Man On The Moon

December 8, 2007

Somehow, “Man on the Moon” seems entirely inexplicable. It’s so hard to imagine someone writing it, it just feels like something that one day came in to being, as though R.E.M.  tapped into something far beyond themselves.  It’s just a song — a relatively simple, straightforward song — and yet there’s this odd, ineffable feeling in the space between its chords, roughly akin to the sensation of stepping into a grand cathedral. It is mostly gentle and mid-tempo, but there’s a joyous bounce to its beat, as though every time it kicks up into the chorus, it’s a step closer to the heavens, and understanding unknowable things.

There’s a holy buzz in every moment of the tune, and it’s no mistake — “Man on the Moon” is a secular song about faith and belief that mostly swaps out religious imagery for pop cultural detritus. The lyrics are grounded in the trivia and junk of modern life, which helps to provide a context for the singer’s cynicism, but also his sense of wonder. He finds some minor magic in kitsch, and crucially, he understands that his life is just as ephemeral as any passing fad. He acknowledges that everything he knows is ultimately insignificant, but he also understands that it’s not all meaningless, and that we need to believe in something — anything! — to invest our lives with creativity and meaning. There’s obviously a conflict in there, but that’s not really the focus of the song. Instead, it’s a celebration of belief in the face of absurdity, and embracing faith even when you think you know better.

107 Responses to “Man On The Moon”

  1. Dark Bob Says:

    Very good review M.P. It made me look deeper into this song then just an homage to the late Andy Kaufman. Definetly another example of one of REM’s “Finest hours”.

  2. I wanted to take the focus off of Kaufman — a lot has been written about that aspect of the song, but as Michael has said a bunch of times, Kaufman is someone he chose to go on the “journey” of the song. I wanted to focus on that journey, and the reason why the song has such a huge appeal that transcends the band and their discography.

  3. Paul Alferink Says:

    I remember getting Automatic when Drive was the first single and listening to the album. I loved Drive; I had heard that one before. But I immediately latched onto this song and never let go. That doesn’t happen as much most times when I listen to REM. I grow to love some songs more, and some retreat. Only very special songs stay contant.

    As we were talking about first three songs earlier, Automatic, would have to run away with the last three songs award. I mean, wow.

    Best lyrics:
    Here’s a truck stop instead of Saint Peter’s.

    Second Best:
    Mister Charles Darwin had the gall to ask.

    By the By. Gall has such fantastic connotations, I wish they would keep it gall and not change it to balls.

  4. ScottMalobisky Says:

    for those of you unfafmiliar with the In Time PB notes : ” If I were to pick one song as the quintessential REM song, this would be it, which is kind of ironic because it came within two hours of not being on AFTP. With five days left before the record was mastered, we had the track completely finished except for the lyrics. Michael was completely stumped , and was getting quite irritated with all of us leaning over his shoulder. It was decided that rather than drive each other crazy in the studio, we would take a few days off. Michael spent his time off driving around in his rental car with a cassette of the track singing along for four days. When we reconvened, Michael walked into the studio, sang MOTM once, and walked out. We were all stunned. It was one of those magic moments I’ll remember long after the award ceremonies and photo sessions have disappeared into the mists of time.”

    I apologize to those of you familiar with this story.

  5. Justin Says:

    Best final three tracks on any album ever. And I’ve heard them all! 🙂

    Seriously though…those last three tracks, beginning with this one, are magical. A (kinda) rocker, a totally sentimental piece, followed with a hopeful, yearning, defiant final statement. Brilliant.

    I got an acoustic guitar around the time AFTP came out, and I would play Bill’s “accidental” opening chords over and over. I was so impressed with myself. With two chords, I could faithfully recreate the opening of a classic song! Thanks, Bill!

    This song will last forever.

  6. ADB Says:

    Great write up Matthew, it’s sometimes easy to forget with tracks that have become as ubiquitous as MOTM, just what made them so special in the first place. This has been the soundtrack to so many moments in my life, all of which come flooding back every time I hear those opening chords, but one does stick out:

    Milton Keynes, 29 July 1995, a warm summer night, the first time I’ve seen REM in 6 long years. As Michael sings ‘Mr Andy Kaufman’s gone wrestling’ he looks up and does this half wave/ half salute to a full moon, shining bright in a cloudless sky. A moment.

  7. Mr Cup Says:

    Transcendental, beautiful, bliss.

    A celebration of the micro and the macro as one.

