High Speed Train

July 5, 2007

I only seem to enjoy “High Speed Train” under certain conditions: The weather must be overcast, and maybe a bit too humid. I need to feel a bit bored and lethargic. And this is key: I need to be stuck in a mood that falls halfway between blankness and melancholy. If all of those factors come together, then it feels just right — the sluggish beat, the unashamed neediness, the horrible feeling that Michael Stipe is smothering his love with his sense of romance.  That said, I’m not at all fond of Peter Buck’s faux-Latin guitar solo. It always feels tacked on and icky, like someone touching you in an awkward place on your body out of nowhere.

194 Responses to “High Speed Train”

  1. Ignis Sol Says:

    My favorite line: “I’d wrestle you for a spoon inside your sleeping bag.” Where, inevitabley, some one will touch me in an awkward place on my body.

    I enjoy this song, too. There great imagery throughout these lyrics…

  2. xman Says:

    i like this song a lot actually. one of the more adventurous ones on ats. i love that snare!
    the solo sux though, but bridges are rarely the exceptional parts of most r.e.m. songs.

  3. maclure Says:

    Ditto xman. Q magazine once described R.E.M. as having “an occasionally slippery grasp of the bridge” which about sums it up… again, well put from Matthew.

  4. 2d Says:

    this is a spot-on review and you found a very cool & smart way to express what you mean. although i must say i love this song, and admit it does feel boring if i’m not in the mood. i think it has such a menacing atmosphere and chilling lyrics that it’s obviously linked with an obsessive stalker’s point of view.

    the song is indeed awkwardly sinister, with the tinny guitar sound (that must be what death sounds like when it gets nearer – only decay and coldness), the spacey guitar feedback and the echoed vocals. it has a claustrophobic feel that slowly and quietly collapses into itself towards the end of the song… one of the more adventurous song on the album, like xman said.

    oh, and the train-like drumbeat is a touch of genius!

  5. Scott Malobisky Says:

    I love this song–who says REM is no longer interesting or vital?, shit– though I always get the sensation that the boys are rubbing it in a bit that they travel the world and get paid millions of dollars to so so while staying in the best accomodations and being adored all along the way as the hugely significant artists they are-same thing happens with Disappear with it’s references to these outrageously exotic and seductive cities —and then I turn on The Travel Channel and the beyond perky/cute Samantha Brown proceeds to do the same, although she’s only bringing home multiple thousands…while staying in the most fabulous hotels and getting paid for it.

  6. wolfy Says:

    The songs on ATS mirror 2004 So well. This is one-when you think about it. That election was a slow train to nowhere-or reminiscent of the movie “Runaway Train’. Your call.

  7. Scott Malobisky Says:

    ditto that on that being a great lryric , Ignis, the flailing like an antelope that jumped from a building lyric sends chills up my spine..when you really picture that, you know ?..and that’s how it feels to be in love , like really really in love, the kind that hurts and your’re thinking how can this possibly be a good thing??! , it sucks to be in love, I don’t want to be in love !! …….

    2d, cool ass comment about the tinny guitar sound and death , what did Stipe say one time about the taste of fear , tastes “like aluminum” or something ,in an interview concerning E-bow ?? oh right , that’s the actual lyric but I do recall him saying that he really feels that way, that the emotion of fear -to him –tastes like aluminum

  8. Justin Says:

    “It always feels tacked on and icky, like someone touching you in an awkward place on your body out of nowhere.”

    Fantastic! It’s so true, and in your case well-put.

    The lyrics are mildly interesting, but as a whole the song doesn’t compel me much, regardless of the weather. Or the government. Ha.

  9. Matt Says:

    For me, this is the weakest of the weak tracks on ATS… it just doesn’t go anywhere, and the ‘cry’ ‘try’ ‘fly’ rhyme at the end is by far Stipe’s worst moment.

  10. Elliot H. Says:

    I actually thought the latin-esque solo added a bit of spice to an otherwise boring song on an album full of boring songs.

    I personally think this song sounds a lot like a jaded, overcast “Beat a Drum,” like Michael tried to write a happy, summer song after being dumped or something.

  11. Ignis Sol Says:

    Who would dump Michael Stipe?

  12. Kirsten Says:

    This is probably my least favourite song on ATS. Like a few of you, I do enjoy it when I’m in the right mood. Otherwise, it can feel too slow, the music is relatively uninteresting and there’s not much compassion in the vocals. Michael even sounds bored when he’s singing it.
    However, there are a few great lines (like the spoon in the sleeping bag) that keep it going.

  13. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Kirsten , are we talking about sex or this song ? And Eliot !! , you HAVE been smoking crack..(refer to The Outsiders post)

  14. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Ignis, God might

  15. Ignis Sol Says:

    Is God mad ate Michael Stipe?

  16. Ignis Sol Says:

    I said “ate”

  17. Kirsten Says:

    Both Scott!! And why would God dump Michael??

    I’ve had the song stuck in my head now, and I might have been a little harsh on it.

    I brought you a big bouquet
    I picked it myself today
    It compliments your eyes
    There’s love at the end of the line

    That’s really sweet – especially coming from a male.

  18. Elliot H. Says:

    What? I personally like that song, I think it’s one of the better tracks on ATS (which isn’t saying much).

    I don’t think it was Q Tip’s rap that I hated as much as it was just rap in general. The genre just doesn’t belong in R.E.M.’s music. It’s an Oil and Water scenario, they don’t mix.

  19. Ignis Sol Says:

    Especially coming from a male?
    Ouch, Kirsten, ouch…. 🙂

    I’m goin’ on a date with God tonight.

  20. Kirsten Says:

    Good, could you ask him if he would dump Michael or not?
    I’m curious to know now. Maybe Scott M has some inside information….

  21. Kirsten Says:

    Also, Elliot – that’s what I love about REM – they cover so many genres of music. Whatever mood I’m in, they’ve got a song to suit it. I’m always singing the rap. And I still claim The Outsiders as the best song on ATS.

  22. protimoi86 Says:

    this is one of the creepiest “love” songs ever recorded. if any R.E.M. song could be interpreted as having a sick, acutely stalkerish meaning, this is it.

    that said, i love it (even the guitar solo. i guess i like being touched in awkward places.)

  23. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I love this song! After “Aftermath” this is my 2nd fave from ATS. I can’t think of this song without seeing a mental picture of Michael alone in a crowd of Japanese people in Japan on one of their bullet trains. That sensation of being different and alone, despite being surrounded by many people. It has that feeling of isolation and desperation all through the song.

  24. Scott Says:

    I always read “aluminum tastes like fear” (with “adrenaline pulls us near”) as a reference to overcoming stagefright, the aluminum being the microphone mesh. But I’ll save that for the “E-Bow” discussion. “Wrestle you for a spoon in your sleeping bag” is a pretty awful pun, but that’s what makes the lyric superior–intimacy expressed with a fearless, ridiculous joke (a lead-in to the dejected “Worst Joke Ever”?), obsession expressed with misplaced antelopes leaping and other melodramatic metaphors. The guitar solo at the bridge is indeed an off-the-rack number, perhaps meant to summon a train across Spain but more evocative of the old Antonio Banderas “too sexy!” parody on SNL.

