Walter’s Theme

July 23, 2007

“Walter’s Theme” was written as a unsolicited jingle for Walter’s Bar-B-Q of Athens, Georgia. It’s a fun, goofy instrumental with some muffled chatter and wacky noises made by Michael Stipe filling in the negative space before the song halts and segues into a loose, sloppy version of “King of the Road.” It’s kinda hard to be critical about a recording that is so incredibly unpretentious and informal. It’s pleasant and fun, and it makes me wish that I could head on down to Walter’s for a plate of ribs because, well, I suppose I just trust Peter Buck’s judgment vis-a-vis barbecued meats.


36 Responses to “Walter’s Theme”

  1. Paul Alferink Says:

    If I was Walter, I would’ve latch on to his as quickly as possible. . .
    Yes, silly fun.

    “I’ve got a hat the size of OOOOOOklahoma”

  2. Paul Alferink Says:

    As the other REM Restuarant related trivia, I always thought it was funny that the REM fans that stole the “Automatic for the People sign from that other Athens establishment returned with a written apology and some cash for the trouble.

  3. Justin Says:

    “I suppose I just trust Peter Buck’s judgment vis-a-vis barbecued meats.”

    Dumb question: does Peter actually say anything on this song?

    Related dumb question: Has Peter’s voice ever been captured on a (non-live) R.E.M. record?

    (I just thought of the countdown at the beginning of “Country Feedback.” Anything else?)

  4. transformerdog Says:

    LZ got a Walter’s Walk on Coda, which also includes Poor Tom , Darlene, and Bonzo’s Montreaux

    listening to song now to understand bizarre reference to barbecued meats

  5. Paul Alferink Says:

    I think Peter says something like “It sounds more like a Ballpark to me” on Memphis train blues, a B-Side to Stand.

  6. Ignis Sol Says:

    Justin: Is that not Peter counting down on “Drive?” Or is Mike?

    I just listened to this on my iPod and then I listened to the next song which is “Wanderlust.”

    I listen to “Walter’s Theme” and dance around my apartment…..naked. With my windows wide-open. And that is tame compared to the others going on in my neighborhood!

    My fellow apartment building dwellers must hate me when I always play R.E.M. Not too long ago I played their R.E.M.IX (vinyl version, thank you) and mixed it into Joan Baez/Pylons/Patty Smith/Radiohead/some old psy-trance album/”Hyena”-slowing down the line “the only thing to fear is fearlessness).

  7. Paul Alferink Says:


    Where exactly in Seattle do you live? And are there any other apartments for rent. . . 😉

  8. Ignis Sol Says:

    Paul – I live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and yes, two doors down from is open…with brand new hardwood-type floors that I don’t have!!). Come visit!!

    There is a huge,huge house behind my picture window and they (a family I have heard for a few years, but have never seen) sure get an eyeful now and then (and an earful or R.E.M.) My ‘hood is a mix of condos/apartments/mansions/naughty people/huge park/Asian Art Museum/and the cemetary where Bruce Lee is buried.


  9. jill Says:

    I don’t think Walter’s Bar-B-Q is there anymore; I think it’s something else now. Which is unfortunate.

  10. Ignis Sol Says:

    Hopefully, jill, it is not a Wal*Mart.

  11. ActionJackson Says:

    I called this the Oklahoma song when I was young.

  12. jill Says:

    no, not in downtown athens. i think it’s another restaurant.

  13. Mr Cup Says:

    Bruce Lee is buried in Seattle? The things you learn.

    I think this album and songs like this (being released) are are large part of REM’s appeal. They claim not to take themselves to seriously and here’s the proof.

  14. Justin Says:

    Peter Buck does the last chorus on R.E.M.’s version of “I Walked with a Zombie”, which is a rollicking little number. All the guys take a stab at the chorus at the end. Peter’s is very theatrical, like he’s channeling Vincent Price or something.

  15. Paul Alferink Says:

    It would certainly be cool if they ever collected the Christmas Singles into a collection. I don’t even own a record player.

    What’s your favorite Fan Club Single Song? I think I only got three ’45’s. The Wicked Game/Java one, Only Happy when I’m cryin/ Live for Today, and the Only in America/I Will Survive where JMS admits he doesn’t know the words past the 1st versus. The

    I vote for Java. That was a fun little dumb number.

