Dark Globe

July 30, 2007

“Dark Globe” is the most emotionally devastating song of Syd Barrett‘s short and often brilliant career, in part because it’s the one that most perfectly encapsulates his frail, somewhat child-like expression of both joy and sadness. In the late ’80s, the song became a staple of R.E.M.’s live shows, most often appearing in the second or third encore, just before the end of the night. The band’s version was more streamlined than Barrett’s, translating its peculiar rhythms to a simple, sentimental piano arrangement and a vocal performance by Michael Stipe that was mostly sweet, and occasionally off-key. The studio version sounds a bit dashed off, but nails its emotional tone, particularly in the way Stipe sings the words as though he is the saddest little boy in all of the world. “Won’t you miss me? Wouldn’t you miss me at all?” It’s a bit cartoonish and lacks the context and weight of the Barrett recording, but it’s heartbreaking all the same.

50 Responses to “Dark Globe”

  1. I seem to recall this being available as a GUitar Player magazine flexi-disc; did this ever see release under any other format?

  2. ozon Says:

    It’s a b-side to my Everybody Hurts CD single as well.

  3. Paul Alferink Says:

    It’s on a UK single for Everybody Hurts, along with Chance.

    Nice B-side. Kind of reminds me of Moon River, in that they played it live for a while before it was ever a B-side. It’s a cover. A piano ballad. And you would never think it’s a song REM would do. REM covers are weird, largely. Moon River. Dark Globe. Love is All Around. Arms of Love. Dream, which I’m pretty sure was sung at gun point. I mean, really. Moon River, Wicked Game and Dark Globe sound like gay caberet torch songs. They’re nice, but clearly atypical REM.

    Then you have Strange, Crazy, Toys in the Attic, and Superman. Strange, Crazy and Superman sound like they might have been written by REM, with Mike Mills writing the Superman Lyrics. Toys sticks out a bit, but fits. Then there are the VU songs, which just are kind of their own catergory.

  4. transformerdog Says:

    Syd Barett died an inconspicuous common middle aged man death not too long ago, not too long after the discoverer (inventor? I guess discoverer would be more accurate) of LSD turned 100 years old….life is strange (yeah, life is strange)..David Gilmour has been playing this tune recently , at times, solo..what a voice–Gilmour–imagine an REM Floyd collaboration …hmmn..For those of you who don’t know this , Joe Boyd , the producer of FOTR worked with the Floyd during the Barrettt daze…(I just recently heard of that connetion)..Saw something on the net not too long ago about Peter working with KIng Crimson , recording something, hmmn..exponentially intereresting, eh Captain?…I never heard the REM version of Dark Globe…………..(threw me a curve this morning,Mattthew, your’re almost as unpredictable as the Slinkmeister. thanx)

  5. karen Says:

    it’s on some old bootlegs as well. though i doubt bootlegs are canonical enough to (necessarily) include here.

  6. When it comes to covers, I’m being sorta selective, and my idea of “canonical” has more to do with frequency of performance than availability of studio recordings. Setlist staples, basically.

  7. Paul Alferink Says:

    Where does your setlist info come from, esp. since you got in around OoT?

  8. Paul Alferink Says:

    Nevermind, I see the link . . . .

  9. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I have actually never heard this song. I hate admitting my ignorance. I do love all 3 VU covers though!

  10. Ignis Sol Says:

    Nice review, Matthew.

    Coincidentally, I listened to R.E.M.’s great cover of “There She Goes” on my walk to work this beautiful morning. What is it about VU and R.E.M. that seems to work so well? I was aware of “Dark Globe,” but I have never heard it, I think.

    I am very excited to listen to it, now.

  11. It kinda kills me that they never did a proper studio recording of “After Hours.” I mean, c’mon, they closed most shows between 1986 and 1989 with that song! It’s an honorary R.E.M. song, for sure!

  12. Kerry Says:

    I have a flexi-disc that came from a magazine called “Sassy” with this song on it. Apparently, it was a supplement to an article on REM back in about ’89 or so. I have no idea how this came to be in my possession, but I suspect my sister had a subscription or something.

  13. Figgy Says:

    I’m pretty sure both “Dark Globe” and “Ghost Rider” were b-sides to the “Orange Crush” single back in 1989. That’s when I first heard REM’s version of “Dark Globe”. I have to say, I really like it.

    I love the emotion Stipe gets into lines like “please lift a hand, I’m only a person”, “my head kissed the ground, I was half the way down” and (as Matthew has said already) “wouldn’t you miss me at all?” Beautiful.