  25. Scott Malobisky Says:

    damn , I’m in way too deep –too much firing racing thoughts off from the hip–the one thing that I need to explain IMMEDIATELY is to Eliot concerning The Outsiders comments….The joke was that -well, you said, “My fondness of the song came crashing at a speed I have never seen or experienced before in my entire life.” in reference to the total distaste of how you felt when the rap part kicked in , so I foolishly said about you not ever smoking crack because you would have felt said horrible crashing before …and then followed up on that because I very much disagree with your High Speed Train thoughts -with all due respect, Sir-as in , “Damn , you must’ve been smoking crack to think that way about this song :)”…; that’s all, sorry about the drama …….I really have no problem with your The Outsiders thoughts at all. You took it the wrong way.

  26. Scott Malobisky Says:

    and the God dumping Stipe thing was just a terrible shot at conservative Christianity –THAT God would dump Michael directly into the lake of fire ….despite what a ray of burning light and inspiration and altruism he has been for all humanity …….Of Course , if one was a mass murderer but accepted JC on one’s deathbed one would be saved..Could this be The Worst Joke Ever ? Sorry , I’ll shut up now (and I mean it this time )…for the rest of tonight 🙂

  27. Kirsten Says:

    LOL Good point Scott M. Goodnight, and If you die before you wake, I pray the Lord – HESITATE! (sorry, i couldn’t resist – I love that line!)

  28. Figgy Says:

    I used to dislike this song too until I heard them play it live on the New Zealand leg of their last tour. Sounded great. It just had a bit more grunt than the ATS recording – harping back to many other posts saying the production has let down the songs on this album.

    Just to respond to Scott’s interpretation of lyrics from “E-Bow”, I remember reading an interview with Stipe at the time of it’s release. He said that when people have an adrenaline rush they sometimes get a metalic taste in the mouth. So in the song I think Stipe is describing a fear so intense that he experiences that sensation.

  29. maclure Says:

    Man, most of the activity on this blog is when I’m sleeping. I’ve just gotten up to find 30 posts that cover taking crack, rap, men and flower, God dumping JMS and everything else in between. Sill, it makes me laugh… I’ve noticed Matthew isn’t replying to our posts so frequently – is he trying to say something?

  30. maclure Says:

    darn it “men and flowers” that is…

  31. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Matthew is kicking back somewhere chomping on a cigar butt and taking another swig of swill wondering , “Well , shall I throw the dogs another juicy piece of meat today?”..that’s what it’s like , you know , he tosses us a bone and we’re on it like a pack of wild boars on a fresh carcass in the African Savanah.

  32. 2d Says:

    wow scott. that’s a very sinister description. 😐 are you sure you’re feeling alright? 😛

  33. Elliot H. Says:

    If you’re still reading this Scott:

    Yeah, that joke flew way above my head right there.

  34. Well I have been a bit busy and/or distracted lately, but I am totally amused by the fact that I seem to have inadvertently created this tiny R.E.M. message board as a by-product of this project. The interesting thing is that there are a lot of other people doing similar projects, and this hasn’t really happened with them.

  35. Ignis Sol Says:

    Matthew, we are attracted to your insightful and thoughtful song reviews for a band we all revere.

    It is not only a testament to your skills and talents but to the universal appeal of R.E.M.

    One could say the R.E.M. fans are unique themselves and this is why a little community has formed.

  36. Scott Malobisky Says:

    I wonder if REM reads this. I wonder if one of you are Michael Stipe. I wonder where you all live. I wonder if there is an end to the end and what began the begin and what came before the begin and will come after the end. I wonder I wonder I wonder.

  37. Scott Malobisky Says:

    I’m fine 2d (just crazy) , are YOU alright ?, you’re the one talking about the tinny guitar sound of approaching death…

  38. 2d Says:

    hmmm touche! i just realised i’m a creep. hey, that’s kinda cool. *feasts on fresh carcass*

    yikes. i’ll stop now.

  39. Kirsten Says:

    I think it’s funny that we’ve run out of REM things to talk about, so we’ll just make Matthew our new obsession. Anyway, you’re in the middle of moving house aren’t you Matthew?

    Ignis – stop being such a suck-up!

    Scott – I’m afraid I agree with you on the “pack of wild dogs” comment. I was actually looking forward to coming to work this morning to see what was new on the site! And I hope REM don’t read this – I’ve said too many stupid things, I’ll never be able to redeem myself!

  40. Scott Malobisky Says:

    check out the photos at HQ

  41. dan Says:

    so guys…hear the new songs yet?

    getting a very lifes rich pageant vibe from a few, with a monster/new adventures feel to some others. i think they could pull off a really good album if they record quickly and avoid overcooking it like the last couple albums.

  42. Figgy Says:

    Yeah, Dan. I’ve heard some of the new songs (on youtube)and I agree that they sound great now but may lose some of their zest if too much time is spent on them in the studio.

    What will happen if they release the new album before this popsongs project is finished? Poor Matthew will have to write up 11 more song reviews.

  43. Kirsten Says:

    Does anyone know when it’s due to be released?

  44. Scott Malobisky Says:

    oh , not for awhile yet ,and so much can happen to a song between now and it’s final official version, an endlessly facinating process when you think about it? Dylan spoke of this in Chronicles….How do you know as an artist when a song is done ? Like quantum theory, just an infinite array of versions with just the smallest little differences between them. And it seems to me that if you were a really successful artist WHO REALLY CARED ABOUT YOUR CRAFT it would be something that could drive you crazy because you would have the resources [time and money and equipment and all the talented right friends] to just keep on exploring and adding and trying this and that ….After a while I guess you just kinda say ok let’s go with it. Lars Ulrich of Metallica also talks of this in Some Kind Of Monster.

  45. Scott Malobisky Says:

    they played West Of The Fields in Dublin , far-out Man

  46. Kirsten Says:

    Do you know what would be great – to hear a bootleg of those Dublin shows in, say 5 years, when the new album is old and we know & love all of the songs and to go back and hear them new and fresh and probably quite different from the versions that we know.

  47. jim jos Says:

    funny you should ask if Michael Stipe and REM reads this blog, because I am, in fact, Michael Stipe. Somedays I am also Jesus, but I am talking medications for this.

    On the Murmurs page, a lot of people are bitching about the new songs. Bitch, bitch, bitch go the REM “fans”
    but it has been the same since fans thought they were losing their touch with Green. (if not LRP).

    I think its such a great idea that they are playing them live before going into the studio. I have always wondered why this is not a common thing. Leave it to REM to answer my questions. So many of the songs on Reveal and ATS sound better in concert, it makes sense that they would do a reverse on the whole process. In any case, I think it speaks volumes that they are attempting to make a great CD this time out.

    I really like a lot of the new stuff, I am really looking forward to the new cd. Though I am afraid if they wait until next spring (as I have heard) to release the final draft that too much is going to be tinkered with and over-produced by then, which is my main problem with the more recent material as a whole.

    But then they are the ones that have sold millions of records and have one of the best canons of any group ever. They are REM, I am just a huge fan. Wait, maybe I am REM….

