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Story Behind the Song: David Nail, ‘The Sound of a Million Dreams’

For Phil Vassar, “The Sound of a Million Dreams,” the song he co-wrote for David Nail — which appears on Nail’s 2011 album of the same name — is really a tribute to the classic songs and artists that Vassar listened to growing up, the artists who inspired him to become an artist himself and create the songs he crafts today.

Several lines in the song, including the reference to the Merle Haggard classic “Mama Tried,” are straight out of Vassar’s life, and he says that he knew the minute he and co-writer Scooter Carusoe finished the tune that they were onto something incredibly special. Below, Vassar tells The Boot about the thought process behind the moving tune and how he feels about Nail’s interpretation of it.

One day, Scooter and I were doodling around and playing some music, and somewhere, the line “sound of a million dreams” just came out. We were talking about how these songs and artists we listen to on the radio had influenced us in our lives growing up. For me, they totally were, and still are, the soundtrack of my life.

“The Sound of a Million Dreams” is really talking about that. We were talking about “Main Street,” the Bob Seger song, that’s one of my favorite songs, and “Mama Tried.” Merle Haggard was my very first concert I saw ever. I saw Merle Haggard and Van Halen in the same week, so that kind of sums it up for me music-wise. [Laughs] I always wanted to be Merle Haggard and David Lee Roth at the same time! I can listen to a song, and I can still smell honeysuckle, or I can see these moments, being with a girl, all that stuff. These things take you back, and you forget about that.

People can talk about hype and this artist or that artist, but, to me, it’s always going to be about that song. No matter what materializes with anybody, these artists are artists because they have great songs. I think that’s the bottom line.

With a song like “Sound of a Million Dreams,” when you write it, you think, ‘Wow, this is neat, but it’ll probably never be recorded or never be a single.’ But the more I think about it, a song like that, it’s a special song. I think David did a great job on it. He’s a great singer. They did such a great job on the production of it — it’s so simple, they didn’t overproduce it. It’s just him singing a song. That’s what it’s all about.

This story was originally written by Lorie Hollabaugh, and revised by Angela Stefano.

NEXT: Is Traditional Country Music Dead?

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