  14. Figgy Says:

    Actually, I think the line is “why don’t you miss me at all?” (I always thought it was that, but “wouldn’t you” works quite nicely too, Matthew). Either way, it’s a good line the way Stipe sings it.

  15. Paul Alferink Says:

    My single of Orange Crush only has Ghost Rider on it, but then, it’s vinyl. I would love to get the Green singles on CD.

  16. Figgy Says:

    Hi Paul. The Orange Crush single my mate owned (and I listened to) was vinyl too. It must have been this UK & Ireland release:
    I managed to get a copy of Dark Globe on CD a few years later when I bought The Automatic Box. Did any of you ever hear that box set?

  17. transformerdog Says:

    thinking that “inventor” might be a better word after all, although an accidental inventor, I mean the molecules were already there , just not combined in that way ……How crazy to think that something as profound as LSD is just a chemical combination ??..But then the argument can be made that the mind itself is nothing more than a chemical combination (although , personally , I don’t believe that) ..I wonder if REM ever dropped acid ,.. in a way I can’t imagine that they did but then again a certain part of me is saying , “Of course they did, you idiot!!”….Yeah, upon further review, OF COURSE they did. (don’t quote me on that)

  18. I need to emphasize that I am quoting directly from R.E.M.’s recording in the post, NOT Syd’s version.

  19. transformerdog Says:

    Hoffman’s got Bicycle Day, the Floyd’s got Bicycle , and REM’s got Tricyle……..yeah , REM’s dosed 🙂 , maybe MUCH more than I would ever suspect..The question is where does Queen ‘s Bicycle fit into this equation ? (Brian May just got a degree in astro -physics, hmnn , another piece is fitting……..)

  20. transformerdog Says:

    sorry Mr.May , he got a DOCTORATE in astrophysics
    Whoop , oh Lordy , well I did it again

  21. Figgy Says:

    Hi, transformerdog.

    Just thought I’d say hi coz it looks like you’ve been having a conversation with yourself up until this point. 🙂

  22. transformerdog Says:

    no Piggy , never heard it_____Pig On The Wing

  23. Scott Says:

    It’s an appropriate “Green” B-side–“The Wrong Child” all grown up and fitted for adult-size heartbreak. Various bootleg versions sound fine, but I prefer the studio version, despite the fact that the digital piano breaks character.

    It’s a cousin of the way-polished piano part that hinders an otherwise ace cover of “The Passenger” from Jools Holland’s “Later,” from the “Up” tour. The latter makes me think of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” character hamming it up at the keyboard, shades and all, at the party scene toward the end of that movie. It’s all small-town bar band–not a virtue in this case.

  24. Kirsten Says:

    Transformerdog, have YOU been dropping acid tonight??

  25. Kirsten Says:

    I love Michael’s pleading voice in this one. I’m always singing it and it’s great ’cause if you sing out of tune, thats right! makes it easy and fun. I always thought the line was “why don’t you miss me at all” like Figgy.

    Hey Ignis, I walk home from work every day, too! It takes me about 30 mins and I always listen to REM, studio albums, bootlegs, fanclub singles and even some mixed stuff that I got off the radio (like I Walked With A Zombie). It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

    Also, whilst I’m sitting here in the future (it’s Tuesday morning), I’ll like to be the first to wish Bill Berry a Happy Birthday! This is the day when I listen to the songs with the best drum parts!

  26. jim jos Says:

    One of the reasons that R.E.M. is so (rightfully) critically applauded is that they are one of the few groups that knew/knows how to have a real connection with the music of the sixties. It’s an important connection.

    Perhaps the somewhat decline of their critical perch is due the sad fact that much of the sixties music has fallen off the radar. Sure, people in smarter circles will always play the Beatles, Hot Rocks era Stones and Dylan, but the large musical foundation on which those figureheads rose to the top of has eroded greatly in the last 10 years or so. Classic rock is now Guns and Roses and will soon be Pearl Jam (if not already) not the Band.
    But in the eighties, the sixties were just twenty years removed, as opposed to 40 years now since 67.
    Surrealistic Pillow, Buffalo Springfield Again and Younger Than Yesterday were as old as Document, Joshua Tree and Daydream Nation are now.
    Or Piper At the Gates of Dawn for that matter.

    Like the Dead shows of the eighties/early nineties, you could go and there would be 45 year old people who had lived it as well as 15 year olds who could physically see them and live the experience as well and you would get this overall vibe that it (music) was all just one collective thing.