  48. Paul Alferink Says:

    Warner Brothers will want them to have it finished in time to be released 4th quarter this year.

  49. Kirsten Says:

    OOH! I know what I want for Christmas!!!!!!!!!

  50. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Paul, are you being sarcastic?

  51. Ignis Sol Says:

    >Ignis – stop being such a suck-up!

  52. Ignis Sol Says:


  53. Paul Alferink Says:

    No. Record companies want established acts to release albums before X-mas if at all possible, the theory being “hmmm, I don’t know what to give Dave for X-mas, wait, he kinda likes U2, doesn’t he?”

    Not saying it will happen, I’m just saying if Warner Brothers had their druthers . . .

    U2 ran up against this a few years ago. Record company really wanted the album done by early Dec. Ended up not being ready until Mid-January. So I’m not saying Warner Brothers is going to get their way, only that they’ll push for it, if it’s at all possible. . .

  54. maclure Says:

    New stuff sounds good. Some tracks are quite short – either they are unfinished (i.e. the third verse was not written yet) or its no more “She Just Wants to Be” fiddling for a minute and a half too long. 12 tight, clipped, chunky songs please, REM. “I’m Gonna DJ” looks like it will make it onto the record… not convinced about that one yet.

  55. Theresa Says:

    Ooh, I cannot wait until the new album is released. To be honest, I haven’t been a fan long enough (since early 2004. but I am only 14) to be aware when a new album was coming out. But I’m really excited about this new one.

  56. jim jos Says:

    Welcome to being an REM fan Theresa! Looking forward to your first REM cd that comes out while you’re a fan is a really great thing!

    This is totally off the subject of HST, which isn’t the most interesting subject (good review again Matthew), but with my apologize to Matthew (who wrote a very good review)

    does anyone know why they didn’t play live Earth? They were right in Dublin for Pete’s sake! They could have skipped right over to London, maybe on a high speed train.

  57. Scott Malobisky Says:

    the same reason that Stipe isn’t doing the out front chastising world leaders and confering with heads of state thing like Bono, a difference in style

  58. Scott Malobisky Says:

    or maybe they’re aliens , not of this world …….Enuff speculating on REM’s next album , the question is , “What will Matthew’s next release be like ?” 🙂 ;sucking on gristle here , Man…….

  59. Kirsten Says:

    Theresa, I’m curious – as a new fan, what got you hooked?

  60. Theresa Says:

    In 2004, the “Perfect Square” concert-which was in Germany, by the way- was played on DirecTV for about a month. My Dad had heard of them and told me to watch it. I think I watched it nearly every time it was on, and then we taped it and I’ve watched it a lot since. My Dad bought “In Time” and then we got a few more CDs in the next few months.

  61. Kirsten Says:

    That’s great, that was a good concert. Good on your Dad for getting you addicted!! Anyway, welcome to the “club” and this site. Enjoy going through all the back catalogue, too. The decision on which album to buy next, then getting it home and putting it on straight away. Listening to it, learning from it, disecting it, laughing with it, crying with it and sometimes just dancing to it! I wish I could relive the experience of hearing some of those albums for the first time again. Oh, to be 14 again….

  62. maclure Says:

    I was about 14 when I got into REM. Unfortunately, that was about 14 years ago (and thus I give my age away). Welcome to the wibbly wobbly world of being an REM fan. Welcome to the Occupation.

  63. Theresa Says:

    Thanks, Maclure.

  64. 64 comments…65 now…on High Speed Train. Proof we must be desperate. 🙂

  65. Kirsten Says:

    Only about 15 of those are actually about HST. The rest is just us getting desperate to talk about REM. Help Us Matthew!!

  66. jim jos Says:

    ******tapping my foot*****

    ****twisting my thumbs*****

    ****looks at the clock****

    *****hums “Gardening at Night”*****

    *****looks at the clock****

  67. Figgy Says:

    Well seeing as Matthew’s not forthcoming with any new song review – not a complaint, I know you’re a busy man at the moment – we can probably indulge ourselves on the tangent started by Theresa and Kirsten.

    I got into REM when I was 17. Me and my best mate both had a copy of ‘Document’ and, without knowing any of their other material, decided to catch the band live in Dublin on their Green World Tour. We hadn’t even heard ‘Green’ at this stage (although we’d caught ‘Stand’ a couple of times on the radio and TV).
    Anyway, the gig was brilliant and didn’t disappoint on the ‘Document’ front: ‘Finest Worksong’, ‘Exhuming McCarthy’, ‘Heron House’, etc all getting a play. We were turned on to other songs too, particularly by a slow song that had an emotional refrain of “I’m Sorry”.

    Surprisingly, we didn’t rush out to get ‘Green’ straight away. I suppose it’s because we didn’t have much money. Soon after the gig, we found a ‘Finest Worksong’ single in a bargain bin somewhere. The B-side turned out to have that stripped-down version of ‘So. Central Rain’ from Utrecht. At last we had a name to go with the “I’m Sorry” song we liked so much!

    When I scraped together enough money, I decided to buy the album that featured ‘So. Central Rain’. I was surprised by the “full band” version of the song, but soon grew to love it and the rest of ‘Reckoning’.

    After that, another bargain bin discovery was made: a cassette of ‘LRP’ minus the inlay was going cheap! Yes, we must have spent a lot of time rummaging through bins in those days. But forget about those days… ‘These Days’ was one of the album highlights and also a song we remembered from the gig.

    Then I believe one of us purchased ‘Eponymous’ before ever getting our hands on ‘Green’. I’m quite happy about how we discovered the band, gradually unearthing the older stuff in a random and cash-strapped fashion. Those albums from the 80s are still my favourites.

    “Out of Time” was their first new release for me as a fan that had their entire back catalogue. And maybe I should point out that I’ve paid full price for every album since then. I’d found myself a job so my rummaging days were over.

  68. Kirsten Says:

    It’s just like losing your virginity – you never forget your first time…

  69. Figgy Says:

    Yeah, Kirsten. That involved a bit of rummaging too.

  70. Scott Malobisky Says:

    this has surpassed Stand and now has the most “comments”, although comments might not be a good word …..the nature of this blog has changed –Matthew mentioned it — I’m just wondering if that is typical for blogging (with a comment area) as a blog gets older, a usual thing that happens…..more chit chat between the more regular commentors as they get to know each other ……I almost feel like I am violating some sorta blog protocol or something….Believe it or not I do have a life!!

  71. Scott Malobisky Says:

    speaking of the alien thing , maybe Michael is an alien, he’s got that large head to small body ratio going on…that’s for all you folks in New Mexico, “The Land Of Enchantment”……..

  72. Kirsten Says:

    If you have a life, why are you up at 1.36am writing?

    As for me, I’m happy enough that REM are my entire life, as sad as that is.

  73. Scott Malobisky Says:

    it’s 11 PM here, in San Diego . it’s tomorrow there , right? what time ?

  74. Kirsten Says:

    Its 4.10pm on Tuesday. Nearly time to go home…

    You been drinking tonight?? Michael’s an alien?? We really need Matthew’s help before we all lose our sanity!

