This is part 3 of my 3 part tribute to the 30th Anniversary of Dream Theater. I’ve chosen my favorite 30 songs by them and these are not necessarily their best songs of course, just the ones I love and why.
10. “On the Backs of Angels” from A Dramatic Turn of Events – From the awesome opening riff, to the dramatic keys to one of Dream Theater’s best choruses, this song proved that the band was bigger than any one member. This is how I want them to sound, like themselves versus trying to copy other bands. The opening riff is the ringtone on my phone.
9. “Metropolis – Part I: The Miracle And The Sleeper” from Images and Words – If Dream Theater has a “signature” song, this is probably it. It is every bit as important as “Pull Me Under.” It features what is still the most insane instrumental section they have ever done. Many bands have used this song as a blueprint for how to write a prog metal song. This is a classic. I am sure many people would rate it higher and I probably should have as well.
8. “Eve” from the bonus disc for Awake – I first heard this when I saw the band back in 1993 on the “Images and Words” tour. This beautiful and majestic instrumental immediately caught my attention. I was glad they did record it during the “Awake” sessions. “Eve” is the epitome of what Kevin Moore brought to Dream Theater.
7. “Lines in the Sand” from Falling Into Infinity – Anyone who says this album doesn’t have great songs has no clue what they are saying. Derek Sherinian’s trademark opening sets the mood as the song blasts through so many great riffs. Doug Pinnick’s vocals are perfect through out the song. And it has one of John Petrucci’s best solos of all-time.
6. “Misunderstood” from Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence – I should mention that I prefer my own edit of this song which combines the best parts of the edited version with the album version. Regardless, the lyrics are perfect. The song is lyrically similar to “Limelight” by Rush. Musically, the melodies are incredible. The overall strange production works well too.
5. “These Walls” from Octavarium – After suffering through my least favorite Dream Theater album of all time “Train of Thought,” this song signaled to me that Dream Theater could still SOUND like Dream Theater. The riffs, the synth hook and a melodic chorus. The song kicks fucking ass. If I were to play a song that best fit what the band sounds like plus was somewhat radio friendly, “These Walls” would be it.
4. “Solitary Shell (single edit)” from Greatest Hit… – It might seem weird to include a radio edit but the edited version actually helps make this song so much better. First off, the ending on the album sounds duct taped on. Plus the drum fills on the album version sound out of place, but when you switch them on this edit they work! The song has tasty drum fills, a dancing bass line and a melody that requires singing.
3. “A Change Of Seasons” from A Change Of Seasons – The epic of all epics. Far and away, Portnoy’s best lyrics about life and growing older. This version was changed from the original demo that was widely circulated. I do wish they had recorded the song like it was for “Images and Words.” Still, it retained all of its power and majesty (get it?). It’s amazing that a band as young as they were when they wrote this was able to do transitions as well as the ones on this song. A classic.
2. “Space Dye Vest” from Awake – I first heard this song as a Kevin Moore demo BEFORE “Awake” was even released. I had no clue it would be on the album since it sounded nothing like what Dream Theater usually sounded like. While this version stays true to Kevin’s demo, it does have more power than his demo and it features what I call the “last flight of the original band” at the end of the track. They have never done anything like this song since and with good reason. It is all Kevin.
1. “Surrounded” from Images and Words – This is no contest for me. The song was originally titled “The Longest Night” and I’d be hard pressed to think of a song that has literally saved me from myself more than once. It forced me to turn and face my life. I am so grateful to this song. Yes, I miss Kevin Moore and this is another reason why. Both this album and this song have changed by life.
So that’s it for my 30 favorite Dream Theater songs. Of note, I did not include any songs from “When Dream and Day Unite,” “Train of Thought,” and “Systematic Chaos.” I do like WDADU but the songs just could not beat any of these songs. As for the latter 2 albums, you’d have to remove every single DT album before I’d include any music from them on this type of list. Thank you all for reading and now you may rip apart my choices!