King Of The Road
May 27, 2007
It may be a bit more fair to categorize R.E.M.’s version of Roger Miller‘s “King of the Road” as an improvisation rather than a straight cover. The band seem to only have a passing familiarity with Miller’s 1965 country and western hit — Michael Stipe only sings its first verse and flubs some of the lines, and Mike Mills shouts out the chord changes as they go along. It’s a mess, for sure, but the laid back, tossed off performance allows the listener a rare opportunity to hear R.E.M. goof off in a rehearsal. If only the band allowed themselves to sound so loose and informal more often — Michael’s voice is especially gorgeous on the chorus, and the recording has a lovely, ramshackle charm that suits the no-frills character of the song.