The goal of this blog is very simple: I am going to write a post about every song on every R.E.M. album, plus most of their major non-album tracks. I have no idea how long this will take, especially since I will be following an irregular schedule. Some weeks I might have ten posts, some weeks it might be one, or zero. We’ll see how it goes — this is basically a side project, so it won’t have the same priority as Fluxblog, or my paying assignments. One way or another, I intend to get to all of them — my favorites, the ones I never think about, and the ones I don’t like very much. Some posts will be very brief, others might be kinda long. I’ll probably play around with the style and approach over time. I’ll be covering the songs in an arbitrary order based on whim and inspiration at any given moment.

You might be wondering — why R.E.M.? Well, for one thing, I have a very long history as an R.E.M. fan, and I’ve known a majority of their catalog for about fifteen years. In that time, their songs have become tied to countless memories from my adolescence on through my late 20s, and in doing this project, I get to examine the way some songs get stuck in one particular meaning that is tied up in my own biography, and others find a new relevance in my life as I grow older. That’s the personal side of this project, anyway.

The other major goal is to explore R.E.M.’s discography in depth with a focus on individual compositions rather than albums in order to break out of the familiar narrative that dogs most discussion of their work, and get into the real reason why I think they are one of the best bands in pop history — they’ve just written a staggering number of incredible songs, and I want to examine each one on their own merits.

60 Responses to “About”

  1. uwmryan Says:

    What a GREAT idea. I’m looking forward to reading as this progresses.

  2. rob mccolley Says:

    a music critic/friend pointed me to this blog.

    i, too, am eager to see how it comes across. i have particularly Strong Views about “fables.” (oops, i can’t italicize here.)

    some friends and i once successfully cajoled the entire band into playing “life and how to live it” after a four-year lapse.

    do you know the story of “life and how to live it?”

  3. Ana Bean Says:

    yeah, great one. I think the more you enjoy the song, the more difficult it gets to write about it.
    looking forward to MY fave ones.

  4. Hiram Says:

    This is wonderful, Matthew. I’m glad you’re doing this. Thanks.

  5. Beth Says:

    You’re my hero.

  6. tyrah Says:

    Great, I really like it.
    Thanks and go on πŸ™‚

  7. Bree Says:

    Thanks for doing this, Matthew. Your writing is so thoughtful and balanced, and it’s evoking many luscious memories for me. I’ve been listening to them again recently after putting ’em away for a spell, and this site is helping me notice wonderful new little nuances in some old faves. I blogged my personal ranking of their albums a few years ago (don’t know if I’d choose the same order today or not) – check it out if you’d like.
    (best viewed in Mac Safari, not ’cause I want to plug apple, but because I’m terrible at writing code!)

    Good luck in this ambitious (yet delightfully relaxed) project!


  8. morewordsaboutmusic Says:

    To say that I’m enjoying this would be a huge understatement. It’s a brilliant idea and I can’t wait for you to get to a few of my personal favorite gems. (I know, I know…everyone says that. But we all mean it. So that must count for something.)

    Anyway, you inspired me to give similar treatment to the Talking Heads catalogue:

    Not much so far, but I’d like to turn mine into a band-history-wide resource, just as yours is going to be. It’d be great if more people did stuff like this and we could have some very comprehensive sites about many different important artists.

  9. ozon Says:

    I’m really enjoying this so far. Keep up the good work.

  10. Jon Martin Says:

    What a fantastic project! I’ve just begun a similar project, though it’s not focused on any particular band but rather my own biography. At the moment, I’m in the process of opening it up to some friends and acquaintances. It’s called Songs That Saved Your Life (I’m a slight Smiths fan), and the link is above.

    Anyway, I didn’t really come here to plug my site, but to salute you on a really great looking project. I’ve enjoying reading your entries, and I’m looking forward to the future. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  11. Frances Says:

    What a great idea! I am really enjoying it so far.
    I am looking forward to many a good read on this blog.
    Thanks for doing this.

  12. Rick M Says:

    What a fantastic idea. Great blog for a great band. Keep it up. πŸ™‚

  13. Maurizio Says:

    Why don’t you give “Falls to Climb” a try

  14. I’ll get to that one before too long, Maurizio.

  15. Mary Lou Kylis Says:

    I have been a fan of R.E.M.for over half my life now. THIS is a web site I will truly ejoy.

    You MUST see Patti Smith someday. She is a huge influence on their work and I promise you it will be an experience you will never forget!

    Thank you! I will happily be checking in on this site quite often!