  16. transformerdog Says:

    was it my imagination or was REM on Boston Public a few years ago ?

  17. Paul Alferink Says:

    They were. And Party of Five. And The Simpsons. Might as well ask if there was a Fox show they weren’t on. . .

  18. Kirsten Says:

    This is just a great little song. Gotta love it. “Take something home to the Mrs – they’ll give you a bag to put it in”

    Paul, I love their version of Wicked Game. Much better than Chris Isaac. Hope Matthew does a review of it. Justin – I though that was Michael doing the last ‘spoken’ verse on “I walked with a zombie” – but I could be wrong.

    And Ignis – I don’t know what to say about you! 🙂 Thanks for making me smile at a very traumatic time in my life. Isn’t it funny that even though I’ve had plenty of suport, it’s somebody I don’t really know and have never met that cheered me up a bit and made me laugh. The magic of the internet….

  19. Paul Alferink Says:

    Group Hug for Kristen.

  20. Kirsten Says:

    Thanx Paul, but could Ignis get dressed first for everyone’s sake??


  21. Ignis Sol Says:

    Kirsten, I am glad I can put a smile on your face. But I am not getting dressed just yet. I wish you the best. Hugs to you!

  22. Paul Alferink Says:

    If it frightens you, just thing of this Yoko Ono quote:

    Yoko: I wonder why men get serious at all. They have this delicate, long thing hanging outside their bodies which goes up and down by its own will. If I were a man I would always be laughing at myself. (edit)

  23. transformerdog Says:

    never been to Seattle , very much want to , driving up to SF in Aug. , never been there either

    Elaine : You mean it shrinks
    Jerry : Yeah ,like a scared turtle.

    What a classic line that was !!

  24. Kirsten Says:

    Making excuses transformerdog?

  25. transformerdog Says:

    never been to Seattle , very much want to , driving up to SF in Aug. , never been there either

    Elaine : You mean it shrinks ?
    Jerry : Yeah ,like a scared turtle.

    What a classic line that was !!

  26. transformerdog Says:

    Kirsten , do you get Seinfeld in Aussie land ?

  27. Kirsten Says:

    Yes and I remember the “swimming pool” episode you’re talking about. Unfortunately, “shrinkage” occurs here too!

  28. Clive Says:

    I don’t know where I read it but I did read that it is Peter Buck singing “you try to walk like a big wham bam etc. etc.” in Ascent Of Man.
    Also I’m fairly sure he sings ‘I see no evil’ behind Stipes ‘walking hand in hand with the one I love’ in ‘See No Evil’ – another Xmas single. I say this because he always sings this part in live shows.

    Incidentally – I always thought it was Stipe counting down before Country Feedback for years until I realised it was Peter. Their spoken voices do sound quite similar sometimes.

  29. Mr Cup Says:

    I can’t live in a place where the average temp drops below 20c!

  30. Andy Says:

    The line about “a hat the size of Oklahoma” is a Pere Ubu reference. Just thought I’d throw that out there…

  31. Bandwagon03 Says:

    Pere Ubu, wow, i didnt know that. I always liked that. Also like “They’ll give you a bag….to put it in…”

  32. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:


  33. Figgy Says:

    Well spotted, Andy. The first line from the Pere Ubu song “My Hat” goes “Some hats are shaped like Oklahoma”.

  34. 2fs Says:

    “My Hat” itself refers to an earlier Ubu song, “Lonesome Cowboy Dave,” which goes “My name is David – I have a hat the size of Oklahoma.” To continue the referentiality…the title of that song is, of course, a reference to “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” by the VU.

  35. protimoi86 Says:

    speaking of yoko and christmas singles…Peter also can be heard on the intro to their equally informal version of The Beatles’ Christmas Time Is Here Again from the 2000 fan club holiday single.

    “the question is…when will paul marry yoko? it’ll bring the whole thing full circle?”

    then when someone asks about tuning, Buck responds saying “tuning is completely incidental” to the whole thing. It’s a great little bit i’m glad they left in.

  36. jim jos Says:

    Just watched Inside Out, and Walter looks like a very nice man.

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