  75. Scott Malobisky Says:

    no, ain’t been drinkin’…..Hell , if someone thought I was an alien that would be a compliment , they seem to be a lot smarter than we are and they just might save our sorry human arses yet…

  76. Kirsten Says:

    I suppose it would explain some of the lyrics, and he does seem to be trying to ‘save our sorry humas arses’ but I am in the “Michael Stipe is Gorgeous” club, so I couldn’t say he looks like an alien.

  77. maclure Says:

    Seriously, I’m in Brazil (9.30am Tuesday as I write this) and when I get up I find another dozen comments about… Michael being an alien? Lordy, Matthew, write something and fast.

  78. Paul Alferink Says:

    I remember liking “Stand” a lot when it came out, but I wasn’t really into music much at that point, around 11 or 12. I knew the band was called REM, but other then that, I knew nothing. I saw one guy when I started 7th grade wearing a REM shirt with the names of the Band members. Now, I was confused. I had seen the video, which had 3 girls and a guy in it. I had assumed they where the band. Note, I was a dumb kid.
    So losing my religon hits as I’m starting to get into music. My sister tapes her friends copy for me, as well as a bootleg collection of live, Out of Time and Green stuff. I listen to it non-stop. Automatic comes out, and I buy it as part of my first CD club deal, along with about 20 other CD’s that are pretty much the first in my Crazy CD collection. My friend Buys Document and Green. I now find out that these are the guys who did that “One I love” song I liked when I was 8. I buy the rest, one buy one, until I’m sixteen, and I finally have all my own copies on CD, except Dead Letter, which I bought off a friend (long story)on tape. Replace that with a CD when I see Chronic Town’s on it. Then it’s the Singles. Then it’s rebuying all the IRS albums with the extra B-sides. After graduation (1995) I start buying Boots. I buy the Green Singles in a box set on 45, even though I don’t own a record player.
    It’s a sickness.

  79. Theresa Says:

    Before I saw the “Perfect Square” concert on TV, I think we had already had “Out of Time” on CD for several years. All I remember about listening to it was that I liked “Low” (Which my Mom said sounded like the Doors, I didn’t know who they were either at the time) and that I was trying to figure out what Michael Stipe was saying in “Losing My Religion.” I realized later that that song was probably one of his clearest vocals.

  80. Theresa Says:

    Yeah, I made it 80 comments! Well, 81 now.

  81. Scott Malobisky Says:

    anybody ever listen to Coast To Coast AM ? lot of speculation that “disclosure” is imminent, that the US government may be getting ready–ARE WE READY?–to come clean on extraterrestial visitation , incidents and cover-ups going back for years…It’s hard to break the perpetuation of a lie especially when so many people aren’t ready for it, their fragile institutions crumbling before their eyes in the light of the truth.

  82. Scott Malobisky Says:

    maybe Matthew’s not well, maybe something has happened to him –think about it, how would we ever know ? that would suck so bad !!!……Bad Religion has a new record out, called New Maps Of Hell.

  83. Bruno Says:

    Well I’ll throw in my two cents to this Monster! post – Is it still alive? – I was away for a few days.

    I think I’m a bit older than some here. For me it was around Reckoning that I first got the bug as a young teenager. The thing that struck me reading some of the above is that to me the early REM period would be the best time of their career to discover them. I realize some of you might say ‘Shut up old guy – when you first become a fan of something, the era it’s going through doesn’t matter’.

    Still REM’s best qualities really leant themselves to that time – before videos had hit (well there were early promo clips etc, but the modern music video industry hadn’t fully arrived yet) and before mass poularity. When REM did do an early video, they intentionally put themselves in the background and avoided any obvious appearance (Fall On Me for example). I went a long time not really knowing what they looked like, what they thought, how they presented themselves etc. Just murky, mystical music and hard-to-decipher lyrics (and better for it – it meant we were left to create the words and meanings ourselves only with snatches of Michael’s lyrics figured out – that just added to the experience). The band hadn’t progressed to knowing their ‘formula’ yet, or their eventual wild popularity – it was just snaking, dark sounds and was all the more magic for it. It meant you were left to discover it using your imagination.

    I think if I was 15 and getting into REM when their singles and videos and interviews and all had hit the mainstream, like when ‘Losing My Religion’ was everywhere or ‘Stand’ or say ‘Bang and Blame’ and they had lost (to me) a lot of their mystique, it wouldn’t have felt like such a magical experience.

    This is what I think about hearing that music in the early 80’s (compared to discovering them later, when, to me, some of the magic had worn off).

    But hell, I may be an alien too, and just talking out of my alien butt! I guess more to the point is that a new REM fan at any time is definitely onto something and I (virtually) shake his or her hand.

  84. maclure Says:

    “Shut up old guy”!!!! (joke). I am envious of those who were fans of REM in the IRS years (including older cousins of mine). I do think I missed something of the energy and mystery of the band who were working hard to make a living at that time… As I think I’ve said somewhere else on this blog I wish, I wish, I wish I could’ve been around for Lifes Rich Pageant – what a time that must have been! And then to watch their star rise through Document/Green.

    But, when I listened to OUt of Time on a copied tape without lyrics or even track listings I really think some of that mystery remained for me. I didn’t know what a good pop song was back then but I was taken to places with the strange music (I remember “Belong” creeping me out) and it stuck… discovering the early years afterwards was still a real bonus!

    I really fell in the deep end of REM fandom in the build up to the release of Monster and subsequent tour. REM were probably as big as they would ever be. They had kept a low profile despite being quite big and people at school knew of the band, but nothing about them. And then “Kenneth” started playing on MTV and I remember some of my pals didn’t discover until the first chorus that JMS was bald! I was very pleased with myself for having known that already. I get such a buzz from AFTP and even more so Monster because of the memories associated with the songs. Surely, that’s the way it is with most people – and I get the impression others on this blog. The timeless songs of REM take us back to exciting times, whenever that was for each of us.

    A long post, but what the hey.

  85. maclure Says:

    ps. I was techiniclly “around” at the time of Lifes Rich Pageant. However, my listening tastes extended as far Psalty the singing Songbook.

  86. David T. Says:

    > However, my listening tastes extended as far Psalty the singing Songbook.

    Ha! I had that record, too!

    ps: In Matthew’s absence, I’ve enjoyed reading the long posts…thanks, y’all.

  87. Bruno Says:

    Yeah I too kind of lost myself in an obsession with Psalty that if I’m honest I’m still trying to shake now.

    Of course it’s true, it comes down to each person’s own connection with the music as they discover something that excites them or moves them or just makes them jump around like a nut. And later it’s the feelings that they had at the time and the associations with the events that they went through in their own lives that really bring the depth of meaning and importance to that connection. Of course it has nothing to do with relative age or band era. As they say, music and taste is a very personal thing. (Phew!)

    I guess I was just saying I loved that stuff. Like you mentioned Maclure, for me and many others hearing and getting to know LRP was a great experience – problably a lot like Monster for you.

    Oh, and obviously Psalty for most all of us here of course!

  88. Ignis Sol Says:

    >The timeless songs of REM take us back to exciting times, whenever that was for each of us.

  89. Ignis Sol Says:

    Part of my post was cut off..

    >The timeless songs of REM take us back to exciting times, whenever that was for each of us.

