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Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused
Universal Pictures

Did you know Matthew McConaughey dreams in song and rhythm?

The bongo-playing actor is stepping into the world of children’s literature and wants the world to know about his dreams

What are your dreams like? Do they play out like mini-movies, complete with storylines and dramatic tension? Are they more like the paintings of Salvador Dalí, surrealist and bizarre? Perhaps they are filled with boring tasks, like trips to the supermarket or visits to Ikea. Or, as Matthew McConaughey said in a recent interview about his own reveries, maybe your dreams come to you like a Bob Dylan song. 

McConaughey isn’t giving up acting and pivoting to dream reading. Instead, the How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days star dropped by USA Today to talk about how his dreams have informed his upcoming foray into children’s publishing: a picture book called Just Because.

“This book came to me in a dream. It was like a folk song ditty. I woke up at 2:30 and just went and wrote it down. I thought it was a Bob Dylan ditty, which it kind of is,” McConaughey mused.

Indeed, in a promotional video put together by publisher Penguin Kids featuring an extract from the book, there is an air of ol’Bobby D in McConaughey’s drawling narration.

Given that Bob Dylan has written over 600 songs, it’s very possible that such a modern-day troubadour dreams in music. This is where McConaughey and Dylan perhaps have more things in common – as McConaughey puts it: “That’s how I think and dream, in song and rhythm.”

If this form of dreaming sounds counter-intuitive to actual rest, that might be deliberate. After all, according to McConaughey, Just Because is actually just a book about life and its contradictions. 

“It’s about the poetry of life, instead of having the pressure on us that feels like we’re told every day that we need to be absolute about every single thing,” he said. “That’s not really life. Life’s much more poetic, odd, ironic. Once you admit all these contradictions, life becomes much more of a poem.”

There is evidence to support McConaughey’s claims of rhythmic thinking. The Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past actor has been known to venture into the great outdoors in nothing but the skin he was born in to play the bongos, an event he recalled in his 2020 memoir Greenlights.

“It was time to stand over my drum set and follow the rhythm of the blues before they got to Memphis, on my favourite Afro-Cuban drum. It was time for a jam session,” McConaughey wrote. “What I didn’t know was that while I was banging away in my bliss, two Austin policemen also thought it was time to barge into my house unannounced, wrestle me to the ground with nightsticks, handcuff me and pin me to the floor.”

Nowadays it seems that McConaughey’s desire to follow the rhythm results in picture books instead of prison time. It’s all part of his ongoing journey of growth.

“I’ve gotten to an age now where I know that if I let myself have fun doing something, I don’t become reckless, I don’t become irresponsible, I don’t become a tyrant,” he said. “I’m working on the riddle of life, and that riddle excites the heck out of me.” Far out, man.

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