Top 7 R.E.M. Water Songs


R.E.M. in the early 1980s.

You know, I didn’t wake up today thinking about doing this particular list. I had a few others in mind. I got up this morning, saw that it was such a nice, sunny day, and thought to myself, “Why jinx it by writing about rain and floods and all that stuff?” Well, it turned out that Mother Nature had her own agenda. It, indeed, rained today. And not just rained; I’m talking down-poured. It’s a good thing I rolled the windows up in my jeep. Nothing worse than a wet interior.

So now I’m in the mood to write about two of my favorite things: Athens, Georgia’s alternative rock icons R.E.M., and precipitation. For those who don’t know me personally, or my past (which is mostly all of you), I am a devoted R.E.M. fan, through thick and thin. Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and Bill Berry deserve to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and I’m glad they finally are. They helped put their hometown of Athens, college radio, alternative rock, and guitar bands on the map in the 1980s and 1990s. They are one of my favorite bands of all time, and no matter what else comes along or catches my attention later in life, this band will always hold a special place in my heart. I could go on and on about how much their music means to me, how much it’s impacted me, and whatever, but I won’t bore you. A list will suffice for now.

Georgia, especially Athens, is a beautiful place to visit. I don’t know from experience, but I’ve done my research, read brochures, watched videos, and spoke to people who have visited. Plenty of great rock bands, besides R.E.M., have started in that neck of the woods (B-52’s, Love Tractor, Pylon, etc.). The landscape is picturesque to say the least. It would certainly change many Northerners opinions on Southern beauty, if they were to see it with their own eyes. Open plains, lush forests, and secret bodies of water are not hard to find once you do some exploring.

R.E.M.’s lyrics, mainly in the beginning of their career, are somewhat cryptic, and difficult to grasp. Frontman Michael Stipe is a true poet and wordsmith, but because of his anxiety, he mumbled his words on many of the band’s early records. As soon as you decipher what Stipe is actually saying and what the true meanings are, you begin to appreciate the story he tells and how he tells it.  The band behind him adds strong emotion and a vibrant sound to these tales that have been mimicked, but never quite emulated by aspiring bands.

In the early days, the band wrote several songs about water. Lakes, seas, rain, storms, etc. They’ve all been common themes in many R.E.M. tracks, mostly during their time spent on the I.R.S. record label from the early to late 80s. These songs range in meaning, from the destruction of an ancient river (“Cuyahoga”), the damaging effects of acid rain (“Fall On Me”), and the ethereal bliss of skinny-dipping  with friends after a gig on a late, summer night (“Nightswimming”). Here is a list of the best R.E.M. water songs.

7. “I’ll Take The Rain”

6. “7 Chinese Bros.”

5. “Find The River”

4. “Fall On Me”

3. “Cuyahoga”

 2. “So. Central Rain”

1. “Nightswimming”

R.E.M. – “Nightswimming”

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Categories: Music

Author:Mike Pop

Rock & roll.

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