summer Friend I felt like I was just getting started. I had always loved “concept albums” and I knew that many of my favorite albums were the ones that had a certain mood to them that carried all the way through. Very quickly, an idea began to take shape. The title Letting Go Of A Dream came almost immediately. I was going through a time of deconstruction of my ideals of romantic love. I had always been a hopeless romantic, but I was beginning to fear that this was a big part of why I hadn’t been successful in love. As Jackson Browne once wrote, I had tried “to catch the love that I’d heard of / in books and films and songs / Now there’s a world of illusion and fantasy / in the place where the real world belongs.”
Tellingly, though, he adds, “I still look for the beauty in songs.” And that is what Letting Go Of A Dream is all about. As I tried to extricate myself from the burden of expectations of a romantic ideal, I wanted to look back fondly one last time at the moments that had made me believe. The album is bookended by two songs (“The Stars Go On Forever” and “A Summer Night When We Were Young”) that try to define this wonder and loss, while the middle of the album is a chronological ode to individual moments and people that had inspired the dream in me along the way, from 5th Grade through my college years.
In the end, I felt like I made my first real album (thus it is the oldest album on this site). I decided to take it and pursue a career as a musician. I planned on hitting the road and not coming back (that turned out to be another kind of dream that didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected). Over ten years later, I can look back a Letting Go Of A Dream with the same kind of fondness that it looks back on what came before. I am still proud of it, and I hope you enjoy it.
– Josh Caress