    Bisky – I hadn’t read that before, so thanks for sharing. It’s one of those occasions where I wish I was a ‘fly on the wall’.

    Just going to go and buy a new thesaurus then I’ll be back.

  8. jft Says:

    this one was one of my connections on R.E.M. long before I got to know the rest of their work. and it was also the beginning of my love for R.E.M., as my first R.E.M.-record was “in time”, with first track MOTM. the thing that stayed in my mind after listening a lot to the songs and especially this one was the bassline of the intro/verse- simple, yet effective and remarkable. the funny thing is, in the live versions that focus changes to PB’s arpeggiated guitar, which isn’t part of the actual recording (or, if it is, is quite low in the mix).
    anyway, my first real “album” was ATS and I liked it and it inspired me to get into R.E.M. a lot more – I actually think that it is a good starter for future fans, as when it’s the first one, everything gets better. as a single record, it’s not that bad. but I’m leaving the path of what I want to say.
    my second rem-album was AFTP, and I was stunned by its sheer beauty and soon recognized it as being a milestone of music, which is more due to its amount of perfect songs as to its sequencing, two unimportant tracks. and nowadays I often overlook MOTM as it’s so hidden in the last quarter of the album, quite unremarkably. I caught myself thinking that this song is not that good, medium R.E.M. level. but then I listened to it in the radio on the highway and I thought “wow, this in fact is a great song”. and it still is and will stay that and it’s timeless, one of the 90’s radio hits that will stay longer. and PB is right, this one is quite quintessential and I think MP’s blog entry also nailed it.
    now that it’s late at night (4am), I’ve got my headphones on and listening to the last 3 of AFTP, I must agree that this might be the best 3 songs in a row, even if I often overlook MOTM and nightswimming in fact of the supernatural and more-than-perfect Find the River. Good Night.

  9. milesy Says:

    I can’t think of this song without thinking of the wonderful video that went with it (even though I didn’t see the video til long after I had the album). For me, it’s the most successful REM video, because it has a great mini-story line which complements and adds to the song in a narrative kind of way. Michael is on top form (as ever) striding through the desert: but, best of all, Bill, Peter and Mike have great cameos which suit their less-than-enthusiastic acting talents and actually add to the video for the fan (much more than the other major videos for AFTP I think).

    By the way, for hilarious and insightful comments on this and many other REM videos see the relevant chapter in Marcus Gray’s ‘It Crawled from the South’>

  10. Rob Says:

    Does he mention the look of complete disdain on Peter Buck’s face throughout the Shiny Happy People video? When he attempts to dance it kills me every time.

    As for Man On The Moon, well it’s one song that can make a whole field full of people singing along actually seem extremely moving, no mean feat indeed.

  11. 2d Says:

    great review, matthew. there is nothing i can add to improve upon that. you “tapped into something far beyond it” that i have never quite grasped until now. *speechless*

    shall i treat you to some ice cream then? 😉 LOL

  12. ScottMalobisky Says:

    yeah , tremendous review !!…”roughly akin to stepping into a grand cathedral” ,”and understanding unknowable things”..well put.

    the frail wisp of “here’s a little ghost for the offering”, such a delicate moment, that, and what’s an agit?

    so many great lines in this one
    and I love the bass

    “see you in heaven if you make the list”, what if I was in heaven and my friends and family were in hell? how could it be heaven then ?– I guess one passes through a giant filter/erasor of sorts that eradicates all memories of one’s Earthly existence ?—beats me

  13. ScottMalobisky Says:

    What was the name of that movie, ?Capricorn One? O.J. was in it, about the moon landing not really happening , all staged by Hollywood and the government………. ………… me…..

    GO STEELERS*****************************************
    sports : the grand narcotic distraction of the ignorant masses so we don’t think about what is really going on.

  14. jim jos Says:

    it seems like an Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window, type challenge. “Michael, try and write a great song where the first verse starts off with ‘Mott the Hoople’. He definitely pulled it off, and my life is all the better for it.

    Really can’t add much to this song that hasn’t been said (better) by the rest of you. I love the relationship between the childhood games and experiences in the first verse, and the more established great thinkers of the next (Moses, Darwin, Newton). All tied in with “Truck stop instead of St. Peter’s” line.

    That line, with the idea, that the greatest things you can find can be as common and beautiful as a well time truck stop on the traveling road, that the heavenly can be found, and indeed lives in, taking pleasure in the moments and places that can be the most mundane.


    p.s. I never really saw this song as being about Andy Kaufman, instead Andy is kind of the Virgil character in the Inferno, the guide, the kindred spirit that travels along with you as you make your way.