  90. Figgy Says:

    Nice to hear the different ways people first got into REM. What I feel everyone’s story has in common is that, irrespective of what the current album was, the discovery of REM’s music went hand in hand with other awakenings in their lives, and probably coincided with teenage years.

    Another thing that my discovery of REM lead to was a passion for seeking out good music (past and present) and to look beyond the mainstream. Soon I was listening to The Velvet Underground, The Pixies, Television, The Smiths, Jane’s Addiction, Stone Roses, Dinsoaur Jr… too many to name. I also really got into going to gigs by “small” locals bands in my home town. Many were uninspring but some were so good I still count them amongst my all-time favourite acts (even though they never made it to the “big time”). A band doesn’t have to sell millions or be famous to be good.

    Thanks to being switched on to music by REM, I also took up playing the bass and had some good years playing in bands of my own. Never got close to giving up my day job, unfortunately, but it was very enjoyable! 🙂

    I suppose I’m saying that my interest in REM lead to a very fulfilling passion for music in general, something I’m sure I will always have.

  91. dan Says:

    i think i covered this in another post, but i got into r.e.m. via “stand,” but that was in 1996. i was 14, and NAIHF had just come out. i knew my dad owned a bunch of their CDs, so i asked him about them and he gave me a cassette with Green on one side and Out of Time on the other. oddly, i don’t remember my first listens to the albums. they clicked rather fast, if i recall, and i ended up borrowing most of of the other albums from him and giving them back one by one as i bought my own copies. took me a while to get into the pre-LRP albums (but Document was my favorite for a long time) but now i consider the IRS years a damn near perfect body of work, an incredible run.

    r.e.m. became my first favorite band. i still remember when a friend of mine told me during class that bill berry quit. i was like “no he didn’t!” i bought Up the day it came out. Reveal too, i think. i didn’t buy Around the Sun (and wasn’t planning on it) but i got it as a gift.

  92. Kirsten Says:

    Dan, after such a positive experience with the other CDs, why were you not going to buy ATS?

  93. Figgy Says:

    Nice to see you’ve started work for another day, Kirsen. 🙂 How did you first get into REM?

  94. Kirsten Says:

    My brothers & sister were watching music videos on TV and I walked into the room and it was on. Simple as that – I heard it, I fell in love with it. I was already a huge fan of David Essex’s Rock On, so I just started singing along with it even though I’d never heard it before. It just blew me away. So I was instantly hooked, but I had a rule – I had to like 3 songs off an album of a “new” band before I’d buy it. I was only 13 and the $20 for a tape was hard to come by. So I waited. Then I saw the clip to Man On The Moon. Now this band wasn’t only great, but they were cute too! (important at that age). Whilst arguing with my Mum one day in my room, Everybody Hurts came on the radio – 3 for 3 I bought the tape the next day. And I played it over & over & over. I spent hours in my room just listening to it, discovering something new each time. I use to watch the tape reals spinning around just mesmorized by the whole experience. That Christmas I got “The Best Of” tape and opted out of our traditional game of cricket to listen to it. First song was Carnival of Sorts. So different from ATS – so different from anything I’d ever heard! From there I just went through all the old albums 1 by 1 being completely blown away every time. The obsession began and 15 years later continues…..

    Sorry to bable, words can’t express the love and importance REM have had on my entire life. And, for the record, Drive can be experienced on so many levels with all of it’s layers, I can still get something new out of it each time I hear it.

    Shit, I’d better do some work now before I get fired!

  95. dan Says:

    Kirsten — Up was the most exciting one, for me. This was before albums leaked to the internet months in advance, and it was the first new R.E.M. album to come out since I became a fan. I saw them do some songs on Letterman before it came out, and I knew “Daysleeper” from the radio. I was very excited, and Up delivered. I still love it.

    Reveal was a bit different. When Up came out, my musical world was pretty narrow, and it had expanded a lot in ’99 and 2000 with my discovery of bands like Pavement, Modest Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel, Belle & Sebastian, The Mountain Goats, etc., all of which I was reaching levels of fandom that only R.E.M. had occupied before. My R.E.M. listening hit a low ebb, and going off to college introduced me to a whole new world of new music and new friends. I bought Reveal out of duty, basically, but there wasn’t much anticipation beforehand, nor was there anything on the disc that really thrilled me — there were about four songs on it that I loved, and the rest ranged from not bad to not very good whatsoever. That sorta killed my enthusiasm for new R.E.M. music.

    Around the Sun was my last year of college. I downloaded a radio rip of “Leaving New York,” (wasn’t too keen on it) and for the first time ever I downloaded the whole album before it was released. I put it on in the background and probably heard it a few times in the next couple of weeks, enough to absorb a song here and there, but ultimately it didn’t thrill me very much. Didn’t have many funds, and though I knew I’d probably buy it eventually, I was content to wait and possibly find it used.

    I’ll definitely be buying the next one, though. The excitement is, in a small way, back.

  96. Wow this thread is getting insane!

    If you’re wondering, I’m hoping to get this back on a daily schedule starting next week. I’ve been dealing with a lot of issues relating to my recent change of address, plus work, plus general writer’s block, plus getting ready for a trip at the end of this week.

  97. maclure Says:

    Yeah, my REM fanatacism has dipped in recent years but is very much back on thanks to this blog+the prospect of a return to roots new album… I like the way people have gotten into REM at different points for different reasons. Their appeal seems very broad.

  98. transformerdog Says:

    What did they do to Matthew and will he bleed ’til Sunday night?
    Is Stipe a Reptilian having crossed his DNA with something reptile?
    Me? I’m looking like an idiot and I no longer care.

  99. Is High Speed Train, out of ALL songs, going to be the first entry to break 100 comments? How exciting and hilarious.

  100. 2d Says:

    most likely! i wonder who’s going to write post no. 100?!?

  101. 2d Says:

    oh ok. i will. and THIS is it! 😀

    *smug* 😛

  102. transformerdog Says:

    transformerdog is Scott Malobisky, very very odd what happened yesterday…This posting wouldn’t accept my comments so after trying and trying I dedided to change my name as a test and it worked –BUT—it was like on hold ; I went to bed last night with my silliness posted there in the square like it would be under normal circumstances –as if it was accepted–but after my name it said, “Your comment is in moderation.”…HOW BIZARRE !!..Woke up this morning and took a look after taking a leak and a gander and sure enough apparently it cleared the censors…What is going on here ? Any computer geeks out there ? (Ignis , you might try changing your name.. I get the impression you were having a problem with your last entry.) I guess from now on Scott Malobisky will be known as transformerdog. Chow.

  103. transformerdog Says:

    Kirsten, you’re fired.

  104. Kirsten Says:

    Leaving Scott M, never easy. He saw the light fading out…

    If I get fired, do you think they would still let me come in and talk to you?

  105. Ignis Sol Says:

    Yeah, transformerdog I was having problems…..IN MY LIFE UNTIL I FOUND R.E.M!

  106. Ignis Sol Says:


  107. Kirsten Says:


  108. Ignis Sol Says:



  109. Kirsten Says:

    REM – Religion or Cult??

