Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., is known for his poetic, but sometimes cryptic lyrics. Having submitted myself to a week-long R.E.M. marathon in memory of their breakup, I discovered that there are some songs R.E.M. lyrics that are bizarre, incomprehensible, and just plain weird:
R.E.M. Lyrics – Hygiene
1. “And you’re drifting off to sleep, with your teeth in your mouth.” (“You Are the Everything”) – When asked about this line, Michael Stipe said, “When you just wake up and your body is in that paralyzed state and you’re not sure you’re awake; and grinding your teeth together or biting down hard is the first acknowledgment that this is real life, not a dream.” So it’s not about dentures.
2. “She’s a real woman-child / Oh my kiss breath turpentine” (“Crush With Eyeliner”). Courtney Love apparently thought this song was about her. Which means, um, her breath usually smells like turpentine…
3. “I would lick your feet / But is that the sickest move?” (“E-Bow The Letter”, 1996). Yes, yes it is.
4. “Someone put a pox on me / I’ll spit in their eye” (“Summer Turns To High”)
5. “There’s someone in our dreams / In our preassembled dream / Lord! Dave! William!” (“Just A Touch”)
6. “When I lay myself to sleep pray that I don’t go too deep /Lightnin’ won, lightnin’ won / Because it’s cold down, gold down there, crow!” (“Lightnin’ Hopkins”)
7. “Mine smell like honey, uh! Mine smell like honey, uh! / Mine smell like hu – hu – hu – hu – honey, uh!” (“Mine Smell Like Honey”).
Stating the Obvious
8. “So happy to show us / I ate the lotus. / say haven’t you noticed? /I ate the lotus.” (“Lotus”) – Here Stipe seems proud of the fact that he has eaten said lotus, but is a bit perturbed that he hasn’t gotten the recognition he rightly deserves.
9. “Your grass is grassy wet / Your light white is bright / Light white light” (“Low”)
10. “I’m not the king of comedy / Grease the pig, give a squeeze (squeeze me)” (“King Of Comedy”) – This verse sounds like something from a county fair, doesn’t it?
11. “Your hate clipped and distant/ Your luck a two-headed cow” (“Pilgrimage”) – This does too.
12. “We’ve got to moogie, moogie, move on this one” (The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite) – According to Wikipedia, Moogie is a nickname for Ishka, the mother of Quark and Rom and widow of Geldar (from Deep Space 9). No, I don’t think that’s the context either. Stipe is clearly using it as a verb.
Just Plain Silly Lyrics
13. “I feel like an alligator / Climbing up the escalator” (“Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter”)
14. “Women got legs, men got pants/I got the picnic, you got the ants” (“Burning Hell”) What is this, a junior high cheer? Go, Anteaters!
Stream of consciousness?
15. “Postcard stowaway within/Pristine indigo without/Banded ottoman as such/Sofa seated one too much/All along the range, all along the range” (“Ages Of You”)
16. “Up to par and Katie bars a kitchen-size, but not me in / A sitting trap for the big kill, a waste of time sitting still” (“Sitting Still”) – This doesn’t make much more sense than my initial interpretation of the lyrics, which was something like “Up to pie Katie passa kitchen sins from Nightienne / Sitting tight from the begin, wasting time sitting still.”
The Whole Damn Song is Weird
17. “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. Sample: “Feed it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength, no / Ladder start to clatter with fear fight down height.”
18. “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Sample: “You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh / I never understood the frequency, uh-huh”
19. “Swan Swan H” Sample: “Swan Swan Hummingbird / Hurrah, we are all free now / What noisy cats are we / Girl and dog he bore his cross”
Yeah, no clue.
20. “He had a dream one night / That the tree had lost its middle / So he built a trunk of chicken wire / To try to hold it up / But the wire, the wire turned to lizard skin / And when he climbed inside /There wasn’t even time to say / Goodbye to Wendell Gee” (“Wendell Gee”)
21. “I’ve got my telescope head in the haystack / I’m getting tired of your dodgeball circus act / Put pepper in my coffee, I forgot to bark on command” (“Circus Envy”). Also contains a line that gets an honorable mention: “The strong man kicked sand into my breakfast cereal bowl / I’d spelled your name with Oatios”