  15. LITTLE WILLY Says:


  16. Figgy Says:

    Excellent review from Matthew and fine comments from everyone. What a song. Admittedly, there have been times when I’ve skipped over it or forgotten how good it really is. But there’s no denying that this is a huge song.

    It’s hard to imagine the world without this song and difficult to remember a time when it didn’t exist.

  17. Andy Says:

    I’ll be a bit of a wet blanket. I really haven’t ever liked this one, and I can’t really explain why. I just can’t see it as acheiveing something transcendent.

    I do think it represents a change in how the band approached their lyrics. Before MOTM, it seemed like the lyrics were full of history and archetypes: trains, dovetail joints, Miles Standish. I remember listening to this with some friends when it first came out. Someone said “Did he just mention Monopoly?”

    In a previous post, someone mentioned the change from “Driver 8” to “High Speed Train.” I’ve always felt like MOTM was the moment when that change–whatever it is–actually started.

    …but then again, I could be wrong.

  18. Justin Says:

    This is probably the best assessment of this song I’ve ever read. You’re right, too much emphasis is put on Kaufman’s inclusion.

    This song is special in my life for a very odd reason. When I was a teenager, I neglected to really notice how much was going on with studio recordings. I paid most attention to the voice and the beat; everything else seemed background. One day I was washing my grandparents’ car and I had the radio on really loud. “Man on the Moon” came on and suddenly this weird, low melody leapt out at me (the bassline). Then I noticed this weird little knocking sound punctuating each line of the verses. The song enveloped me and it was pretty much cathartic; I never realized the intricacy of music that explicitly before.

    Of course after that I started listening to music in a whole new dimension, and “Man on the Moon” is still a wondrous track to me for that.

  19. Kirsten Says:

    That’s a really good story Justin.

    To be honest, I’m another one who often overlooks the brilliance of this song. I’d never skip it – that would be a sin, but I often think of it as “just a pop song”. But wow, what a great pop song!

    Second Milesy’s views on the video. He forgot to mention how absolutely gorgeous Michael looked. Not sure if it was those tight jeans, the unbuttoned shirt, that great cowboy hat or that sexy walk, but it worked!!
    I Think I have to go take a cold shower now….

  20. maclure Says:

    Hmmmm, Man on the Moon. I was wondering what would happen when this one would come up. Excellent thoughts from Matthew – it really is about belief and a journey and not just about Kaufman. He is a cameo, as is Elvis and Moses and Darwin and Newton. In fact I also think, if AFTP is the “death” album (and I know MP isn’t so sure that label is fair) I think MOTM is actually a song that contributes to this interpretation. These characters are read off like history, characters from the past who contributed something – be it scientific, theological, comedic, musical etc. – in their lives (and some of them) met unusual and untimely ends as they went to meet St.Peter. (As did that man who got a raw deal, Montgomery Clift – but that’s for another day). As these snippets are read out Stipe echoes, like a cynical teenager, “yeah, yeah, yeah” over the lives of these figures. It’s a grim reminder that all our lives, however significant they are now or not, pretty much end up as “yeah, yeah, yeah”‘s to subsequent generations. I read some stat recently that only 10% of people know the names of their Great Grandparents. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Like Andy above, I will assume the position of a wet blanket, and say that I don’t think this is one of my favourite REM songs. Musically, I don’t feel all the parts make for a cohesive arrangement. But, it’s still a good tune, of course… but I confess to the sin (sorry Kirsten) of skipping this tune from time to time.

    What I thought the chorus lyrics were for many years:

    If you believe, they put a man on the moon (man on the moon).
    If you believe, there’s nothing up there to see, nothing that’s cool…

    I like my lyrics better.

    Thanks Matthew for teaching me the word “detritus”. I’ll put that along with “janky” in my words to practice and use. for vocab improvement anyone?

  21. Ignis Sol Says:

    “Man on the Moon” is significant because it hooked otherwise non-R.E.M. fans into fans of this song. My brother-in-law loved this tune when it came out and years on still sings (badly) the line, “Andy did you hear about this one…”

    I knew it was an instant classic. I reviewed this album for my college paper back when it was released, cheesily titling the article “New R.E.M. album: an automatic masterpiece.” It was quite a bold statement to make since the album was only a week or so old. It was not so cheesy at the time because they had yet to reach new height of popularity with this album, this song and “Everybody Hurts.”

