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R.E.M. - Annotated

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Up until my sophomore year in high school, I still only largely listened to classical music. It wasn't until a friend of mine, Elizabeth, played me some early R.E.M. records (from the IRS era) that I started to get into pop. With their alternative chord arrangements and complex narrative structures, I was immediately hooked. Michael Stipe's humble mumble ...

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R.E.M. - Annotated

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#
Title Artist Album Duration
1
Hairshirt (Remastered)
R.E.M. Green 00:03:57

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - William Berry, ComposerLyricist - SCOTT LITT, Producer - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C., under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

2
Sad Professor
R.E.M. Up 00:04:04

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PAT MCCARTHY, Producer - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

3
Green Grow The Rushes (Remastered)
R.E.M. Fables Of The Reconstruction 00:03:46

Mike Mills, Composer - R.E.M., MainArtist - William T. Berry, Composer - Peter L. Buck, Composer - J. Michael Stipe, Composer - Barry Clempson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tony Harris, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Joe Boyd, Producer - Jerry Boys, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2010 Capitol Records, LLC

4
The Flowers Of Guatemala
R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant 00:03:57

Mike Mills, Composer - R.E.M., MainArtist - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - William T. Berry, Composer - Peter L. Buck, Composer - J. Michael Stipe, Composer - Ross Hogarth, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jim Dineen, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Don Gehman, Producer, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Katayama, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Edward, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rick Fetig, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1986 Capitol Records, LLC

5
Crush With Eyeliner
R.E.M. Monster 00:04:38

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - William Berry, ComposerLyricist - SCOTT LITT, Producer - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc., under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

6
How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us
R.E.M. New Adventures In Hi-Fi 00:04:31

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - William Berry, ComposerLyricist - SCOTT LITT, Producer - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C., under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

7
Sweetness Follows
R.E.M. Automatic For The People (25th Anniversary Edition) 00:04:21

Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - William Berry, ComposerLyricist - SCOTT LITT, Producer

℗ 2017 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C.

8
Untitled (Remastered)
R.E.M. Green 00:03:13

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - William Berry, ComposerLyricist - SCOTT LITT, Producer - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2013 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C., under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

9
Oddfellows Local 151
R.E.M. Document (R.E.M. No. 5) 00:05:20

R.E.M., Producer - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer - Scott Litt, Producer - Scott Litt, Engineer - Gary Laney, Additional Engineer - Steve Catania, Additional Engineer - Todd Sholar, Assistant Engineer - Tom Der, Assistant Engineer - Toni Greene, Assistant Engineer - Ted Pattison, Assistant Engineer

(C) 1987 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1987 Capitol Records, LLC

10
Welcome To The Occupation (Remastered)
R.E.M. Document - 25th Anniversary Edition 00:02:48

Mike Mills, Composer - R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - William T. Berry, Composer - Peter L. Buck, Composer - J. Michael Stipe, Composer - SCOTT LITT, Producer - Robert Vosgien, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2012 Capitol Records, LLC ℗ 2012 Capitol Records, LLC

11
Begin The Begin
R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant 00:03:28

Mike Mills, Composer - R.E.M., MainArtist - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - William T. Berry, Composer - Peter L. Buck, Composer - J. Michael Stipe, Composer - Ross Hogarth, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jim Dineen, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Don Gehman, Producer, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Katayama, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Edward, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rick Fetig, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1986 Capitol Records, LLC

12
Swan Swan H
R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant 00:02:50

Bill Berry, ComposerLyricist - Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ross Hogarth, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jim Dineen, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Don Gehman, Producer, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Katayama, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Edward, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rick Fetig, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1986 Capitol Records, LLC

13
Cuyahoga
R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant 00:04:21

Mike Mills, Composer - R.E.M., MainArtist - Bob Ludwig, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - William T. Berry, Composer - Peter L. Buck, Composer - J. Michael Stipe, Composer - Ross Hogarth, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jim Dineen, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Don Gehman, Producer, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Katayama, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Edward, Mixer, Recorder, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Rick Fetig, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 1986 Capitol Records, LLC

14
Feeling Gravitys Pull (Remastered)
R.E.M. Fables Of The Reconstruction 00:04:50

Bill Berry, ComposerLyricist - Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Barry Clempson, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tony Harris, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Joe Boyd, Producer - Jerry Boys, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2010 Capitol Records, LLC

15
Harborcoat
R.E.M. Reckoning 00:03:56

Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Mitch Easter, Producer - Don A. Dixon, Producer - William Thomas Berry, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1984 I.R.S Records Inc.

