CoS Exclusive FeaturesHotList 'Em Carefully

What’s Michael Stipe Singing on R.E.M.’s Murmur?

on April 11, 2013, 11:00am
view all

remmurmur Whats Michael Stipe Singing on R.E.M.s Murmur?

If you can legitimately love, love, an album, then I most certainly love R.E.M.’s Murmur. I’ve traveled everywhere with it, and have listened to the band’s 1983 debut hundreds of times over the years. It props me up when I’m down and keeps me level when I’m up. I know every Bill Berry drum fill, every guitar sound emitting from Peter Buck’s Rickenbacker, and every intricate bass line and harmony courtesy of Mike Mills. As for R.E.M.’s front man, Michael Stipe, his lyrics on this and other early R.E.M. albums remind me of extended family members. I love them; I just don’t understand what they’re saying most of the time.

I’ve heard songs from Murmur in various forms (live boots, alternate versions, demos, covers, etc.), but what Michael Stipe is or isn’t singing remains the album’s great mystery. The words are left open for the listener to discern, but perhaps I’ve been overanalyzing them this entire time. I knew what I had to do: bring in fellow writers, Dan Caffrey and Dan Pfleegor.

These two gentlemen are novices when it comes to R.E.M., having heard very little, if any, of Murmur over the years. After e-mailing each writer the same specific moments from certain Murmur songs, I requested that they listen to each section no more than twice before attempting to write down what they just heard, followed by a brief explanation of what it could all mean.

What follows is a genuine, fresh perspective on a universally, acclaimed classic. So kick back and prepare to celebrate 30 years of Murmur with Gumby, Kindergarten Cop, Busch Gardens, and Jaws: The Revenge references. Don’t ask. Just read.

- Justin Gerber
Senior Staff Writer

* “Perfect Circle” not included. Those lyrics are pretty easy to figure out. 

view all

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Ryan Flood
April 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Decide yourself if radio’s gonna stay
Reason, it could polish up the grey
Put that up, put that up, put that up, you all.
That this is a country at all

John Marz
April 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Even Michael Stipe does not know what he mumbled on that record !!! I remember years later when he need someone to write him cue cards for MTV Unplugged (or some other defunct show) … who cares a million years later anyway. Thank God they finally gave up and stopped making new records…the last four or five are coasters when my guests come over for happy hour. These guys stopped making great music when Bill Berry almost died and left the band. They should have broken up on New Year’s Eve 2000 like they promised their fans in the beginning…instead of the slow slide to mediocrity…

April 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Heh heh page 2 can’t do it. Valiantly played but play-by-play editorial not singing for me, I have to go listen to it now… Great album!

Etai Palombo-Weissman
April 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm

One of greatest debut albums ever


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,830 other followers