    I also realized the classicness of Automatic for the People a year later on the opening days of my final semesters of university. It was mid summer, warm and wonderful and wafting in the air was a guy entertaining newcomers and returners with by strumming a faithful rendition of MOTM. He followed it up with another favorite of mine, “Under the Milky Way” by The Church.


  22. Ignis Sol Says:

    please excuse my html mistake i meant this classicness

  23. Ignis Sol Says:

    maclure, for me, the word of day from MP is ineffable . I will be sure to use if it so appropriate in one my future freelance stories. 🙂

    MOTM is the song my mother knows and likes. She is mostly familiar with their songs because I would constantly play their albums. My folks never complained about this. Since I could not rebel against them with my musical tastes, I found other ways to rebel against them…maybe that’s why I started getting into techno.

    Oh yeah, and Andrew is my given middle name. So, I am kind of an “Andy!”

  24. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Under The Milky Way tonight , something shimmering and white, love that song …….looking up agit now on that site there maclure. Zappa got a song called Andy, ….”Oh Andy ..”

  25. Kirsten Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe you’ve even heard of the Church. Great band, but I didn’t realise they were popular over seas. My favourite is “Unguarded Moment”. He sounds like he’s going to cry. I love songs with that sort of emotion. One of the main reasons I love REM.

    And Maclure! Skipping MOTM?? Off to the gallows with you!(The ones on my sleeve) 🙂

  26. Ignis Sol Says:

    Of course I know The Church, Kirsten! I also love “Metropolis” from Gold Afternoon Fix. I know they are from “yer neck of the woods,” right?

    Back in Metropolis, circuses and elephants
    Where the oranges grew
    And back in Metropolis nothing can ever topple us
    When I’m standing with you

    With YOU, Kirsten. With you! 🙂

  27. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I love The Church too – and Unguarded Moment is easily my favorite song by them.

    Matthew, it has been said, but this review is your finest hour. Moving and insightful review.

    All that said, Man On The Moon never has done much for me. In the constext of the whole CD it works (I agree that the final three songs may be the best final 3 ever) but as an individual song, for me, it takes WAY too long to get going, there is very little melody or forward momentum on the verses, the chorus finally lifts it up, but it comes to late. A good song, but I would never consider it great, espeically on its own merits, and if it wasn’t known by everybody in the world (yeah, it’s true, the last guy in Uzbekistan just called me and said he knew it) I would never include it on a mix CD, etc.

  28. Clare Says:

    Ah the birth of my true full blown REM obsession. Automatic was the soundtrack to my 5th form year at high school & Man on the Moon because of its perfect wider audience appeal ensured I wasn’t alone in singing along in the common room. Heck even my mum kept asking me who this band were when I played this song over & over. The lyrics are genius, I’d never heard of Aundy Kaufman then but took it to mean far more about religion & science & discovery. Has any other song ever name checked so many big players in the Science/Philosphy sphere?!
    I agree that because of it now being somewhat over played & it becoming their populist signature tune it is easy to get irritated by hearing it when a die-hard fan. I even am tempted sometimes to skip it just to preserve it a bit longer in my affections becuase I did/do love it so much. It is easy to be snobby though & when you are in a concert (particulary a summer outdoor one) it never ceases to move me when the masses join in with the “COME ON”!! & Michael like an electric eel doing his Elvis.
    Oh & Kirsten, that video…..!!…oxygen mask, quick!!

  29. Kirsten Says:

    I knew I wouldn’t be the only one Clare….

  30. Paul Alferink Says:

    As for what an agit was, I thought it was a small gemstone. I was wrong. I was thinking agate.

    My new theory is that it is short for agitprop, which is propaganda.

  31. Mr Cup Says:

    It IS just a song.
    They are all just songs.
    This for me is akin to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in as much it lifts you to the heavens and never really releases you. Each rising chorus lifting you further with each breath.

    As the versus focus on the seemingly minutiae, the chorus opens up all time and space and you glimpse and hold eternity, as if you dissolve into the fabric of the music and relinquish listening, giving the experience of the moment.

    The darkness illuminated.
    Moses, Newton, Asps, evolution.
    Faith. Skepticism. Wrestling.
    Everything is important.
    Nothing is important.

    To the swings.

  32. jim jos Says:

    played automatic for the people last night, love it as much as ever.

