“Shattered Dreams” is a song by English group Johnny Hates Jazz from their debut studio album, Turn Back the Clock (1988). Written by the band’s lead singer Clark Datchler, the song was released on 23 March 1987 as the album’s lead single.
“Shattered Dreams” entered the UK Singles Chart in March 1987 at #92, but gained popularity through extensive radio play and video rotation on MTV and quickly climbed the charts, peaking at #5 in May 1987. It also reached the top 10 in Canada, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and West Germany.
The song fared even better the following year in the US, where it was released on 16 March 1988 with an alternative music video, shot entirely in black and white and directed by David Fincher, which Datchler actually preferred. The single topped Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Singer Clark Datchler wrote “Shattered Dreams” in a small studio he had set up in the front room of his parents’ house. He had an upright piano, a 4-track portastudio, a drum machine, and a keyboard in the studio. He wrote the song quickly, but the bongo solo took a while to conceive. Datchler knew he had written something special by his dad’s reaction. Usually, his dad would offer musical advice if he asked for it, but would otherwise leave Clark alone. But this time, his dad walked in and told him he had written a big hit, and believed in the song’s potential when few other people in the music industry did.
On the lyrics, Datchler said:
Obviously when I wrote “Shattered Dreams” I had it in mind that it would revolve around divorce, not just a relationship break-up but something a little bit heavier. But actually, the way I think people relate to it is that there are all kinds of shattered dreams that we experience on an individual level or in partnerships or as a people, as a nation, as humanity. We are facing some very serious shattered dreams right now whether that be environmental, or economic, or philosophical even. There are ways that “Shattered Dreams” reaches out and touches people when they are going through difficult times. And in some ways, it’s not necessarily a very hopeful song. But I think the energy of the song is still quite bright which makes it an interesting combination. It’s kind of opposites of each other, but that is something I tend to do lyrically and musically, having serious subjects with more up-tempo music.