16
West Of The Fields
R.E.M. Murmur 00:03:17

Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mitch Easter, Producer - Don A. Dixon, Producer - William Thomas Berry, ComposerLyricist - N. Bogan, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1983 I.R.S Records Inc.

17
Gardening At Night
R.E.M. Chronic Town 00:03:29

Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Mitch Easter, Producer - William Thomas Berry, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1982 I.R.S. Inc.

18
Wolves, Lower
R.E.M. Chronic Town 00:04:09

Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Mitch Easter, Producer - William Thomas Berry, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1982 I.R.S. Inc.

19
You're In The Air
R.E.M. Up 00:05:24

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PAT MCCARTHY, Producer - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

20
Why Not Smile
R.E.M. Up 00:04:03

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PAT MCCARTHY, Producer - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

21
I Wanted To Be Wrong
R.E.M. Around The Sun 00:04:35

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PAT MCCARTHY, Producer - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

22
Beat A Drum
R.E.M. Reveal 00:04:20

R.E.M., Producer, MainArtist - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PAT MCCARTHY, Producer - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Michael Mills, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2014 R.E.M./Athens L.L.C. Under exclusive license to Concord Music Group, Inc.

About Playlist

Up until my sophomore year in high school, I still only largely listened to classical music. It wasn't until a friend of mine, Elizabeth, played me some early R.E.M. records (from the IRS era) that I started to get into pop. With their alternative chord arrangements and complex narrative structures, I was immediately hooked. Michael Stipe's humble mumble only served to magnify the mystery of his lyrics. In retrospect, R.E.M. has really influenced a lot of how I think about pop song writing, from the hits right down to the stuff that people don't play anymore. I put together this list of R.E.M. "deep cuts," making sure to avoid anything that was released as a formal single. More than most any other band, R.E.M.'s songs are thoughtful, with a clear concept, purpose and heart. These are all songs that I have listened to over and over, especially growing up, and have a special place in my mind. And you'll find bits and pieces of many of them in my own songs, if you listen closely enough. - Andrew Choi (St. Lenox)

"Hairshirt" (Green)
One of my favorite R.E.M. songs, I don't know exactly why. Stipe's line "run a carbon black test on my jaw" is stuck in my memory, as is the way he holds on to "waves" for such a long time. The A section's chord progression also came back to me this last year when I heard Angel Olsen's "Whole New Mess" which uses a very similar chord progression throughout.

"Sad Professor" (Up)
It was because of this song that in my senior year of college, I swore to myself that I would never go to graduate school for philosophy. Seeing the protagonist in such a pathetic state was more than I could really bear. I did somehow end up going to graduate school for philosophy, but then quit to go to law school before I became a professor. Ah well. Stipe's line "late afternoon the house is hot" is one of his best lines and as soon as he sang it, I knew what he was talking about.

"Green Grow the Rushes" (Fables of the Reconstruction)
I remember reading that this song was about American foreign policy, but never read up on the political meaning. I was in high school at the time, and the internet was only just becoming a thing—though I had put up a website that had all the R.E.M. lyrics, one of more than two dozen websites that existed as part of an R.E.M. web ring (remember those?) in the mid-'90s. The imagery of growing green rushes was something I co-opted for the song "The Great Blue Heron (Song of Solomon)."

"The Flowers of Guatemala" (Life's Rich Pageant)
Is there more meaning to the song? I'm sure there is, but I always took the song to simply be an environmentalist song appreciating the beauty of the flowers in Guatemala. There's a reference in my song "You Don't Call Me Anymore".

"Crush with Eyeliner" (Monster)
I'll be honest, I was surprised to find that this wasn't a single off the record. Back in the day, I remember reading an article about a model/actress who said she was called "tomato sticks" when she was younger. I don't remember the model's name, but ever since then, I imagine her as the subject of the song, because of the line, "she's a sad tomato".

"How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us" (New Adventures in Hi-Fi)
I know this is in fact one of the singles off of the record. But given that the release date for the single was after the record release, does it really count as a single in modern terms? R.E.M. had an amazing knack for opening tracks, something which I've always tried to take to heart. Always just a little too weird, but with a strong concept hook to get the listener on board.