    Church are good and, sadly, kind of forgotten in the US.
    Under the Milky Way and The One I love came out at around the same time, Joshua Tree, 1987 was a good year as far as all these bands that had been building up followings and got their big mainstream break through hit.

    Wish I knew what you were looking for,
    might have known what you would find.
    a simple prop to occupy my time
    where the streets have no name….

  33. Mr Cup Says:

    The Church were good and could have conquered the world. They chose a different path.

    See the shapes
    that bind the men
    Can you taste their lonely


  34. Figgy Says:

    “My new theory is that it is short for agitprop, which is propaganda.”

    YOUR new theory, Paul? Are you sure you didn’t get it from the lyric annotations website?

    Looking up the word online, I’ve also found it can mean “A Cross Reference of Latin and Greek Elements”. I think your theory is more apt though.

    Overall, Matthew’s review of MOTM has been great for vocabulary building. That’s my ineffable feeling anyway.

  35. Paul Alferink Says:

    Actually, no. I haven’t really checked out that link. I was bored at work, and looked it up. Didn’t mean anything. Then I looked for the word that I thought it was “agate.” then I looked up all the words that started with agit. That was the only one that made sense. Guess it’s time to click on the link.

  36. Figgy Says:

    Heh heh, just pulling your leg, Paul. I was pretty sure that you’d arrived at the agitprop idea yourself but do check out the link. I have used both this blog and the lyric annotations site to get a good overall appreciation of all the songs Matthew’s reviewed.
    (Not that I’m claiming I discovered the annotations site! – there’s a link to it from this page under Blogroll on the right hand side courtesy of Matthew)

  37. Kirsten Says:

    I’ve had no idea what you were all talking about. I’ve just had to look up where in the song this word “agit” (whatever it means) actually is. I was horrified to discover it was in such an obvious place in the song. I thought those words were “Here’s a little legend for the never believer”. Wow. I’ll have to go home and listen to it ’cause that doesn’t even sound close….

  38. Figgy Says:

    To be honest, Kirsten, I thought the word was “legend” too until I read the lyrics. I thought it was legend in the sense of key information that accompanies a map or illustration.

    Add that to your book of misheard REM lyrics!

  39. Mr Cup Says:

    It’s naturall to ‘arrive’ at a word that makes sense when a word is used that you’ve never heard before, and cannot find in any dictionary.

    I thought it was legend until I saw the Automatic deluxe box and it was printed there.

    I think there is an Indian cricketer called Agit. Maybe it’s Ajit???

  40. Kirsten Says:

    I thought it was Legend in the sense of Religion. As in Myths & Legends, not Maps & Legends!
    Strange we both thought it was the same word especially when it doesn’t sound anything like how (I presume) agit is pronounced. Maybe it’s a Southern USA accent thing. Or maybe because of all the “legends” mentioned in the song – Kaufman, Darwin, Newton etc.

  41. Figgy Says:

    I think both interpretations of “legend” work quite well in the context of the song. But that’s irrelevant now that we’ve been told the word is “agit”. Still, it’s gonna take a bit of effort not to sing along with “legend” when I hear the song again. Old habits die hard.

  42. maclure Says:

    Agit. I’ve arrived at this discussion a bit late, so sorry for repeating anything anyone has said above. I had a long chat about agit with someone a while back. I teach English for my sins at times, and I used a subtitled Man on the Moon video in a lesson once. “What’s agit, teacher?” was a popular question that day. Isn’t it the noun root of the verb agitate? The context being “Here’s an agit for the never believer”…. “Here’s a thing that that will cause you to think about your assumptions, you never believer”. Perhaps its Stipe creating nouns again. Leaving was never my proud. We are concern.

  43. Figgy Says:

    Nice comment, maclure. Whether “agit” is the noun root or short for agitation propaganda doesn’t really matter – both explanations express the idea of stirring up the audience and making them think about what’s being said.

    Being a tutor myself, I also appreciate your classroom anecdote – I know how it feels to field a tricky question! Rather you than me that day.

  44. ScottMalobisky Says:

    that is EXACTLY what I was thinking maclure (!!), that was my only working guess on what it could mean (having neglected THIS TIME to look at the annotations link..)

  45. Mr Cup Says:

    I think it’s a nice twist on the usual questioning role, where science usually asks religion to prove itself. With the agit, religion asks science a sort of ‘explain that then’ type of question.

    Then again, maybe it happens all the time.

  46. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Andy de vine
    Had a thong rind
    It was sublime
    But the wrong kind
    Have I aligned
    With a blown mind
    Wasted my time
    On a drawn blind

    Oh Andy…….

