The Brilliance, a duo consisting of David Gungor and John Arndt, have just released a single, “Oh Dreamer,” from the act’s album, Suite No. 1: Oh Dreamer. The song is a gentle, relatively sparse work, mainly consisting of electronic music and vocals.
The song begins, “Does love have an open door? /Welcome strangers.” Its chorus reaches out to dreamers/children and hopes for a more beautiful world. “Oh dreamer, teach us to see again,” they sing. The song, although softly spoken, nevertheless carries with it a pointed message. It points back to a senate bill concerning immigration.
The DREAM Act, which is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, is a proposal first introduced in the Senate in August of 2001. Although it’s been presented more times since then, it’s yet to pass. It has inspired the DREAMers movement, comprised of people – primarily undocumented students/youth who would benefit most from its passage. It also likely inspired DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was one of President Barack Obama’s executive orders from 2012 and similar to The DREAM Act.
The crux of the DREAM Act is that, during the first six years, those immigrants that qualify for it would be given a “conditional” status, which would then require graduating from a two-year community college or completing at least two years towards a four-year degree or serve two years in the military. Then, after those six years, “dreamers” that met at least one of these three conditions would qualify to apply for permanent resident status.
This song comes out strongly, not only in support of the DREAM Act, but as an ode to would-be dreamers. When they ask for help in dreaming and seeing again, The Brilliance is – in a sense – asking these ones to help Americans regain their humanity. This pair seems to be suggesting that, if we don’t allow these dreamers the opportunity to become American citizens, then America is not living up to its high ideals. At one point they sing: “Land of liberty/pretend equality.” In other words, United States public policy toward the immigrant population, particularly the college-bound foreign youth, makes America into hypocrites. We sing about being a land of liberty, the lyric suggests, yet our words don’t always match our patriotic hymns.
Toward the song’s end, a much stronger percussion section kicks in, as well as an orchestral part. Indeed, this song is a kind of hymn to dreamers everywhere. The song ends with an unaccompanied question: “Does love have an open door?” With that, The Brilliance suggest that American immigration policies are not only hypocritical, but also unloving.
“Oh Dreamer” likely won’t appeal to the politically conservative-minded. Rather, it is a message that leans distinctly to the left. Nevertheless, whether you agree with The Brilliance or not, it’s difficult not to be moved by this song. It’s a heartfelt message, with a memorable melody. The Brilliance sounds sad, not angry, even though many are angry about the current state of immigration in America. These two musicians are using their musical talents to make a strong statement about where the U.S. stands on foreign students that desire to study in the country, and hopefully become permanent citizens. Ultimately, “Oh Dreamer” is one dreamy political statement.