Stumble

March 31, 2007

“Stumble” is the only song on Chronic Town that obviously comes across like a track from a debut EP. This isn’t to say that it is weak or without its charms, but more that it seems like a showcase for the band’s style rather than a fully formed composition. “Stumble” is like passing through a musical fog that just so happens to contain a melody and a beat, and though that may sound like a complaint, it’s not. The song may be the purest example of the band’s original murky, dreamy aesthetic, and so it’s a bit fascinating and overwhelming. Even compared to other songs from the same era, the lyrics of “Stumble” are extremely vague and mostly indecipherable, though they reinforce the hazy, disoriented feeling of the arrangement by implying a drunken late night stroll through a “hipster town.”

13 Responses to “Stumble”

  1. satisfied75 Says:

    love this track. the laughing/horseplay at the beginning make it all that more endearing before the guitar/drums/bass come in.

  2. ozon Says:

    A good song, but about halfway the just kinda start over again and do the exact same thing. If I want to hear it again I’ll hit repeat, thanks. Growing pains I guess.

  3. no2j Says:

    I love STUMBLE. I remember Mike Mills revealing that the chorus lyric is ‘Fallen chant’ a few years ago. One line decyphered, and it’s the one people always thought was “Ball and Chain”…

  4. CHOUT Says:

    You described this song well – one of my favorite early songs…it’s got a good vibe, so why not stretch it out like they did?

  5. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    To me this song always belonged on Murmur as it has that cloudy, jangly, timeless feel that pervades that whole album. As it is it is shamefully overlooked often as it is a great early song. For me one of the definate highlights of Chronic Town. A song the encapsulates the feel and sound of REM’s early days almost perfectly. As for Chronic Town, I have always felt that its songs were divided into two camps: those that sound like what Murmur would eventually sound like and those that were blueprints for Reckoning – with “Stumble”, “Lower, Woves”, and “Box Cars” resembling Murmur and “1,000,000” and “Gardening At Night” being reminiscent of Reckoning in sound and tone.

  6. Clive Says:

    This is definitely one of R.E.M.s murkiest songs for the true fan of their early sound. I find it fascinating yet at the same time it is probably the weakest track on ‘Chronic Town’ from a music critic point of view.
    I do believe the pre-chorus lyrics (in case anyone is wondering) are ‘force fields/explorer racing home/the ancient star/yellow lips with golden hue/scan the graveyard/dead there be’. Before finding this out I had trouble making out any words – it really is a classic example of Stipe making sounds rather than literal words. Throughout the song, each time he sings this part it becomes murkier and murkier and the last time is great!
    Thanks no2j for filling me in on the ‘fallen chant’ lyric – I always believed it was ‘ball and chain’ too. Prefer ‘fallen chant’.

  7. Young Parisians Says:

    This is one of those endless songs that keep going in your head long after it fades out. “Timeless”, to quote above, is a good term it. I’d probably love it even more if it were 20 minutes long. I wouldn’t go so far as to say hypnotizing but its very soothing to listen to over and over.

  8. Kirsten Says:

    That shy laugh at the start is absolutely gorgeous. I could listen to just that for 20 minutes! The music under the “round about midnight hipster town” part is a masterpiece. Where do you come up with ideas like that??
    Brilliant, Brilliant Song.

    Does anyone know if it is “round about midnight” or “drowned about midnight”?

  9. Scott Malobisky Says:

    round about midnight it is , funny I never really thought much about the lyrics from Chronic Town (considering how many times I’ve listened to it)..well , not enough to actually look them up..until now …..I think it’s a very safe statement to say that the actual words of a song are much less important with the very early REM…And seeing the words of this song spelled out on paper is downright bizarre..If I didn’t see the title on top of the page I wouldn’t have known it was this song (!)..And then I took a glance at 1,000,000 and was further floored –I simply can’t believe that’s what he’s singing ! –but when I listen now I hear it……weird…Spot on , Matthew, the comment about the disoriented feeling of the arrangement implying a drunken late night stroll, albeit a not too boisterous strangely mellow one, you know , like not waking the neighbors .

  10. ScottMalobisky Says:

    1234567 all good children go to heaven
    89………….10

  11. Susan Says:

    I could have sworn he was saying, “round about midnight, lipstick time.” I’ve always liked this one a lot, but then, I have a soft spot for pretty much the entirety of Chronic Town.

  12. profligateprofiterole Says:

    Hi Susan.

  13. steve Says:

    I heard a story about “APT”. Athens Party Telephone – where one would call a certain phone number and find out the time and location of various parties going on that coming weekend. I was wondering if this story was true.


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