  47. Mr Cup Says:

    When I was travelling through Turkey, I was on an 8 hour bus trip and desperately, desperately needing a toilet after 6 hours. We eventually come to a rest stop and I break the record for the 100 metre sprint running to the facilties, only to find the entire toilet block overflowing with water. There is nowhere else to go.

    That vision of heaven quickly turned to hell.
    2 more hours on the bus, holding on.

  48. ScottMalobisky Says:

    The Agit Of Fatima

    …and I saw Chris Angel on TV today walking on water in a swimming pool , when he got part of the way across he let his one sandal slip off and sink to the bottom so as to prove there was no hidden surface there ….Nothing blows my mind more than the cream of the crop magicians , how DO they seemingly defy the laws of physics ? Really makes me feel small, insignificant, useless, boring, and completely out of the loop.

  49. Mr Cup Says:

    Smoke, mirrors and clever editing!

  50. ScottMalobisky Says:

    I take it that was a #2 Mr.Cup ?..otherwise it woulda been a doable situation , no ?…and there’s no way you (I) coulda held on for two more hours if it was a #1 !!

  51. ScottMalobisky Says:

    No ,I really don’t think so–not all the time, yes ,some of it is very slick illusion but a lot of it cannot be explained by illusion unless there are a lot of other folks in collusion with the act which I don’t think is the case , Man, David Blane too; and I’ve seen magicians up close and it is truly inexplicable some of the things they APPARENTLY do !!!

  52. Mr Cup Says:

    Yes, #2.

    They are entertainers. I haven’t seen anyone live as it were. I have seen the ‘mindfreak’ on TV which automatically excludes anything broaching reality in my book. Especially reality TV.

  53. Mr Cup Says:

    I would rather watch the Krusty Demons.

  54. Kirsten Says:

    So you actually believe he was walking on water Bisky??

  55. ScottMalobisky Says:

    there were other people in the pool in awe …so if he wasn’t really doing it that would mean that all these people in the water expressing amazement and all would be part of the act , and the camera crew, and the network, etc..Like when David Blane walks down the street in NYC and stops in front of a group of people and levitates for them –spontaneously , not knowing these people, –and they are totally freaking out …….So , are you saying that these people are part of the act ? The crew ? the network ? I refuse to believe at this time (not quite yet) that the workings of the world are THAT nefarious …….And listening to Chris Angel, the guy seems so sincere and genuine !!!, talking about how he likes to inspire people to better themselves , to “do the impossible” in their lives via his act……I just can’t believe that the world is quite that fucked up !!! I refuse to , I couldn’t handle it .

  56. ScottMalobisky Says:

    It was on Oprah , for Chrissakes !!, it wasn’t reality TV , Oprah wouldn’t try to mislead me ,would she ??!!

  57. ScottMalobisky Says:

    and if it was an incredible illusion , the quesion still stands , how the hell are they doing it ? creating the illusion when you of sound mind and good eye are looking right at it ?’s still legitimately mind-boggling in that sense even if it is an illusion

  58. Kirsten Says:

    Well then, if it was on Oprah….

    Now the more interesting question is why were you watching Oprah??
    Hmmm, the mystery of Bisky continues.

  59. Mr Cup Says:

    Life as we percieve it is one big illusion. The most persistant illusion I think Einstein called it.

    Apt that this should come up for this song which is full of questions.

    Do you believe they put a man on the moon? Or was it just a film set?
    (Ok I know the conspiracy theory is out of the bag.)

    The Game of Life.

  60. Mr Cup Says:

    ..and yeah..Oprah?

  61. Kirsten Says:

    If you believe there’s nothing up my sleeve

  62. ScottMalobisky Says:

    BTW , Capricorn One—the movie- was Mars , not the moon

    yes I do believe they put a man on the moon , and Buzz Aldrin claims that they were shadowed during the trip there (the first ones to land on the moon) by a UFO..(!!)..and that’s another story…….They all saw it very clearly outside of their ship but no one wanted to say anything on the radio transmission—it was disclosed by Buzz a couple of years ago– so as not to alarm mission control or the country !!!!!!!!!

  63. Mr Cup Says:

    Nothing up THEIR sleeve…those tricksters!