  16. Mary Lou Kylis Says:

    That’s ENJOY, not ejoy!!!( Two full time jobs, a theater company and NO sleep!)

  17. Kevin McGlinchey Says:

    Hat’s off to Matthew! As another longtime R.E.M. fan, I salute your concept and wish you the best with its execution.

  18. Suedehead Says:

    Hello, I find your blog by chance.

    I like R.E.M. very much, especially the IRS records, and I like your ambitious project very much! πŸ˜€

    Bye! πŸ˜‰

  19. David Roberts Says:

    How about focusing on the great last song programme for a while? Falls to Climb, Find The River etc etc

  20. Matthew Says:

    Thank you for this, i was sitting at home bored with a general im discontent with everything mentality i need to look for something refreshing to read, and then this was on the front page of Murmurs so thank you for rescuing my night.

  21. lesterhead Says:

    wow…this site is amazing.

  22. Nicole Says:

    Go Matthew!!! I found out about your site from REMHQ itself!! You hit the big time now baby! I put you in my favorites.

  23. Brian Says:

    I’m hooked, guess I’ll be hangin’ around. . .kudos!

  24. maggie hodge Says:

    thanks for this thoughtful analysis. As one who is Michael’s age, and who lived in Athens in the early 80’s, it is great to find others who are as into REM as I am. My ultimate stress release is to listen to them with my really good headphones til 2 or 3 in the morning (basically, til I am exhausted). This has helped me through some very upbeat and difficult times.
    Have had the priveledge to go to concerts 5 times; each, an ecstatic experience. Cannot wait until the next opportunity!


  25. Carolann Monroe Says:

    Well, this is the first site i’ve bookmarked in awhile!

    I’m sure you’ll get a lot of these requests– do my favorite songs next! Please, please?

    Kidding. But hey, when you DO get around to them, i’m looking forward to reading your take on “Driver 8” and “So. Central Rain.” For some reason, they’re just two of my very favorites to listen to.

  26. Clive Butler Says:

    I think what you are doing is great and though you write quite critically of some of their songs it is not without complete devotion to the potential that R.E.M. do still have. Far too many fans have no bad words to say about their music, and read all manner of depths into weaker songs like ‘I’ll Take The Rain’ to avoid admiting that they are maybe a band trying too hard to forge new directions.
    Keep up the reviews – all very interesting…



  27. Ophelia Says:

    I am very impressed. This is awesome.

  28. Timb Says:

    Matthew, will you be doing Dead Letter Office as well?

  29. Yeah, by popular demand I will be doing those songs too. I figured out a way to handle it.

  30. lainieb Says:

    Stumbled upon this site in the WordPress hot posts (“Crush With Eyeliner” – had to know what that was all about) So glad I did. R.E.M. makes me very, very happy. Looking forward to reading all of these.

    Can’t wait for the writeup on “Burning Hell”…heehee!

  31. Bunnia Says:

    “A big thanks to Matthew for the blogs. I enjoy reading everything.”

  32. April Says:

    I keep meaning to tell you that this is my favorite site on the internet.

  33. Alex Ezell Says:

    Truly an inspired purpose. Thanks so much for reintroducing me to many of these songs.

  34. Oblique Strategy Says:

    Excellent! I wish I could go back in time and steal this idea. Looking forward to “Voice of Harold” !

  35. Bunnia Says:

    Matthew, will you be doing the little interlude between “Camera” and “Don’t Go Back To Rockville”? It’s obviously not a complete song but I think it’s worthy enough for a mention, as well as the 11th song on “Green” (which is actually a complete song). *smile*

  36. Bunnia Says:

    Hmmm, well I guess not.


  37. Aerothorn Says:

    DAMN! I kind of meant to do this someday, but I’m sure you’ll do it better than I would have.

    I have a fun little personalized write-up of the first half of Monster and what it means to me, though. A piece of writing I’m actually sort of proud of:)

  38. Aerothorn Says:

    Also (apologies for the double post) this is extra-cool for me, as I am 19. And while in Britain, where R.E.M. is, from a sales-per-person view, 20 times more popular than it is here (shocking, I know), kids may listen to it….here they don’t. I’m the only person my age I know who really likes them – everyone else dismisses it as “my parent’s music”. So, never seen anyone else who cared. Nifty to see someone else share the passion.

  39. Martijn Says:

    What a great idea!!!