    And that’s one thing that R.E.M. could really do, they could cover a VU song or a Barrett song directly, or make a Byrds type song (Flowers of Guatemala)and give these kind of winks to the rock community that, “yeah, were current, but we know we’re part of this whole continuous thing”
    and while you definitely weren’t going to see Syd Barrett in 1989 (if you ever could see him) but the fan who bought early Floyd would be around 40, and not horribly out of place at an R.e.m. concert and he/she could experience a living continuation of it (not a tribute or a calculated retro rip off thing) with a new, younger rock fan.

  27. Figgy Says:

    Hi Kirsten. I like to relax by listening to REM too. There’s an album to suit almost any mood.

    At the weekend (part inspired by the Flowers of Guatemala blog) I gave LRP a spin at high volume as I tidied up the lounge. “Singing” along loudly to These Days swinging my sweeping brush as if clutching a microphone and stand. But what the hey… no one could see me.

    Recently, my wife (a long-suffering “REM widow”) has complained that I’ve started to get a bit more obsessive than usual about the band. I put it down to this blog and to all the recent web coverage of the Dublin rehearsals. All credit to her powers of observation!

  28. Kirsten Says:

    I always listen to REM while doing the weekly household cleaning. Makes a chore something I can actually look forward to and not boring. But YOU doing the cleaning?? Lucky woman has you very well trained…..

  29. transformerdog Says:

    Hi Kirsten
    Sorry Figgy , I really thought it was Piggy, I was trying to distinguish if that was a P or an F but everything is moving (ahahahaah I’m spinning…); the Floyd song is Bike not Bicycle –felt it necessary to make that correction–I’ll say this.. the end to Jugband Blues may be the most haunting spine tingling thing in rock history (the guitar at the very beginning of Gimme Shelter and that bit at the end of Long,Long, Long giving it a good run for the money amongst others I’m sure…..)..
    “And the sea is not green
    And I love the queen
    And what exactly is a dream
    And what exactly is a joke”..the way it emerges from that weird marching band bit , that hollow desolate guitar and that vocal just sends chills up my spine..Syd is so brilliantly gone, like in a scary way …..I guess they don’t call it “cid” for nothing..

  30. transformerdog Says:

    jimjos , you should write for Rolling Stone
    and I second the “Happy Birthday , Bill Berry”
    I know Stipe’s bday and Jimmy Page, but not Berry’s –thanx Kirsten

  31. maclure Says:

    Hey Figgy, LOL! My wife is saying the same thing. My REM obsession took a dive a few years back but is definitley back on in the run up to this new record. There is indeed an REM album for every mood…

  32. Figgy Says:

    Glad I’m not alone, maclure! To give my wife credit, she’s into really good music and also likes REM. She’s seen the band live 3 times (and not just coz I dragged her along – her first REM gig happened before we ever met).
    The thing is she doesn’t get quite as passionate about the music (and I mean any music) as I do. But she’s still a very supportive wife! 🙂

  33. jim jos Says:

    I wanna to be on the cover of rolling stone, I hear those no thrill like that.

    If you play Jugband Blues alone in the dark clowns will emerge and murder you, I am not kidding.

    I agree with “Gimmie Shelter” and My Sweet George/He’s so Fine “Long, Long, Long” good points.

    another couple that do it to me are “Borrowed Tune” by Neil Young. I am surprised that Neil didn’t just die right there, after singing “I hope that it ma-a-a-aters. Crash. So glad he didn’t.

    Or, “Me and a Gun” by Tori Amos. Jeez.

    Outside of the rock era, “Gloomy Sunday” done by Billie Holiday is not a song to listen to if you have lost someone recently and you have firearms nearby.

    sub topic in full force now?

  34. jim jos Says:

    I wrote “those” when I meant to write “there’s”, perhaps I am a big enough hack to write for RS.

  35. Ignis Sol Says:

    Kirsten – ‘we walk’ a lot here in Seattle. Sometimes, I even ‘stumble.’ HA!

    So, it is Farmer Bill Berry’s birthday! Happy Birthday Bill – we know you are out there.

  36. transformerdog Says:

    the cool thing , jimjos , is thatI have Rhapsody on my computer which means that I can immediately call up this stuff and take a listen, was checking out Tori Amos’s American Doll Posse just last night, luv that Neil Young mid 70’s trifecta ..Tonight’s The Night, Zuma, On The Beach (don’t know if that order is right)..