  64. ScottMalobisky Says:

    Life was a cool game I used to play it ……yeah yeah yeah yeah………

  65. Mr Cup Says:

    I like this story, even if it is false:

    It’s well known that astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first remark on the moon was, “That’s one small step for a man…” Was is less well known is a brief statement said half under his breath when he was re-entering the lunar capsule after the first moon-walk. He said, “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.” That part wasn’t on the major network feeds and was only heard by a few journalists who later listened to the complete tapes.

    Over the years, Armstrong was occasionally asked about this remark, to which he’d always say that it was a private remark he didn’t care to talk about. Then, about a year ago, he was asked again by a journalist. He said something to the effect, “Well, OK, they’re dead now and no harm can be done.”

    So it seems that when Armstrong was a young boy, there was a Jewish couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky, who lived next door. One day, young Neil was out playing ball with his brother and one of them hit the ball into the Gorsky’s back yard. Neil ran into the yard to get the ball and from an open window heard Mrs. Gorsky yelling at Mr. Gorsky, “Oral sex—ORAL SEX YOU WANT!!! You’ll get oral sex the day the kid next door walks on the moon!”

  66. Kirsten Says:

    One day about 2 weeks ago there were about 15 stars in the sky and they were all moving across the sky in different directions. Not shooting stars – they were moving a lot slower than that. This went on for about 30 mins.
    About a month before that there were 2 giant fireballs in the sky. I thought they were meteors until one of them stopped and the other leap-frogged over it. Then that one stopped and the first one leap-frogged under that one. They did this 3 or 4 times before they both shot straight up into the sky and out of sight. None of this was on the news.
    Spaceships? Aliens? Don’t know, but it looked really cool.

  67. Mr Cup Says:

    As Arthur C Clarke says:

    Whether we’re alone or not alone, either alternative is amazing.

  68. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Space . . . The final frontier . . .

  69. lenny Says:

    Space travel would have never been possible without Newton getting beaned by that apple, good.

  70. lenny Says:

    For a third time, Bisky… OPRAH???

    Maybe he tuned in thinking that he might see Barack Obama dancing — oh wait, that was on Ellen.

  71. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    I fear Oprah, I sometimes think she may single-handedly be responsible for the decline of modern civilization. I hope she never decides to run for President of the USA as she would win and I may have to emigrate to Canada.

  72. maclure Says:

    Ditto BWD. Except that already living outside the USA, I would have to emigrate to another planet or perhaps the moon, if I believe they put a man there before, why not me?

    I havent been able to read all the comments everywhere (particularly that gargantuan These Days thread). Have we talked about the new map on remhq which locates where people look at the website from? I seem to represent the entire North East of Brazil. There is one flag in central Australia – is that you Kirsten? Nobody in Africa at all – I’m sure somebody in South Africa must be an REM fan?

  73. Paul Alferink Says:

    Oprah wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, we’d have to read “Love in the Time of Cholera” by next Thursday, and I hate magical realism as a literary genre, but maybe she’s hold her first press conference and tell all of America to look under their seat. And BAM! Free cars for everyone!

  74. Ignis Sol Says:

    I like “Love in the Time of Cholera,” Paul A. I can see what you mean about magical realisim. It can be a bit much sometimes.

  75. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    It can be good though, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is excellent.

  76. 2d Says:

    i love magical realism! i practically choose to see reality as being part of that genre 🙂 or better yet, magical surrealism – given that my favourite movies are “le fabuleux destin d’amelie poulain” and “the fountain”, and my favourite book is boris vian’s “l’ecume des jours”… and my favourite band is r.e.m.! 😉

  77. 2d Says:

    “In this friendly, friendly world
    With each night so full of dreams
    Why should any heart be afraid?”

  78. Paul Alferink Says:

    I loved Amelie. That, however, isn’t magical realism, more coincidence and Amelie overactive imagination from not having a friends.
    1000 Years of Solitude and “Like Water for Chocolate” That is magical realism. Horrible, Horrible Magical Realism.

    The Fountain was pretty and promising, but ultimately unsatisfying.

    I never read “Beloved.” I think we got assigned a different Toni Morrison novel, but I can’t remember what that was.

  79. Kirsten Says:

    Hey maclure, that’s really cool! I’ve never even noticed that map before. I can’t click on it to make it bigger though – work’s computer is blocking it for some reason. However, I check their website pretty much daily, so that’s probably me on the far south-eastern corner. Can’t see anything in the west there Mr Cup. You’re not doing you bit for getting the tour here!

  80. Paul Alferink Says:

    Oh, and “The Hudsucker Proxy” complete lost me with the clock think. Great movie, otherwise. God I love the Coen Brothers.