  110. Ignis Sol Says:

    hmmm, good question, Kirsten. We all know what Bono thinks he is! Ouch! sorry, Bono!

  111. transformerdog Says:

    Ignis , I meant as in “you were having a problem with your posting ” ,not as in “having a problem with your life “, you said part of your post “was cut off”…back there…… Are you a gay atheist ?

    Kirsten , you have no computer at home?..oh well , I probably shouldn’t be chit-chatting on here.Later 🙂

  112. Theresa Says:

    Definitely religion, Kirsten.

  113. Kirsten Says:

    I have no internet. 😦
    If I did, I’d have absolutely no life at all! Think of all the REM websites, photos, songs and interviews I could download, not to mention all the time spent on this blog!

  114. Kirsten Says:

    Theresa, Interesting that you chose religion. Now I’ve had more time to think about it, I’m not quite sure what the difference is…..

    Maybe obsession is another option??

  115. Theresa Says:

    Yeah, I’d definitely put obsession as an option. I get obsessed about things sometimes. Luckily, I’m not obsessed about R.E.M., I just really like them. (There is a difference)

    Um…I’m not sure what the difference between a religion and a cult is. I guess they’re the same except that religions are more mainstream and the people in them are accepted more. People seem to frown on cults, even if they aren’t that different from popular religions.

  116. Kirsten Says:

    I’ve thought of another one – addiction!

    (Sorry, not much happening at work today)

  117. dan Says:

    Theresa, you’re totally right about the differences (or lack thereof) between religion and cult.

  118. Paul Alferink Says:

    Yep. Difference between a cult and religion is definitely a PR guy. Which is why the scientology people try so hard. Some religions have to try harder then others.

  119. transformerdog Says:

    I don’t get it, “we all know what Bono thinks he is”…

  120. Ignis Sol Says:

    transformerdog, oh yeah, um my posting 😉 My life is just SWELL….. 🙂
    Yeah,indeed I was having problems with my posting. I thought I’d spice things up and say I had problems with my life (I used to – as we all do at times).
    as for GayAtheist, well, I have to let some things remain a mystery (it’s a mystery to me, too).
    I guess my attempts at being silly are not working. Well, I’m not king of comedy.
    I should get back to work……….

  121. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Since this post is going on forever, I just thought I’d start a new little topic. Anyone who is interested why don’t you tell us about a band that we may not be aware of that you think fans of REM might like. My personal suggestion is The Tragically Hip. Canadian band that musically lies somewhere between REM and Pearl Jam and lyrically is very literate and obscure. The music will pull you in and the lyrics will keep you coming back so you can figure out what the hell he is saying and what it means (very much like the experience of listening to Michael in the 80’s). The Tragically Hip are HUGE stars in their native Canada so some of you may know them (they’ve had a few small US hits) but they have 10 or 12 albums now so if you like them you have lots of new stuff to dig through. Start with their “Yer Favourites” CD. Its a two disc “Best of” where they lest their fans choose what songs to include via the internet. It is awesome!

  122. siskelheartebert Says:

    I think the Live song “Lightning Crashes” always sounded like an REM song. I think if I could kidnap them and make them perform, I make them preform that song, simply becauce I bet they would do it better.

    As for bands I like that maybe flying a little under the radar, at least in the US:

    Mates of State
    Tori Amos, especially her early Stuff
    Modest Mouse
    Does Radiohead count? They never seemed as popular here as I though was warrented.
    Pete Yorn
    The Dismemberment Plan
    The Shins
    and Gwen Stefani

    I was just joking about Gwen Stefani, although I think anyone who can get a song on the radio that has the lyrics “This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S” deserves to be marveled at, similar perhaps to
    Baby, instant soup doesn’t really grab me
    Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
    A can of beans or blackeyed peas, some Nescafe and ice
    A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss”
    as a remarkably silly lyric.

  123. dan Says:

    I dig the Hip’s singles. I’m not Canadian, but I would listen to Canadian radio across Lake Erie during my high school years. Good stuff.

    I recommend The Mountain Goats. I’m sure some of you are familiar with them, but if not there’s plenty of info out there. Dig in, it’s all good.

    Slightly more obscure is my favorite recent discovery, the Capstan Shafts: http://www.myspace.com/capstanshafts

    Great lyrics and insanely great melodies.

  124. So far High Speed Train has gotten 103 more comments than Talk About the Passion. I want to cry. I want all of us to cry.

  125. David T. Says:

    My $.02…

    I love a local (Memphis, TN) group called The Central Standards, who are musically of a vibe not unlike that of IRS-era REM:


  126. Ignis Sol Says:

    I was picking up my Cobb salad at Quiznos (it is still lunchtime in Seattle) and they jammed “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on their system. It was still playing when I left. No one else seemed as entertained as I was. I was drumming, humming and singing key lines. Being downtown Seattle, no one really noticed me. Sadly, this is happens a lot.

    I once heard a Muzak (sp?) version of “Shiny Happy People” in a supermarket in Michigan (where I am from)back in the 90’s.

    GameWorks often blairs songs like “Bang and Blame,” “Radio Song,” and even “So. Central Rain” among others when I walk past them.

    Many restaurants and clubs in my neighborhood play tunes like “Superman,” “The One I Love” and “Orange Crush” through their speakers to the delight of their patrons and the people walking on the sidewalks.

    Anyhow, back to my salad…..

  127. transformerdog Says:

    BWD , I’ve heard of The Tragically Hip..gonna plug ’em into Rhapsody here and see what comes up..You live in Utah , right? ..I think I recall from an earlier posting..

  128. transformerdog Says:

    yeah , but Ignis , were you doing the bending way backwards slapping your hip while chewing your gum head on a swivel and forward again “fine” bending way backwards slapping your hip while chewing your gum head on a swivel and forward again “fine” thing…”fine”……(now that would have gotten you noticed).. Or perhaps you are not limber enough for such moves ?) Rubberband ,oh , Rubberband Man.

  129. transformerdog Says:

    BWD, WOW , it’s all here, everything by the Tragically Hip..Interestingly –and this might suprise you—their contemporaries are listed as , Dada and Barenaked Ladies, their influences as Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, and Steve Earle, their followers as Guster , primary genre as “roots.

  130. Figgy Says:

    Wow! The Tragically Hip. In the early 90s, a friend of mine spent a summer in Canada and she came home raving about them. Some weeks later, I spotted one of their albums in a record shop and decided I’d buy it for her as a surprise present.

    The album was called “Road Apples”. I took it home, listened to it and because I enjoyed it so much I never got round to giving it to her. 🙂 It’s still one of my favourite albums to this day.

    I agree with Beethoven above. What I like about “Road Apples” is that it has an REM-like sound (in my opinion, the mid to late 1980s period of REM). So too does “Fully Completely”, another Tragically Hip album I bought soon after and would also recommend.

  131. Figgy Says:

    And this morning, before I had even read this new thread about “other bands”, I thought of another cult favourite of mine for some reason. And they have an REM connection. Is anyone familiar with the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies?

    I think Michael Stipe produced their first album “White Dirt”. It’s rocking hillbilly fun, not at all like REM except for the sillier moments of “Dead Letter Office”. I love it.

