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Images and Words
Images and Words
Studio album by Dream Theater
Released 7 July 1992
Recorded October–December 1991 at BearTracks Studios, Suffern, New York, and The Hit Factory, New York City
Genre Progressive metal, progressive rock
Length 57:04
Label Atco
Producer David Prater
Dream Theater studio albums chronology
When Dream and Day Unite
Images and Words
Singles from Images and Words
  1. "Pull Me Under"
    Released: 29 August 1992
  2. "Metropolis—Part I: "The Miracle and the Sleeper""
    Released: 1992
  3. "Take the Time"
    Released: 1993
  4. "Another Day"
    Released: 1 July 1993

Images and Words is the second album by Dream Theater, which was released on July 7, 1992. The album is somewhat known for being the band's breakout album, gaining them much mainstream attention. It is so far the only Dream Theater album to be certified Gold by the RIAA. It is also known for being the first Dream Theater album to feature James LaBrie on vocals.



1. Pull Me Under (Moore) 8:14

2. Another Day (Petrucci) 4:23

3. Take the Time (Dream Theater) 8:21

4. Surrounded (Moore) 5:30

5. Metropolis—Part I: "The Miracle and the Sleeper" (Petrucci) 9:32

6. Under a Glass Moon (Petrucci) 7:03

7. Wait for Sleep (Moore) 2:31

8. Learning to Live (Myung) 11:30


Dream Theater wrote most of the material that would end up on Images and Words in the period following When Dream and Day Unite while auditioning for a vocalist, though the song Metropolis dates back to their days as Majesty and was often performed live with Charlie Dominici. A three song demo including Metropolis, Take The Time and To Live Forever was submitted to ATCO Records, which landed them a 7 album deal.

Creation of the album proved rough as the label forced them to keep it short, immediately denying them the use of the 16 minute A Change of Seasons. They were also forced to work with producer David Prater, who notoriously clashed with the band both personally and professionally. Prater infamously used triggered snare and bass drum sounds for Portnoy, leading the drums on the album to sound more like a drum machine, and produced the album in such a way that the heavier songs such as Pull Me Under and Under a Glass Moon did not sound heavy at all. Prater specifically clashed with Portnoy and Petrucci and for some years to come would remain a thorn in the band's side.

Interestingly, the band's most famous song, Pull Me Under, was a last minute addition, replacing the original lead-off track Don't Look Past Me. Also cut from the album was the ballad To Live Forever which ironically was on the demo that landed them the record deal.

The band also worked with an outside musician, Jay Beckenstein, owner of Bear Tracks studios, played saxophone on the song "Another Day"


Compared to the release of When Dream and Day Unite, Images and Words received a great deal of fanfare and promotion, and was a moderate success on its immediate release. The band embarked on a world tour for the first time in their career, touring in North America, Europe and Asia. While touring, the radio single for Pull Me Under blew up on radio, causing album sales to spike and the band's popularity to grow. A single was released for Another Day and videos were shot for Pull Me Under, Another Day and Take The Time. All three songs had some degree of success, though Pull Me Under remains the band's most successful song.


Reception for the album was incredibly good, with many critics seeing it as a definite improvement on their debut, citing better sound quality, more mature writing, more variation and better vocals. Most fans at the time were hearing Dream Theater for the first time, as the first album had a low print run and almost no promotion, so Images and Words became "the first album" for many fans.

Images and Words is not without its detractors, however. Though many consider the album to be a classic, many fault the production, citing Prater's infamous triggered drums and a tone more apt for a band such as Marillion, as the heavier parts don't come across as such. Some also fault Pull Me Under as being a poor example of a Dream Theater song, going so far as to call it an average song that blew up in the mainstream, though many consider it a Dream Theater classic. The album usually ranks either very high or very low for fans, with very little in between.

Tone and lyrics[]

Images and Words is a somber, introspective album, with a sound not unlike that of Marillion and other progressive rock groups. Of the four tenets of Dream Theater's sound (Progressive, metal, melodic and pop) the album focuses mostly on the melodic, with ballads such as Surrounded, Another Day and Wait for Sleep. Pull Me Under and Under a Glass Moon focus more on the metal aspects, though the sound doesn't come through as heavy due to the production. Take The Time is a unique mixture of the progressive and pop sounds with Metropolis and Learning to Live being extremely progressive.

Like the first album, the lyrics do have a strong slant of fantastical or abstract themes, with only "Another Day" and "Take the Time" having a personal theme. Another Day was written by Petrucci about his father being diagnosed with cancer. His father's eventual death led to another song later on in their career, Take Away My Pain. Take The Time is about the band's own experiences, though it comes off as rather abstract. Learning To Live is said to be about AIDS, though the theme in it is also rather abstract. Other abstract themes are in Wait for Sleep, a piece of prose that gave the album its name from its lyrics. Pull Me Under has vaguely Shakespearean themes, Surrounded and Under a Glass Moon have spiritual themes. Metropolis has a historical theme, telling the story of Romulus and Remus, the brothers who founded Rome, though they are referred to in the song as "The Miracle" and "The Sleeper". Petrucci tacked the "Part One" onto the song as a joke, though it led fans to ask for a sequel, which eventually happened in the form of Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory. While there is no title track, the phrase "Images and Words" appears during the song "Wait for Sleep"

Cover Art[]

The cover art is a striking image of a young girl in sleeping clothes, standing before a four-poster bed in a rather fancy looking room. The Majesty Symbol can be seen on the bed's canopy. One striking part of the cover is The Sacred Heart which appears flaming and enclosed in barbed wire. This symbol appeared on several other Dream Theater covers, most notably Live at the Marquee and is considered by many to be the official symbol of Images and Words.

The girl on the cover also appeared in the video for Another Day. The fan club CD Taste the Memories, which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the album, had an updated version, with the girl being in her teens, though it is unknown if it was the same model.

The overall concept of the art is said to be taken from various lyrics within the album, such as Wait for Sleep. This was also a trick that was repeated for the band's next album, Awake, though in a less abstract and more literal sense.


To this day, Images and Words remains a mostly celebrated album. The songs on it are concert favorites, particularly Pull Me Under and Metropolis, the latter of which appeared on five live albums. As the album was the band's breakout, it was the first Dream Theater album many fans heard, and contains a lot of sentimental value for them.

The album went Gold in 1995, and is considered to be their most successful album, though more recent albums have charted higher than Images and Words, as this album debuted moderately and then later blew up due to a radio hit.

The album has been performed live in its entirety several times by the band in 2007 commemorating the 15th anniversary of its release. For its 25th anniversary, the album was again played in its entirety during the Images, Words and Beyond World Tour. For the album's 10th anniversary, a fan club CD, "Taste The Memories", was released with live footage from the band's 1993 tour.

Re-releases and alternate versions[]

Images and Words has never been officially re-released, though the aforementioned Taste the Memories was released as a tribute to the album, and it is possible that one of the 2007 performances may be released as an Official Bootleg. The band's first home video, Images and Words: Live in Tokyo contained all the songs from the album except for Metropolis and Learning to Live, as well as various footage from the tour to support the album, making of footage and the videos for Pull Me Under, Another Day and Take the Time. These three songs were also remixed by Kevin Shirley and re-released on the band's best of compilation Greatest Hit (...and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs).

"She shuts the doors and lights and lays her body on the bed where images and words are running deep. She has too much pride to pull the sheets above her head, so quietly she lays and waits for sleep."