    “Here’s a picture of my invention”


    “It’s for kids!”

  81. Bruno Says:

    Well I missed the Church talk

    ‘Why are these buildings swaying like trees?
    Can we stop for awhile?’

    Oh, and those guitars!

  82. Bruno Says:

    Hi to all the people who are selling me
    Here’s one straight from the factory

  83. Bruno Says:

    Cut my losses – grow my hair

  84. Bruno Says:

    Beyond this City
    And even in dust

  85. Bruno Says:

    I loved them – cool vocals, way cool guitars. Weird slithering snake sounds. Very trippy stuff. Like a real Riptide.

  86. Mr Cup Says:

    I have seen the map at HQ. I had to draw a dot on myself though!

    How would you guys describe Murakami?
    Magical ennui?

    Had you coiled around my arm.
    How could you ever know
    How I loved your diamond eyes?
    But that was long ago

  87. Bruno Says:

    Ah ok, the Aussie map and we’re spotting each of those of you on it. There you are! But damn, I’m still stuck on Stephen Kilby and his wandering bass.

    OK, watch out for those rattlesnakes down there friends.

    ‘You lie – there’s nothing inside
    Always at the church but never the bride…’

  88. Mr Cup Says:

    We have plenty of things that can kill you, we don’t however have rattlesnakes Bruno.

    No-one writes songs about Dugites, Tiger Snakes and King Browns.

    ….i see you flicker away with your skin and your scale…..

    That could be the generic snake song though.

  89. ScottMalobisky Says:

    uh, it was a commercial on Lou Dobbs tonight, uh , was switching through the channels

  90. Kirsten Says:

    LOL. Nice try Scott.

  91. Mr Cup Says:

    Ellen. Oprah.
    Honestly, doesn’t anyone watch Dr Phil anymore?

  92. jim jos Says:

    this has got to be the most random, free associative bunch of collected thought of any song covered yet! Brilliant!

    True R.E.M. fans are not dull or uncreative which is a beautiful thing.

    I feel like I could say anything and it will find a place in everyone’s catch all soup here.

    Actually, I made a list, of things to say, but all I really want to say is….

    I spent a good deal of time at work trying to come up with a title for the new R.E.M. album.

    Which proves

    1. I am a slacker
    2. I haven’t changed much in all these years.
    3. After an hour or so I couldn’t come up with anything that I liked.
    4. Pretty much sums up my life.

    Off to go listen to the Church and look at the moon and think about Oprah as president and ponder whether or not that Neil Armstrong quote was legit (agit) or not.

  93. Ignis Sol Says:

    it would be cool if Michael stipe had his own talks show, we could call it “What’s Your Gripe? w. Michael Stipe” or Peter: “What the Fuck? w. Peter Buck” Don’t have one for Mike Mills or Bill Berry.

  94. Mr Cup Says:

    I laughed out loud!
    too funny.

  95. Mr Cup Says:

    Know your Cherry w. Bill Berry

  96. Kirsten Says:

    Yeah, I’ve got customers looking at me funny too!
    Cheap Thrills w. Mike Mills?

  97. Mr Cup Says:

    Watertower thrills w. Mike Mills

  98. Kirsten Says:

    We should’ve had this conversation on New Test Leper.

  99. Mr Cup Says:

    here’s a little ghost for the offering

  100. Mr Cup Says:

    I was listening to “almost with you”, then listen to MOTM.
    they have a very similar ‘stick click tappy percussion thing’ happening.

    Wonder if the boys will bust out a bagpipe solo on the new record?

  101. Kirsten Says:

    You got the 100 AGAIN Mr Cup! How do you keep doing that?

  102. Mr Cup Says:

    Patience and timing Kirsten.

    I left it open for you, then just went for glory. Sort of guy I am!

  103. Kirsten Says:

    Typical male.

  104. […] In the time I was there, I noticed that there were a handful of R.E.M. songs in rotation: “Man On The Moon,” “Shiny Happy People,” “Everybody Hurts,” and, uh, “(Don’t Go […]

  105. […] a moment halfway through “Around The Sun” where the tune could either get bigger, like “Man On The Moon,” or sorta drift away into a gentle reverie. They opt for the latter, and though it’s […]

  106. […] continuity with the band’s hit of the same name does not seem like an accident. Whereas “Man On The Moon” grounds the spiritual quest of its agnostic protagonist in folksy chords and country […]

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