Behind the Song: American Dream by Matthew Moran

American Dream lyrics and music by Songwriter Matt Moran“From East Coast to West, through the soul of the heartland, though I’m in pursuit I know it’s chasing me.”
I wrote the first verse of this song (not the above verse) sometime in 2002 or 2003. The verse would pop up in my head from time to time with a nagging, “you oughtta work on this.”

In 2007 I had made a decision to be a bit more intentional with my songwriting. Rather than wait on inspiration per se – writing when the mood struck me, I would pick some general themes or stories and write to them on a schedule. Still, “American Dream” sat for awhile longer while I wrote, “South To Mexico”, “Everyday Lies”, and a few other theme – as opposed to inspiration driven – tunes.

Then I picked up a file I keep with scraps of paper with lyric ideas and American Dream was the first scrap that came out.

The song is one of the most simple musically – largely 3 chords. But it is one of the favorites for the band and one that I get a lot of comments on when performing live. People love the middle-of-America, back to basics, universal lesson.

In this version of the recording, Bill Dutcher, an Arizona guitarist, songwriter, and performer added some slide dobro and electric guitar to “flavor” to the song.



Copyright © 2009 – Matthew Moran (Arrogant Sage Music)

An old yellow note read government repo
Just a sign of the times since the factory left town
The windows are dark, lonely, broken, and boarded
I see a half dozen more just a half a block down
And I can recall the tears on mama’s face
When daddy handed her the key
Just three rooms and a garden out back
But it was called the American Dream

I’ve spent half my life chasing prey so elusive
My burning desire is this dream to be free
From East Coast to West, through the soul of the heartland
Though I’m in pursuit I know it’s chasing me
And I’ve seen the look in the older men’s eyes
They shake their heads in disbelief
”Son,” they say, “don’t miss the life that you’re living.”
”Cuz that’s the American Dream”

For 20 long years I’ve been seeking asylum
My dream just a prison, my ambition a chain
Through my sacrifice I leave you this lesson
To save you this sorrow, to save you this pain
It’s love that you need for a life that’s worth living
Don’t trade it for some vagabond dream
It’s a heart, not a purse, that you should be filling
Because that’s the American Dream

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