    I now feel like doing something similar with Blur’s back catalogue πŸ˜›

  40. Jay Says:

    Matthew, thank you so much for doing this. Great to know there are REM fans/writers even more obsessively devoted to REM’s music than I am. Best of luck! Enjoying your words, and I’ll be sure to be reading regularly! I’ve listened to and pondered their music for more than 20 years, so this is a great forum for all of that. Thanks again! (Now, I’m going to send this URL to all the REM fans I know) πŸ˜‰

  41. Young Parisians Says:


    I just discovered this blog via The Cure fansite, “A Chain of Flowers”. Great idea and I dig the writing. Many of the REM songs youve written about so far (i know youre gettin to all of them) are songs i like the least. Which is great! It’s lured me into reading most of your posts. Keep up the good work.

  42. Scott Malobisky Says:

    and how about those other snippets/interludes ??…(just kidding) I’ve also noticed that most of the songs posted aren’t exactly my favorites , have a feeling there is a logical reason for that though..My theory being that you are saving the true most powerful nuggets for last …Just for the record I don’t think that any of the songs you’ve written about so far are even in my personal TOP 25 !!!…well,let me think about that for a moment …yeah.. As much as I’m enjoying THIS , I can’t wait until you get to THEM !!! Totally addicted….Not that it matters or anything but I find myself thinking things like ,”hmnn, I wonder if he has any idea at this point what the last songs will be , or , I wonder if he has rough drafts and thoughts of like a 100 songs laying around or if it’s more like you just start on one and go with it and finish it ….” I don’t really expect you to answer these questions, just speculating …..

  43. Chris Carter Says:

    Sir, you’re a scholar and a gent. I’m a life-long R.E.M. fan and this website is just what the doctor ordered. If it’s of any interest to you, I once wrote a short retrospective of the band which you may (or may not) find of interest:

    I also perform a similar exercise for various other bands, albums, movies or songs here (though sadly I haven’t got round to writing any articles about R.E.M. yet!):


  44. ScottMalobisky Says:

    funny , Cris Carter, your very high praise for Saturn Return as their “most opaque, ambitious , and artistic” track to date, funny and ironic because I that one MAY be Matthew’s least favorite in the canon..

  45. ScottMalobisky Says:

    MY BAG: Upon Further Review
    It’s not Matthew that loathes this song , it’s some of the commentors that loathe it, that’s LOATHE with a capital L and a capital H.

  46. […] Pop Songs 07: “The goal of this blog is very simple: I am going to write a post about every song on every R.E.M. album, plus most of their major non-album tracks.” […]

  47. […] Pop Songs 07 is a blog in which the author promises to “write about every R.E.M. song, eventually.” […]

  48. Lying to the Dead Says:

    This is a great idea! I love REM, they are one of the fondest memories I have from being a child and riding in the back seat of my mother’s old car listening to the radio. I cannot wait to read what you have to say about some of my favorites.

  49. Jay Raymond Says:

    What a great project, this “Pop Songs 07” that I’ve stumbled across!

    I’ve already read your views on selected tracks from “Around The Sun” and while I disagree with you on almost all levels, I find your ideas interesting.

    Looking forward to some interesting reading.

    Good job, so far.

  50. herman Says:

    Good idea!

    IΒ΄m enjoying at as being an old REM-fan.

  51. ellie Says:


    I’m lost for words, actually πŸ˜€

  52. Denise Says:

    Hey Matthew. The Ask Michael questions idea is so cool. I am happy to say my questions were answered but under my two questions it says they were asked by someone named Christopher. It was in #2 and the were about supernatural superserious and sing for the submarine. Any chance that could be fixed? If not it’s just so cool that Michael answered me.

  53. Raphael Says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Great job! Any chance of having all this content in one handy little pdf document? I can help you create the file if you like.

    Best Regards,


  54. ChampionOfTheWorld Says:

    there’s a Cape Perpetua in central Oregon

  55. ChampionOfTheWorld Says:

    a reading from the Gospel Of Matthew…..

  56. Al_Xav Says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Congratulations and thank you so much.

    I was surfing the net looking for a site with explanations on REM’s lyrics but I didn’t expect such a comprehensive archive! What an amazing discovery! it’s like a dream come true. (I teach English as a second language in France and I sometimes use songs for my lessons. Your site is a gold mine for someone like me!)

    Thanks again !


  57. ChampionOfTheWorld Says:

    Γ΄u est la gare ?

  58. Kirk Says:

    Just moved to Western Australia…been following forever. Are the reviews out there still? Cannot find them. Thanks!

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