Star Me Kitten

March 28, 2007

“Star Me Kitten” is a deliberately misleading song with an arrangement that suggests gentle romance, and a title that implies sweetness and affection. Michael Stipe sings in his low register, and his words recede into the background except for a few fragments that support the notion that we’re listening to a straight-forward romantic love song. I’m not sure how long it was before I ever realized that it wasn’t — I must have known the tune for at least two or three years before I ever saw the lyrics in print with the sheet music.

“Star Me Kitten” is sung from the perspective of one half of a failed long-term relationship. The lyrics are generally dry and unsentimental, and focused on the material detritus of their broken affair — keys, cars, rings. There’s a moment of nostalgia (“you, me, we used to be on fire”), but not a single note of regret as they negotiate the terms of their separation. Even at the end, when Stipe seems to invite some half-hearted farewell sex, he is cold and aloof, and his use of the affectionate nickname “kitten” takes on a tone of cruel irony and condescension.

18 Responses to “Star Me Kitten”

  1. Jack Fear Says:

    Stipe may sound cruel singing it, but the William S. Burroughs version is just brutal.

  2. tim Says:

    Hey Matthew – congrats on a really interesting idea and something I definitely look forward to enjoying. Maybe when you get to “Find The River” you can help me understand what about that thing has always haunted me.

  3. satisfied75 Says:

    this one is a heartbreaker

  4. anney Says:

    the ws burroughs version is KICKASS!!! it’s all quiet with the looped vocal tracks and then suddenly, you hear this old man practically scream, “KEYS!” it’s great.

  5. ozon Says:

    This one took a long time to grow on me, but I love it now. Understanding the lyrics certainly helped.

  6. Bandwagon03 Says:

    At first i didnt get it, then after i got the WS Burroughs version i appreciated it on a whole new level!


  7. I read somewhere the band regularly referred to this one as Fuck Me Kitten.

  8. Bandwagon03 Says:

    it really IS fuck me kitten, its in the lyrics as “fuck me kitten” just not the song title (instead, listed as: * Me Kitten”

  9. Jerad Says:

    I remember reading that Michael changed the title from “Fuck Me Kitten” after talking to some famous actress (I can’t remember which one!) She told him that when she was growing up she wouldn’t have been able to find a place near her that would sell an album with that word on the cover. So, Michael changed it so that it wouldn’t limit AFTP. He might’ve just used the Rolling Stones’ “Star Star”, aka “Star Fucker” as a template. Has anyone else heard this story?

  10. David Says:

    I think “Star me Kitten” is all about love.About people who like to love in all senses.The pysical side of the relation shows how they both felt inside at that time: they didn´t wanted to share anything more.
    But there is allways a moment of “have we lost our minds?”…
    Great song!🙂

  11. Adam Seddon Says:

    The actress is Meg Ryan. She was visiting the studio in Seattle (whilst filiming Sleepless in Seattle) while AFTP was being recorded. She loved Star Me Kitten but said that her parents would never let her buy an album with a song with ‘Fuck’ in the title. So they went for ‘Star Me Kitten’. Michael has also called it a ‘Frank Booth love song’. David Lynch fans will know what that means. Another Lynch link is that Peter said he was going for a Twin Peaks vibe with the guitar. Of course we’ve said nothing about the 10cc ‘I’m Not in Love’ inspired synthetic background vocal harmonies…

  12. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    This is the one song on AFTP that I have never truly been able to warm up to. For the longest time I simply did not like it and did not get it. Then, years after its release as I wa listening to the CD, some of the lyrics clicked and I could understand what Michael was saying and a lightbulb went off in my head and I got it. However, I still don’t really like it. I can respect it to a certain point as it is certainly original and unique, but it doesn’t really move me in any way and I still find it musically boring. It is my least favorite song on AFTP.

  13. fact checking cuz Says:

    i’ve always been fascinated by the how closely the vocal melody shadows the lead guitar melody, a quite unusual arrangement trick. and i’ve always wondered who was following who: is it stipe following buck’s gtr melody, or buck copying stipe?

  14. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Jared , never entertained the notion about the Star Star reference….intriguing , quite plausible , eh?..one of the working titles from the Dublin sessions is ‘Mr. Richards’, could it be about the geezer himself ? hightly doubtful I guess…..Funny , the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony when KR was at the podium -one could just sense this collective eyes agape astonishment in the attendees ; they were just blown away that not only was he standing up there alive on his own two feet but he was very witty, brain apparently still functioning at a high level…And factcheckingcuz ; that’s how I sound when I try to strum a guitar and sing at the same time (although ‘Im much more sucky)…My point is that it’s always amazed me how the high quality singer songwriter types can strum a melody but sing something else , something that fits together but is not a mirror image of ech other .If I recall correctly that was someone’s main complaint with Reveal and ATS was (although I don’t agree) –the impression that Stipe’s vocal follows too closely the instrumental parlance without taking it anywhere more vibrant. MEOW

  15. Kirsten Says:

    I read an interview with Michael where he said it was a tribute to the song “star star”.

    You are wild
    and I’m in your possession
    Nothing’s free
    So fuck me kitten.

    Creepy, obsessional and moody. This might have been a lead in to Monster.

    Love this one (and the Bside to Everybody Hurts)

  16. diana Says:

    It took me about 5 years of listening to this before I realised ‘Throw in the ring’ could be a wedding ring

  17. adam Says:

    funny how this one is one that holds up the most out of Automatic – so different.. this and Sweetness Follows.. very somber stuff.. but kind of timeless. I love the rest of the record.. and of course nightswimming and find the river are gems… man on the moon will always be kinda fun live – but these are just wierd genius songs.

  18. Monigan Says:

    Adam,

    Crazy…you and I appear to have identical taste in music. Those are the two tracks I would list as my favorites on this album, and the only ones I’ve sought out these 10+ years after its release. I don’t think most fans would agree.

    I too would give nods to the very three runners-up you mentioned.


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