Music

Why Clay Walker’s ‘Dreaming With My Eyes Open’ Converted me to Country

I have a special connection to country music, but it hasn’t always been that way. Growing up I was surrounded by the genre and, as a rebellious kid, I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t think country was “cool,” I thought it was lame.

George Strait, Tim McGraw and Clay Walker changed that for me in the early 90s, but there was one particular song that really changed everything. I still remember being in the backseat of my parents’ car, forced to listen to our local country station, when Walker’s “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” came on. 

The opening riffs instantly hooked me. There was something infectious about it. Was I connecting with a country song despite my reluctance? What was happening?

I drowned out the conversation around me to listen to the young, clear voice on our radio waves. His sound wasn’t particularly distinctive but I knew I’d heard him before. His other singles hadn’t impressed me — until now. There was something about the upbeat track combined with Walker’s voice that spoke to me. 

I wasn’t even 10 years old but the lyrics to “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” were trying to tell me something. I didn’t fully understand the meaning behind the words (that didn’t stop me from belting them out while playing Super Nintendo) but I unsuccessfully tried to interpret them after each listen. “How the heck would someone dream with their eyes open,” I wondered.

By this point, I’d set aside the 90s alternative rock that I was solely listening to. This was the beginning of my quest to broaden my musical horizons. I memorized Walker’s entire self-titled debut album from start to finish, only taking a break from it to listen to McGraw’s Not a Moment Too Soon or any Strait that I could get my hands on. Overall, country had worked its way into my life with just one connection to one song.

During this time, a love for music was instilled deep inside me. I started realizing I wanted to always be around music. That was my dream. As a 10-year-old trying to find her way, there were poor attempts at songwriting and car karaoke where I tried to match my vocals to Martina McBride’s (although I sounded more like a dying animal). I didn’t know how music would play into my life and future but I knew it would. Basically, I had found my first love. 

After that registered, I then listened to “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” with more clarity. It meant one thing to me: follow my dreams. My dreams were telling me to get involved with music. “Dreaming With My Eyes Open” helped me chase my dreams and still gives me that same feeling all those years later.

“Dreaming With My Eyes Open” Lyrics

I spent half my life on bended knee
Begging somebody to change
And the other half prayin’ to God
That they never would

And all it got me was twice as lost
When it all turned out the same
But all that beggin’ finally did somebody good

I used to dream all night
Of the day that was gone
But come the mornin’ light
Forever from now on

Gonna do my dreamin’
With my eyes wide open
I’ll do my looking back
With my eyes closed

We can do some livin’
Or spend our whole life hopin’
‘Cause in the end we’re left with
The one we chose

So, I’ll do my dreaming
With my eyes wide open

Every time the world moved on
I fell a little further behind
From runnin’ back
Or followin’ someone home

Till I learned that one step forward
Will take you further on
Than a thousand back
Or a million that ain’t your own

I used to dream all night
Of the day that was gone
But come the mornin’ light
Forever from now on

Gonna do my dreamin’
With my eyes wide open
I’ll do my looking back
With my eyes closed

We can do some livin’
Or spend our whole life hopin’
But in the end we’re left with
The one we chose

So, I’ll do my dreaming
With my eyes wide open

We can do some livin’
Or spend our whole life hopin’
‘Cause in the end we’re left with
The one we chose

So, I’ll do my dreaming
With my eyes wide open

Now Watch: 10 of the Best Country Karaoke Songs

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Why Clay Walker’s ‘Dreaming With My Eyes Open’ Converted me to Country