"Sweetness Follows" (Automatic for the People)
One of the best examples where R.E.M. lets the music communicate the protagonist's emotions without having the singer utter the emotions themselves. The lifting chord progressions of the chorus, and the blaring drone of what I can only assume is a bassoon. The bassoon drone trick is something I borrowed for the song "People From Other Cultures."

"Untitled" (Green)
Another of my favorite R.E.M. songs, it's the song that I most envision California to look like, if that makes sense.

"Oddfellows Local 151" (Document)
If you thought Stipe's belting "Fire" on "The One I Love" was big, he actually belts it bigger on "Oddfellows Local 151." The song was basically impenetrable to a sophomore in high school with limited internet access, and remains fairly impenetrable to this day.

"Welcome to the Occupation" (Document)
The politics of the song was something I wasn't particularly interested in in high school. (Though I suppose we continue to feel the effects of the actual politics lately). What drew me to the song was their knack for oblique chord progressions that hit a lot of emotional buttons I hadn't felt much in pop music before. As a classical musician, it was an aspect of R.E.M. that I respected and drew me in.

"Begin the Begin" (Lifes Rich Pageant)
One of the most memorable opening guitar hooks that Buck intersperses throughout.

"Swan Swan H" (Lifes Rich Pageant)
At the time I listened to this song, I was also reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, and the visual depictions from the song were something I couldn't separate from the alternate universe of the book. I know that won't make sense to anyone else, but that's forever how I listen to the song.

"Cuyahoga" (Lifes Rich Pageant)
The shimmering guitars in the B section of this song continue to haunt me to this day. The environmental themes of "Cuyahoga" especially informed "The Great Blue Heron (Song of Solomon)" and make me constantly think about the relationship between narrative, songwriting and advocacy.

"Feeling Gravitys Pull" (Fables of the Reconstruction)
Another great track that really solidifies their talent for writing opening tracks. As a concert violinist I always had fun breaking out the different levels of harmonics, and so this resonated with me quite a bit. (In fact, you can hear me doing quite a bit of harmonics on the violin in "Brooklyn Supredream").

"Harborcoat" (Reckoning)
Why this wasn't released as a single is beyond me. Such a great and catchy song. I didn't bother to pay attention to what the lyrics meant. Reading up on the lyrics today, maybe that was for the best.

"West of the Fields" (Murmur)
Am I a terrible person for not particularly enjoying Murmur that much? I enjoyed "Radio Free Europe" but the rest of the record always fell flat for me, especially in comparison to the Chronic Town EP. Nevertheless, "West of the Fields" is a banger.

"Gardening at Night" (Chronic Town)
Another of my favorite R.E.M. songs; their night-themed songs always appealed to the teenager in me, as when I was in high school, I never really got to hang out with friends that much. At the time, I imagined the song was about kids who garden at night for fun. It turns out the song isn't about that. "Gardening at Night" and "Nightswimming" were the spiritual inspiration for the song "Kroger Twilight."

"Wolves Lower" (Chronic Town)
Really I think one of the great guitar intro riffs of all time? When people talk about Peter Buck, they always talk about the jangle guitar thing, but these guitar riffs with their angular melodies always just drew me in. Also, the "house in order" backing vocals are so well placed. I could listen to this song forever.

"You're in the Air" (Up)
Later in their career, some of their experimental instrumental tendencies disappeared, but "You're in Air" is a really successful R.E.M. song. Their low-fi electronica tendencies on Up are something that I have a lot of sympathy for.



"Why Not Smile" (Up)
Stipe's line "I feel like a cartoon brick wall, to hear you speak of it" is one that still hits me hard, although I never figured out what it meant. I suppose I always thought he meant, "I feel like someone who hit a cartoon brick wall," meaning that he was hit hard.

"I Wanted to be Wrong" (Around the Sun)
I know a lot of people don't love this record, and I think it's hard to love. But the thing to do is avoid the singles and just delve into the weirdness of the tracks, like especially, "The Ascent of Man." "I Wanted to be Wrong" is less weird, but is one of their more successful political songs, emerging fully from the complete obscurity of their earlier songs, but without banging you over the head.

"Beat a Drum" (Reveal)
Some of Stipe's writing seemed to take a more cheesy turn in his later years, but songs like this and "Why Not Smile" come from such a true and honest place that it makes up for any cheesiness. And the music is so wonderful, it's hard not to smile by the end of the track.

Singer-songwriter Andrew Choi records as St. Lenox, whose fourth album Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times will be released June 11, 2021, on Don Giovanni Records.

Photo © Keith Carter

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