April 7, 2007

“Texarkana” is the second of two songs on Out Of Time featuring Mike Mills as the primary vocalist, but unlike his perky, assertive take on “Near Wild Heaven,” he seems rather shy and reserved on this cut, giving the impression that the song is simply missing its lead singer, and Mills has been forced to carry the song with a part intended to be part of a harmony. Michael Stipe does turn up for a cameo on the bridge and a bit of help on the final chorus, but the track gains contextual strength from isolating Mills’ thin, earnest voice — he sounds lost and lonely in a song that’s a bit too big to navigate on his own.


17 Responses to “Texarkana”

  1. James Says:

    I’m guessing you know this already, but R.E.M. recorded an alternate “Texarkana” with Stipe lead vocals, and a completely different set of lyrics. Truth be told, the Mills version is better, which is presumably why they used it. It’s not that Stipe’s version is bad, but the lyrics aren’t very exciting and the song doesn’t really move. Like you said, Mills’ undersized delivery gives the song something different that really works.

  2. I didn’t know that. I’m guessing this alternate version is on bootlegs?

  3. James Says:

    Yes. I first heard it on the Outtakes of Time bootleg.

  4. Voltaire Says:

    I think the Mills vocal worked especially well for this track. I think the tune is brilliant, and I quite like it with the vocals taking a back seat.

  5. annie z Says:

    the ‘outtakes of time’ version of ‘texarkana’ is extremely sparse, with rather rudimentary lyrics. stipe mainly sings, ‘when i’m out in texarkana, where’s that county line? / another county line.’ it really underscores the loneliness of the country, and that song.

    i actually think mills’ voice works great on this track. to me it symbolizes rural darkness, loneliness, isolation. the perfect embodiment of the yawning texarkana landscape.

  6. ozon Says:

    I remember the line “I can only see / what’s in front of me / and you’re not there.” from the demo. Very simple but I love it.

  7. Donut Says:

    this is one of those songs i kept on listening to while driving thru Texarkana a great long time ago.

    the early demo of Texarkana is good. Michael said that he just couldnt finish the song, so he gave it to Mike. Mike finished it and thats why he sings the lead vocal on the album version.

  8. griffith Says:

    I still like this song. After hearing Stipe singing lead on the demo, I now know where the title of the song came from. I’d really like to see REM release a 2 disc set of OOT with the original album on 1 disc and the demos on another (hell, even a 3rd disc of all of the B-side releases). Check out ‘Outtakes of Time’ or ‘Time of Outtakes’ some interesting stuff on there. Some of the instrumental tracks ended up being b-sides on singles from ‘Automatic’.

    ps – like your reviews!

  9. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    “Texarkana” is the perfect metaphor for feeling a little lost and out of place, disoriented. What could be more out of place and lost than a city that doesn’t know where it is? Is it in Texas? Arknasas? In either case, I’ve been to the real Texarkana as well, and this song also captures the mood of the city: rural, not really big-time, but sort of big by default as nothing else really is around it. I’ve always though that the production on this song was great because it gives the song a hazy, distant feel, almost like the song and the place exist out of time (no pun intended). My only other final note about it is that for some reason I couldn’t decide if it was Michael or Mike that sang this song for the longest time. I realize that there is some harmonizing and that blurred it for me, but it just doesn’t really sound like either of them to me. (It likely didn’t help that I knew Mike Mills sang “Near Wild Heaven” and I couldn’t imagine at first that Mike would sing 2 songs on an album).

  10. Kirsten Says:

    I always felt that this was a good song that could have been a great song. I was never sure exactly what was missing, but I think maybe it needed to be sung with more conviction. A little more feeling and emotion in Mike’s voice would highly improve this song. Stipe’s version is good – but not better.

  11. Scott Malobisky Says:

    If there was a category –Most Underrated REM songs –this would surely be in it, luscious , layered , evocative , touching me somewhere very deep at the core of my being. Millzy’s singing, both his style of delivery and the volume of his voice, is perfect within the mix and emotional intent of the track , and the lyrics are utterly dreamy ….yeah , that’s it , it’s as if one is not really hearing this song but somehow dreaming it…And that guitar is just too freaking cool !That subtle echo thing like the soundwaves are contained inside a box ,bouncing from wall to wall, feeding the dream machine

  12. Dark Bob Says:

    I’m probably the only person on the planet that did not care for “Out of time”. But I really liked this song. It has that classic “Jangley” Peter Buck guitar sound and I really like Stipe’s vocals at the end of the song.
    Not sure if they ever played this live. Good song.

  13. Gerard Says:

    Always reminded me of the Moody Blues.

  14. […] 23rd, 2007 “Near Wild Heaven” and “Texarkana” offer the audience a glimpse into what R.E.M. might have been if Mike Mills had been the […]

  15. Rob Says:

    I love the ending of this song. Not as good as the ending of Kohoutek, but still great.

  16. Marge Says:

    Luv this song Near wild heaven is my fave and i cudn’t imagine any1 singing it only Mills

  17. Susanna Says:

    I like very much Mike’s version, but I just adore Michael’s…… every time I listen to it, I get goose bumps, specially at the end: the minutes, then hours, then days, then years, then miles, a thousand miles away. Terrific.

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