Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Travis Tritt, “Tell Me I Was Dreaming”

“Tell Me I Was Dreaming

Travis Tritt

Written by Bruce Ray Brown and Travis Tritt

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

June 30, 1995

A shockingly manipulative music video powers a Tritt hit to the top.

The Road to No. 1

After topping both charts with “Foolish Pride,” the next two singles from Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof underperformed. The title track missed the top twenty, and “Between an Old Memory and Me” missed the top ten.  For the final single, Tritt filmed a music video sequel to his earlier No. 1 hit “Anymore,” and it played a major role in it becoming a No. 1 single.

The No. 1

Let’s talk about the song first.

It’s one of Tritt’s stronger ballads, with a powerful chorus that he delivers with heartfelt intensity.  Its biggest shortcoming is its length – the radio edit is nearly five minutes.   But it’s a good song, and definitely worthy of inclusion among his biggest hits.

However, the reason it went No. 1 was directly connected to the video, which served as a sequel to “Anymore.”  Tritt is back as wheelchair-bound Vietnam War veteran Mac, now happily married with a baby on the way.

The plotline is shocking in its manipulation of emotion, having his wife slip and fall into the water, as he watches helplessly from his wheelchair.  The baby lives.  His partner does not.  It’s heartlessly cruel.

But it got him back to No. 1, so I guess it did its job?

The Road From No. 1

Tritt went top ten with his next single, “Sometimes She Forgets,” which was the only major hit from his Greatest Hits: From the Beginning collection.  Tritt then scored his final No. 1 single with the lead track from The Restless Kind. We will cover it when we get to 1996.

“Tell Me I Was Dreaming” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. tHe song? C+
    The Video? possibly thee greateast of all time. It was so captifying, i didnt even know the song had ended until the video did! A+

  2. I don’t beleive the video’s heartless cruelty is what took this single to the top. The wonderful production of the single steals the show for me.

    The song stands alone as an atmospheric, woozy interpretation of a dazed lover trying to sort out dream from nightmare.

    The new day dawning sounds menacing and unwanted. The dream itself sounds elusive. The guitar reverb is haunting. The Hammond organ droning behind Paul Franklin’s steel guitar, and Sam Bacco’s kettle drums all add to the hazy sonic landscape. I love the simple lyrical tension between his lover either being “gone” or “home.” The song is painfully simple.

    The instrumental outro sounds like gentle weeping. It is so spooky and unresolved.

    The song actually sounds like Tritt “is in a state of confusion.”

    The video works because the tension in the song supports the strain in Mac’s life. Sure, it is manipulative and there could have been more subtle indicators of his vulnerability, but the video works in its directness.

    After watching the video, viewers are left in their own stunned state of confusion.

    • The video definitely was the primary driving force of the song’s success. It sped up the charts once the clip was released, and it had the same impact on album sales. It was covered extensively at the time in the music trade magazines.

  3. At least for me, if the song’s video never existed, it would still be in my top 10 for the decade. I can see the criticism for the tone of the video, but it still stuck very close to the message of the song at least, giving a different meaning to the lover saying “goodbye”.

    Was the closing vamp part of the “radio edit” or just the retail single? I don’t recall hearing the vamp on the radio at all, which cuts over a minute off the runtime.

  4. Peter – You couldn’t have described the production values of this song any better! The entire production of the track really does reflect the emotional turmoil and trauma that the narrator in the song is feeling perfectly. I’ve always really liked the sound of the electric guitar after the first chorus, and the echoing of Tritt’s vocals throughout the second verse definitely add to that state of confusion he is feeling. Even the opening guitar in the intro is like the sound of the narrator waking up to a living hell, which is the new life without his loved one around. The screaming guitar in the instrumental break is very nightmarish, as well.

    Another thing I love is Tritt’s performance, which absolutely nails the painful emotions of realizing that someone you love is no longer in your life, and at the same time wishing and hoping that it didn’t really happen after all. He even sounds like he’s just about to break down and cry on the very last line when he starts singing “Darling, tell me….” I’m always up for great emotional performances, and hearing this again tonight, I’m reminded of how much I always enjoyed Tritt’s singing on this one.

    For some reason, this one, along with “Anymore” and “Can I Trust You With My Heart” sort of fell to the back burner in recent years when thinking of my favorite Travis Tritt ballads, because I just decided they were a bit too power balladish for my tastes. After listing to this song a few times tonight, I’m now wondering what was I thinking, lol. It could also be that I can now feel the pain in this song more than I ever could before due to my own personal losses, which has given me a new level of appreciation for it. Anyway, it’s back among my favorites of his, along with “Help Me Hold On,” “Drift Off To Dream,” “Best Of Intentions,” etc. (I also really love “Can I Trust You With My Heart” and “Anymore” now, as well).

    I also agree that the video is very painful to watch, and I honestly still have a hard time wanting to revisit it. My personal favorite of the Tritt trilogy is “If I Lost You,” which is also a very emotional one for me.

    It’s hard to believe that this was the number one right before Shania’s iconic “Any Many Of Mine” which was about as opposite of a song to this as you could get. It just shows what a great variety radio still had in 1995, and that not every song had to be an upbeat ditty just because it was summer. Also like the Shania song, it brings back various great memories from 1995 for me, and I even remember hearing it when my dad was driving us to and from Circuit City. A little later in early 1997, I remember us both enjoying it on the radio again one night when he was driving me back home, because it had been a while since we heard it. This pretty much remained as one of my dad’s favorite Tritt songs since those days. :)

  5. …that clip makes morgan wallen’s hijacking of jesus for his latest slip of good taste and manners almost bearable – once the throwing up has stopped. great song though.

    • The pivot from “your handicap doesn’t define your manhood, come home and be with Annie” in the “Anymore” clip, to “Annie died because you’re in a wheelchair and couldn’t help her” in this one still makes me so damn angry.

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