  132. Ignis Sol Says:

    no, transformerdog, I was doing the “bending way backwards slapping MY ASS while chewing my gum head on a swivel and forward again “fine” Fine! And I am pretty limber.

    I saw a band a few months ago at a club (At the Crocodile – which Peter Buck’s wife currently or formerly owns). There were British and had this swoozy, psy type sound. They rocked and they made me feel like volcanic youth. And they looked hot in tight t-shirts and jeans. I will remember the band’s name later. It was quite a nutty night….with me being sooo limber and all ;p

  133. Kirsten Says:

    I thought I was the only person who did that when It’s The End Of The World was on! But you forgot the nodding of the head on the word “fine”.
    Nice to see I’m not the only freak in the world….

  134. transformerdog Says:

    Hi Kirsten ! Hi koala bears and kangaroos.

  135. Kirsten Says:

    What you up to tonight, transformerdog?

  136. transformerdog Says:

    not much, just listening to Coast To Coast AM , scaring the shit outta me, talking about USA vs. Iran in a war and a possible imminent nuclear terrorist attack here and stuff…..and WHAT”S REALLY GOING ON……supposedly..

  137. Kirsten Says:

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the truth. Just remember a wise man once said:

    The papers are terrified to report anything that isn’t handed on a presidential spoon.

  138. Paul Alferink Says:

    I love when they used to play It’s the end of the world at parties and everyone would sing “nanananananana,nananananananana, LEONARD BERNSTIEN! nanana,nanana. . .”

  139. transformerdog Says:

    and this High Speed Train has come to a decidedly screeching halt–isn’t it funny how we’ll always associate this song from now on with the quagmire that is this post?

  140. dan Says:

    Well, I certainly don’t have anything like a melody to associate with this song, so…

    OH BURN!

  141. David T. Says:

    (I just realized that I never actually made a comment about the SONG in question here!)

    Frankly, I like it: interesting chord progression, cool train/percussion sound (sort of like a slowed down version of a similar drum part on U2’s “Zoo Station”)… plus I just take some sort of perverse pleasure in the fact that the song HIGH SPEED Train is a fairly slow number…

    Waiting for comment #143 now…

  142. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Transformerdog, you have a good memory, I do live in Utah – do you ask for any particular reason? Also, another band I love and recommend (although they really have no sonic connection to REM in any way) is Interpol.

  143. transformerdog Says:

    no , not really BWD , just always intrigued by the anonymity of the Internet……..One of you guys could be right down the street from me and I wouldn’t even know it.

  144. Paul Alferink Says:

    Let’s think of phrases that rhyme with High Speed Train . . .

    Try Peed Rain?

    Bye, Steve Bane?

    Nigh, Heed Pain?

  145. transformerdog Says:

    All the children are insane
    Waiting for the gentle rain

  146. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Die Weed Brain!
    Cry Tree Pain
    Thai Bead Frame

    Ya know, this is kind of stupid, yet I am doing it!

    Just read a news article about Indiana Jones 4 – to come out May 22, 2008. Crazy, I hope it is good. I’d heard rumors for years but I guess its really gonna happen, they have already filmed 5 weeks: 1 in New Mexico, 1 in Connecticut, and 3 in Hawaii. It’s been 18 years since the last one so they are setting this one in the 50’s instead of the 30’s to make up for the time difference.

  147. maclure Says:

    Hello chaps, back in ol’ Blightey after a 2day series of budget flights from Brazil. I may be contributing from the internet cafes of the airports of the world in the next few days. What are we talking about?

  148. transformerdog Says:

    Hey maclure , congrats on your country landing one of the designated new seven wonders of the world, the JC statue on top of the hill there in Rio…..Blightey ? England?

    Where you at , Mr. Michael Black Phd.. “backlit” ,you are killing me……..

  149. transformerdog Says:

    insane in the membrane
    insane in the brain
    insane in the membrane
    insane in the brain

  150. Theresa Says:

    I think we’re all going crazy waiting for the next post by Matthew. How much longer can be hold on to our sanity? (I think that transformerdog has already lost it)

  151. transformerdog Says:

    The question is what would be an appropriarte song for Matthew to throw at us considering the circumstances ? And in a way, it’s like a microcosm of being a pop star for him —I stress in a way–his fans anxiously await his next release…..He’s thinking what if I give it away ? Oh wait he already does that , but when ?? well, to be fair , he did say early next week. Anway , what would be the the appropriate next song considering his hiatus from the game. ??? Turn You Inside Out , Begin The Begin Part 2 ?

  152. transformerdog Says:

    or maybe Toys In The Attic
    since he’s toying with us

  153. Bruno Says:

    Voice Of Harold – gotta be!

  154. Bruno Says:

    ‘While the cats away…”

  155. dan Says:

    Sometimes I think “Tricycle” is my favorite R.E.M. song.

  156. maclure Says:

    Ol Blightey is England btw but I do live in Brazil. Next song: Shiny Happy People – ie us when we have a new song to read about.

  157. Bruno Says:

    That little bit before Rockville is the next one – “Come on, you got it… in the mood… well alright”

  158. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    How about “Imitation Of Life” since none of us (including myself) seem to have one, as we are here every day waiting for Matthew’s next post, filled with anticipation like a 16 year old virgin who is about to score with a hot chick who he thought was way out of his league. 🙂 :0

  159. Bruno Says:

    Ouch, what’re you trying to do? Kill the Monster thread?

    And there’s nothing wrong with 16 year old virgins!

    BTW, next song’ll be ‘Second Guessing’ 🙂

  160. jim jos Says:

    I think the next song should be “sitting still”, much like the board itself.

    Last count comments on High Speed Train 160
    comments on Radio Free Europe 7.

    I will always associate HST with this blog and all of you “people”.

    God is a concept, by which we measure our pain.
    I’ll say it again…

  161. transformerdog Says:


  162. transformerdog Says:

    oh wait , of course , ‘The Apologist’ ,Matthew singing, “I’m
    sorry , so sorry” or ‘The Worst Joke Ever’ ,toying with us like that ….making us wait, not funny …..

  163. transformerdog Says:


  164. transformerdog Says:

    The Great Beyond
    the song that is beyond this great void in our lives
    I guess he already did Ignoreland….

  165. transformerdog Says:


  166. Paul Alferink Says:

    I hate “the Worst Joke ever”. I didn’t listen to that entire album for three months after I heard that song for the first time.

  167. Paul Alferink Says:


    FYI “Sponge” by REM is also on The Single for “How the West was Won,” Which might be a better buy the the Sweet Relief II album, since it also has the studio version of “Love is all Around” from the “I Shot Andy Warhol” Soundtrack. And a different version of Be Mine.

    I finally got around to loading my REM B-Side back on my computer after an unfortunate crash last year.

  168. Tim Says:

    Going off topic of the current off topic topic, I’ve been listening to the torrents of the Dublin shows.

    How great is is that they played so many cool old songs live again? All of Chronic Town except Stumble, West of the Fields, Second Guessing, Kohoutek, Harborcoat, Little America, Feeling Gravity’s Pull, Romance, Circus Envy, New Test Leper! I never thought we would hear many of those again live. They sounded so good along with the new stuff. I haven’t been this excited about REM in a long long time.

