The Impossible Dream by Luther Vandross: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

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Luther Vandross was a very famous American singer. His sweet chords resonated well with the people and that is how he forwarded in his journey. He started as a background vocalist and was a part of many noteworthy performances – Ben E King, Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins, and more. His talent gained more recognition when he joined the band, Change. As a band, they went on to make great music, even releasing gold-certified albums. Then Vandross took a leap of faith and moved to solo performances. He released many record-breaking songs like Dance with my father, Endless Love, Superstar Baby, and more. He collaborated with the top names in the industry at the time, like Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson. He also covered the highly acclaimed and inspiring song, “The Impossible Dream”

What does the title mean?

The Impossible Dream, in itself, is quite straightforward and simple to understand. The title is a hint for the possible lyrics of the song – centering around an impossible dream. What makes this title great is the relatability of the words. Many people have dreams that are impossible to achieve or so it seems. Many struggles to find the right words to convey their agony of chasing an impossible dream. They feel lost on this quest, and can not even ask for the right motivation. It is all a grey sea of ambition, will, and luck. The impossible dream lyrics meaning is another ode to this quest of dreaming the impossible and also believing in it.

This song is going around the corners for more than half a century. It was originally noted on a Broadway show by the name of Man of La Mancha. It picked up from those theatres and many notable artists have, ever since, covered, altered, and appreciated the song. Many top-performing artists have also included this song in their albums and tours, like Frank Sinatra, Cher, Elvis Presley, and Luther Vandross.

Luther Vandross’s version is sweet and inspiring. With the vibe of a jazz and r&b mix, Vandaross’s version of The Impossible Dream is one of the most loved versions.

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Verse 1 – What does it mean?

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow

And to run where

the brave dare not go

The song starts with an analysis of the word “impossible”. There are comparisons that make a thing – the impossible dream. Like the mention of “unbeatable for” is an ironical stance wherein it is already established that the enemy is more powerful. Such instances are mentioned in the introductory verse wherein the fate is already decided. if something is beyond one’s reach, it is automatically labeled as impossible. Impossible here is a challenge, a brave act to face to challenge. The last line of this verse also hints at a Robert Frost reference – “to run where the brave dare not go”.

Verse 2 – What does it mean?

To right the unrightable wrong

And to love pure and chaste from afar

To try when your arms are too weary

To reach the unreachable star

Verse 2 continues with the explanation of the impossible. There are more ironical phrases like the unrightable wrong. These phrases depict that the impossible is indeed very difficult to achieve. In this verse, there is also an understanding of what the dream might be – to love pure. Such dreams are unachievable and require a certain level of determination to be achieved. In the end of this verse, the goal is also claimed. The goal is to reach the unreachable star. This depicts the dreams that many people have that are beyond their means. There can be many barriers – social, emotional, economic and what not. All these barriers make a dream unachievable. The society is also responsible to make a dream – impossible.

What does the chorus mean?

This is my quest

To follow that star

No matter how hopeless

No matter how far

To fight for the right

In these lines, the singer finally talks openly about his own feeling. He has been talking about a dream that is beyond his reach. But, in the chorus, he talks about his emotions towards the impossible dream. He announces that this dream is his quest. The word quest is quite powerful here. It denotes that this is not any daydream or any random liking of the singer. This particular dream is what gives meaning to the singer.

He is willing to be completely immersed in this dream. He is ready to do whatever to follow this quest. In the following lines, it is also clear that the singer is not delusional. He does not think that he can achieve this unachievable dream without any struggle. He knows that the dream is very far from him and he might have to face his peers or loved ones in the way. He claims that he is willing to follow the dream despite these struggles in between. He is not scared of them, and even if he is, he is willing to move forward. With such a deep realization of the sacrifices needed from the singer, he is moving ahead. The impossible dream lyrics meaning is about this fight to keep on going.

Verse 3 – What does it mean?

Without question or pause

To be willing to march,

march into hell

For that heavenly cause

And I know

If I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart

Will lie peaceful and calm

These lines further indicate the determination that is needed to achieve the impossible dream. There are no questions to be asked or doubts raised in your dreams. One has to simply march forward. Step by step, one has to keep on moving ahead to finally reach what is needed. The singer also calls the dream – “heavenly cause” here. He assigns so much value and worth to his dream.

The following verse explores the situation of when the impossible dream might be achieved. It explores the aftereffects and the benefits of reaching that stage. That place would be peaceful and calming. It would be exactly one feels after reaching a destination after a long tiring walk. Another thing to be noted here is that the singer calls the quest – glorious. He stills believes in his dream, and all the struggle does not dampen his enthusiasm. He is still very much inclined towards the quest for the impossible.

Verse 4 – What does it mean?

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be

better for this

That one man, scorned

and covered with scars,

Still strove with his last

ounce of courage

Continuing with the previous verse, the singer is talking about the world when the impossible dream is achieved. He is talking of the world and what a dream can do to the world. The quest for the impossible dream is an example for the world. An example of achieving the unachievable through determination and courage. This is also a call to inspire others. The impossible dream lyrics meaning – to let there be courage in all beings. To let them be face to face with their own impossible dreams.

What does the outro mean?

To reach the unreachable,

the unreachable,

The unreachable star

And I’ll always dream

The impossible dream

Yes, and I’ll reach

The unreachable star

Finally, in the last paragraph, the singer puts pressure on the words “the unreachable”. The dream is unreachable but that does not mean that it can not be achieved. Through courage and determination, with scars, one can reach the unreachable star. It is possible and the singer is on the same journey.


The impossible dream lyrics meaning is to motivate and encourage others to achieve the unachievable dream. There is always a dream that guides us. Most of us find that dream to be too hard to be true. The song hopes to inspire others to move forward towards that dream. 

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