  37. transformerdog Says:

    a little comical (well , not very funny) side note , I don’t know how many of you noticed in the link posted above ..The Best Of Syd Barrett released in the states on September 11,2001..that is just so appropriate

  38. Justin Says:

    I bought the CD single of “Man On the Moon” in Austin, TX way back in like 1992-3. It contained “Arms of Love,” and I listened to that song incessantly that year because I was dating a girl who attended a faraway university.

    “Arms of Love” was the song that got me through those years…I’d listen to it in anticipation of seeing her.

    My point is this: does anyone have a link to an MP3 *OR* a paid/financially responsible resource of “Arms of Love”?

    I just want the song, one way or another. Thx.

  39. Justin Says:

    (It was the clave, I think, that hooked me.)

  40. transformerdog Says:

    theres about 20 Arms of Love available on Rhapsody , no REM version, who did that originally?

  41. Scott Says:

    Justin, I just sent an MP3 of “Arms” to a friend the other day because it’s such a great song. Write me at swilson91@kc.rr.com and I’ll hit you back with the song.

  42. Martijn Says:

    It’s alright, this one… certainly a lot better than Placebo’s version of the same song.

    But overall I’m not that fond of R.E.M.’s covers… even the VU ones were kind of a let down. The only exceptions I can think of right now are Arms Of Love and First We take Manhattan.

    And of course the way they attack I Will Survive and King Of The Road is funny.

  43. ADB Says:

    One of the (many) great things about Automatic era REM was the quality of the b-sides. You had to shop around the formats a bit, but I remember putting together a compilation for the car entitled B-Sides For The People and it rocked: First We Take Manhattan, Fretless, Free World Baby, Arms Of Love, this track. Even the throwaway instrumentals like Winged Mammal Theme and Fruity Organ are quite good fun. And Chance (dub) and Lion Sleeps Tonight make me laugh too..

    This song is beautiful – I didn’t hear the original until a few years after this came out. Same with Ghost Rider and After Hours – fascinating to hear how different they are.

  44. Paul Alferink Says:

    Arms of Love is a Robyn Hitchkok (sp) song.

    Happy Birthday Bill! Celebrate it by doing what you do best (and I’m not talking about a tractor).

    I hope you have fun listening to I Don’t Sleep, I Dream, Iteofwawki(aiff), and White Tornado. The three Bill Berry Drum songs that come to mind.

    Is American Doll Posse worth it. I was a big Amos fan, but to Venus and back album lost me a bit and her subsequent albums having gotten me to the point that I buy her stuff unheard anymore. . .

  45. Mr Cup Says:

    Speaking of Robyn Hitchcock, this song always makes me want to hear Dark Green Energy straight after it…dunno why…perhaps I’ll die..

  46. transformerdog Says:

    Paul, ain’t really absorbed it yet ,couldn’t really give you an accurate assessment on that… Would have to listen some more

    When I saw Robyn Hictchcock he comes out walks up to the mike and deadpans ,”Shame about the universe.” , then rips into a punkish hard #, don’t know what it was , am unfamiliar with his material

  47. 2d Says:

    paul, i quite like “american doll posse”. it does run a little too long, but many of the songs are really good. it’s not monotonous at all, it has moments when it soars to great heights, and her voice sounds amazing through and through. you be the judge.

  48. Susan Says:

    Karen mentioned that this was on some bootlegs. I had one of them and although the lp is long since lost (and missed), I still remember every detail of it. It was a live recording with a lot of background noise from the audience. There was obviously a very vocal, rowdy person in the crowd next to the person who was recording. The minimal guitar and Stipe’s fragile vocal are constantly assaulted by this guy yelling unintelligibly (it sounds like he’s saying “get on fat! go smee!”), as well as a lot of more diffuse crowd noise. It sounds like it would make a terrible recording, but actually, the effect is to make the song that much more poignant. I agree that R.E.M.’s version is missing a lot of what makes the original special, but that it’s still really effective.

    p.s. There was also a great version of So. Central Rain on that bootleg, with just Michael singing and Peter playing guitar, at a slightly slower tempo than the studio version. The rhythm section does a great job on the record, with an especially lovely bassline, but I’ve never been able to appreciate the album version as much since I had the stripped-down live version to compare it to. It just had a lot more feeling to it.

  49. […] Stipe seemed to enjoy doing during this period — you can hear him do the same thing on “Dark Globe” and “After Hours,” and he’d toss it into his own songs here and there. It’s […]

  50. profligateprofiterole Says:

    Hi Susan.

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