In a 2014 interview with MusicRadar, Satriani described the writing and recording process for Flying in a Blue Dream as "A very stressful time" and that "It was just so difficult and insane, but there was also this enormous amount of creativity. I was so excited that I had fans! [Laughs]." Comprising a varied and eclectic range of styles, the album contains more tracks (18) than any of his other albums; Time Machine (1993) has 28 tracks as a double album.
The title track has endured as one of Satriani's best-known songs and is a mainstay at his concerts, as well as "The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing". "Can't Slow Down", "Strange", "I Believe", "Big Bad Moon", "The Phone Call" and "Ride" feature him singing for the first time; the most on any of his albums to date. It also marks the first time he plays the banjo—"The Feeling" is performed entirely using that instrument—and harmonica, the latter of which features prominently on "Headless", "Big Bad Moon" and "Ride".
"Headless" is a remake of "The Headless Horseman" from Not of This Earth (1986), but with added distorted vocals and harmonica along with a 'squawky' guitar tone making chicken-like sounds. "Day at the Beach (New Rays from an Ancient Sun)" and "The Forgotten (Part One)" are performed using a two-handed tapping technique.
"The Bells of Lal (Part One)" was featured in the 1996 film Sling Blade, during the scene where Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) is sharpening a lawnmower blade to kill the menacing Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakam).
Music videos for the ballad "I Believe" and hard rocker "Big Bad Moon" were included on The Satch Tapes, which was first released on VHS cassette in 1993 and reissued on DVD on November 18, 2003; it also includes excerpts from an MTV performance of "The Feeling". "One Big Rush" was featured in the 1989 film Say Anything...
"Back to Shalla-Bal" refers to Shalla-Bal from the Marvel Comics universe; it is the second reference Satriani has made to the Silver Surfer character, who was first featured on the cover art of Surfing with the Alien (1987). The track was later used as the menu music to the 1996 Sony PlayStation video game Formula 1, which also featured "Summer Song" from The Extremist (1992).