Permanent Vacation

February 18, 2008

“Permanent Vacation” dates back to R.E.M.’s earliest days as a local party band. There’s a lot of other songs from that period that will not be covered on this site, but “Permanent Vacation” makes the cut mainly because for some reason, the band chose to rescue it from obscurity, and made it a setlist staple on their last two tours. Well, I can guess at the reason — it’s a carefree rave-up and it’s probably fun to play, it’s a way of reconnecting with their roots, and it’s a treat for the geeks who’ve got all the old bootleg tapes.  It’s cute. But if we’re being very honest about this, it’s not much of a song. At best, it’s a fun bit of juvenelia, and at worst, it’s just a party rocker by numbers. There’s nothing in particular to dislike about it, and it zooms by awfully quickly, but I’d be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t resent that I’ve seen the band play this song, but I’ve never seen them perform a single track from Murmur.

36 Responses to “Permanent Vacation”

  1. maclure Says:

    Whoop! First- you’re on fire MP!
    I’m sorry I have nothing to say about this song whatsoever.

  2. Mr Cup Says:

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song.
    Not live, not on any bootleg. Not down the supermarket. Nada.

  3. You can get it in the iTunes session from around the time Around The Sun came out, and it’s on the Perfect Square dvd.

  4. 2d Says:

    ha i love the “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell” part actually 😀

    it’s wacky and playful, reminds me a lot of “just a touch”.

  5. Kirsten Says:

    >>the geeks who’ve got all the old bootleg tapes.

    Hey, that’s me!!

    I love this song. I’m well aware that it’s not the most brilliant thing ever written, but it is so much fun! I always get really excited when I hear it – it’s so full of energy. Great fun to sing and dance along to. Second both of 2d’s comments. And for the record, this song is one of the highlights from those old scratchy bootlegs from 1982….

    Dancing in my office as we speak.

  6. Jerad Says:

    Indeed, this song is a whole lot of fun. I love when they are playing it live, and during the solo Peter and Scott stand side-by-side facing the audience and play it together.

    As for hearing things off of Murmur…discounting the fun at last year’s Dublin rehearsals, one of the highlights from all the R.E.M. shows I’ve seen since ’95 is hearing “Pilgrimage” in Philadelphia in 1999.

  7. ScottMalobisky Says:

    jimjos, didn’t they play this during the encore in Atlanta October 11 , 2003 ?

    Aerosmith got an album called Permanent Vacation.
    Think Dude Looks Like A Lady is on that one.

  8. Kirsten Says:

    They played Pilgrimage in Melbourne on the ATS tour. One of the absolute highlights as it is one of my favourite songs. Felt like they were playing it just for me. 🙂 Don’t remember them playing this one, though.

  9. Scott Says:

    Matthew, I assume you already have a boot of the show at which the band played all of “Green” and then all of “Murmur.” If you don’t, I can send it your way.

  10. DJ Says:

    Of course getting a bootleg is not the same as being there for a show…….. not that my opinion means anything.

  11. Paul Alferink Says:

    I heard Pilgramage in 1999. Come on, REM. How about We Walk or “Shaking Through” this time around? I’ve heard Radio Free Europe on enough later live stuff, and Perfect Circle with Tourfilm . . .

  12. Mr Cup Says:

    What was the date of that show and where was it (murmur-green)?
    I can’t go through life not hearing it – it would have been great.

  13. 2d Says:


    atlanta 13 november 1989

    i have a copy of the show with not-so-great-but-ok-quality if you are interested 🙂

  14. 2d Says:

    i think they should do a similar thing now and play “document” and “accelerate” back to back, track by track. that would be awesome.

  15. milesy Says:

    OK, this is great fun, and I just enjoyed PV on YouTube- but coming so hot on the heels of Shaking Through means I feel the need to encourage everyone to go back to the previous thread to give that song some more of the feedback it deserves…

  16. Mr Cup Says:

    Yessir, I’m interested. Is it mp3???

  17. dumbek Says:

    Love it. Love it. Love it. I almost peed myself when they broke out this one. Holy cow – what a surprise. Nothing at all wrong with the occasional “party rocker by the numbers”. Frankly, REM needs to get back to more of these dance-party rave-ups. Let’s rock.

  18. adam Says:

    in the old days.. they would close the show with a host of covers and silly songs… great for everyone

  19. 2d Says:

    mr cup.

    here are “murmur” and “green” parts, still have to upload the encore. will do that a bit later as it’s taking forever on my slow internet.

    the “green” one also features “we live as we dream, alone” before “world leader pretend” so that’s why there are 12 tracks.




  20. 2d Says:

    oh, and it appears i don’t have “fall on me” from the encore… sorry 😦

    will upload the rest soon enough though 🙂

  21. 2d Says:

    (the comment with the links is awaiting moderation it seems)

  22. Ben Says:

    “jimjos, didn’t they play this during the encore in Atlanta October 11 , 2003 ?”

    I was at that show, and they absolutely played it WITH BILL BERRY ON DRUMS!

    A pretty awesome moment, I must say.

  23. 2d Says:

    and here is the encore, minus “fall on me” 🙂

  24. […] Permanent Vacation “Permanent Vacation” dates back to R.E.M.’s earliest days as a local party band. There’s a lot […] […]

  25. Mr Cup Says:

    2d – thanks so very much.
    Downloading as we speak.
    How do I get a beer uploaded to you?

  26. ScottMalobisky Says:

    WHAT ? I don’t remember BB on the drums !! what , just that one song ?

  27. Kirsten Says:

    LOL Mr Cup. Just spilt my tea – thanks 🙂

  28. jim jos Says:

    yeah, Ben, this was played at that show!
    but, not with Bill that night. It was the night before that Bill played drums on it. I remember really having a hunch that Bill would join them for this night, since he had joined them again the night before in NC, and the Atlanta show was only about an hour away from Bills farm, and the last night of the US leg of the tour. I was telling people “yeah, I think Bill will be here tonight…”
    but I was wrong…would have loved for that to happen. Also thought they might drop in since they were going to be in Athens that next day, I was at the 40 Watt Club and had a hunch that they would be there, but again, no.

    Also, my write in song to REMHQ was At My Most Beautiful, which they played. That was very classy of them, that you could request a song that they would play that night.

  29. jim jos Says:


    Matthew and gang you must all check out this. I was reading it and laughing my ass off then I saw the nod to Fluxblog.

  30. 2d Says:

    Kirsten, don’t you mean you spilled your cup? 😉

    MrC, it’s ok. now if you’ll just sign on the dotted line at the bottom of the page, we can proceed with your lifetime of slavery. 😀

    20.02.2008 …………….

  31. Mr Cup Says:

    aw man…I already live in a penal colony…no fair!

    Is this slavery with a mattress of straw and rats for food or slavery with one of those leather masks with a zip?

  32. 2d Says:

    the penal colony was a sign from the start – this is your destiny, and you should embrace it as such.

    as for the typological issue, i am a merciful master. you may choose between the two 😀

  33. Ben Says:

    “but, not with Bill that night. It was the night before that Bill played drums on it. ”

    My bad. That’s what happens when I go to two shows, and then they fuse together in my head.

    Although that makes sense, now that I stop to think about it because I do remember being freezing cold at the NC show because I got soaked in the rain.

  34. Kirsten Says:

    Slavery? Sounds like a typical Saturday night……

  35. 2d Says:

    i start on friday 😀

  36. DJ Says:

    Gee, I saw this song AND Pilgrimage played in the same set, does that mean I win? Or do I still lose due to the fact I didn’t hear about your site until today on the HQ?

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