    BTW, it was Shiny Happy People that first introduced me to REM. I heard it on the radio when I was like 10, bought the cassette single, and went from there. I remember Automatic came out when I was in 6th/7th grade and it was cool to like REM and everyone that was “cool” in Jr. High had the album. It was really AFTP that made me love REM, and realize the greatness. I’ve bought every new album since then through ATS the day they were released. I actually didn’t get much into REM pre-Document until the last year or so. I can’t believe what I was missing. It’s been fun to discover many of the IRS songs as Matthew has talked about them on this blog.

    Anyways enough from me…how high will the comments go? 200…300? This is probably the most attention High Speed Train will ever get.

  169. maclure Says:

    I shall be taking a Slow Speed Bus today… Interesting mini-interview with REM in ‘Uncut’ magazine. Michael says he was dismayed by the reaction to ATS! No major additional clues on the new record except Mills says it will ‘rock’. There’s an interesting piece by Patti Smith there where she talks of JMS influence in her life after the time her husband died. I didn’t realise JMS was as close to Patti Smith back then in the early 90s.

    Just rambling, off I go.

  170. dan Says:

    Recommendations again. This band Windmill is impossibly good. Their myspace lists R.E.M. as an influence, but their music is not all that similar (superficially)– it’s piano based with many orchestral elements and HUGE drums. Very melodic and wonderful, but probably not your cup of tea if you don’t like high pitched male vocals ala Daniel Johnston, Wayne Coyne, etc.

    Their debut album is called Puddle City Racing Lights, and I’m not even sure if it’s out yet, but it’s clearly one of the best of the year.

  171. Hey guys. A good friend of mine is Matthew’s uncle and he said Matthew’s ditching this blog in favor of a Tom Petty song-by-song project. Hope this helps!

  172. Tim Says:

    Are you serious? Too bad if it’s true. I’ve had fun following this blog, and gained a lot of insight into REM from it.

  173. Paul Alferink Says:

    This thread is like the SNL sketch were Will Farrell is the morning show host and the teleprompter stops working. . .

  174. Kirsten Says:

    Hey, thanks Paul. Will work on tracking down a copy.

    FYI, I like Tom Petty.

  175. jim jos Says:

    from a review of the new Tom Petty site:

    In the song “Refugee” Tom clearly says that you, in fact, do not have to live like one.

    great blog.

  176. Paul Alferink Says:

    Tom Petty was a modern day sage.

    “The waiting is the hardest part”

    How true that is.

  177. Mr Cup Says:

    Tom uses Rickenbackers…Buck uses Rickenbackers…coincidence?
    Maybe Matthew should just cut straight to a Smiths blog?

  178. Kirsten Says:

    I am the son and heir of nothing in particular….

  179. Paul Alferink Says:

    It’s good to be king.

  180. Paul Alferink Says:

    Hey, just like the song, this thread goes on too long!

    As a side effect, it’s getting me to listen to ATS again. Worst joke ever still makes me want to fall on my own knife, but Ascent of Man is growing on me.

  181. Kirsten Says:

    I think Worst Joke Ever is really great.
    This has prompted me to listen to High Speed Train again, and the solo really isn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be…

  182. Tim Says:

    Actually after hearing Michael’s explanation of the meaning behind Worst Joke Ever during the Dublin shows, and then hearing it live, it kind of made me like it…just a little bit.

    But I guess we can save that discussion for the Worst Joke Ever comments, which are sure to go even longer than High Speed Train.

  183. Kirsten Says:

    Could you tell me what he said? I might forget to ask by the time that one comes around.

  184. Tim Says:

    He started out by saying “The Worst Joke Ever” is one of his top 5 favorite REM songs and its also one of the hardest songs they’ve ever written to perform live, which is why they’ve only played it live a couple of times.

    He then says that He and Peter are both terrible at telling jokes. Michael says he has no comedic timing.

    He then says he had to write a terrible joke for the song “The Worst Joke Ever”

    He said the premise of the song is referenced in some of the lyrics of the new songs referring to a group of people he refers to as the “flat earthers” who are the generation that grew up in the 50’s in America, part of his parents generation, and he’s now learning his generation too, who refuse to acknowlege the earth is not flat, i.e. they have pulled us backwards politically and culturally to some insane idea of what the 1950’s were meant to be like. (see Bush administration)

    He says the terrible joke he wrote speaks well of this mentality of people who are holding all of us back with their actions and their policies. (Iraq war, etc)

    He ends by saying its fucking hard to sing.

    It maybe explains the lyrics “Some things don’t hold up over the course of a lifetime. When’s the first time you heard that one? 1954?

    Anyways on the live version you get to hear Mike Mills harmonizing on the choruses so it make it sound better than the studio, as almost all of ATS sounds better in a live setting.

    Therefore after hearing it live, it gave me a reason to listen to “Worst Joke Ever” again, and appreciate it a little bit more.

  185. Gabriel Peters Says:

    You can´t actually be a son, at most a daughter… 😉
    You cited one of the most depressing words Morrissey ever has written, everytime I read/hear them something contracts inside of me facing such painful experiences, that stand behind such words.

  186. Matthew’s got “You Wreck Me” on the Petty blog now. 12 paragraphs of intense dissection…did you know that song is really about the Crimean Sea? It’s being sung from one shell-fish to another as the sea-currents bash them into each other and damage their carapaces. Beautiful stuff…the anaylsis moved me to tears.

  187. transformerdog Says:

    Hey , morewordsaboutmusic, are you a marine biologist , like Costanza ?

  188. The sea was angry that day, my friend. Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli…

  189. Paul Alferink Says:

    Is Bill going to expand the Petty blog to include the Traveling Wilbury’s albums? Let me know when he gets to ‘Yer so Bad’

    “My Sister got Lucky, Married a Yuppie
    took him for all he was worth
    Now he’s got nothing, head in the oven
    I can’t decide which is worse

    Ah yer so bad
    best thing I ever had
    in a world gone made
    yer so bad”

    Those lyrics were so deep and profound, they changed my seven grade life. Don’t even get me started on Zombie Zoo! 🙂

    (Ashamed to admit that before I knew who REM was, the second CD I owned (After Billy Joel’s “Storm Front” was “Full Moon Fever” by Tom Petty. Even sang Free Fallin for a talent show. My voice changed. My Peter Brady moment. Adolesence sucks. And then it was all down hill. Musical Soundtracks for two years until I heard “Losing My Religion” and “Smells like Teen Spirit, and it all changed . . .”

  190. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Hey, I love REM, but I own all of the Tom Petty albums as well! Although I will agree that Petty’s lyrics are, shall we say, obvious? Still, catchy simple tunes and his new CD “Highway Companion” is very good.

  191. transformerdog Says:

    No more credit from the liquor store
    My shoes are all dirty boy CORNFIELD
    She told me she loved me I believe what she say
    Took me for a sucker boy CORNFIELD

  192. JeyramoXRu Says:

    Hello boys and girls 😉
    Somebody can give me url to the XRumer’s homepage?
    Or maybe some information…

    Thank you very much!!!

    P.S. Вот уроды…

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