Me In Honey

“This explores the idea of pregnancy from the father’s point of view. Just the phrase itself is so open to interpretation. It could be very loving or it can be kind of nasty. Which is exactly what the song is. A diametrically opposed emotional thing can and does occur.”

Michael Stipe (369)


“A song about Nazi Germany from a Jewish viewpoint.”

Michael Stipe (370)
“To me, ‘Harborcoat’ is a rewriting of the Anne Frank Diaries.”Michael Stipe (797)

Welcome To The Occupation

“That’s a song about Mexican guest workers. Big fish eats small fish kind of thing.”

Michael Stipe (370)

Fall On Me

“Initially it was about acid rain. But then I rewrote the song. If you listen to the second verse, there is a countermelody underneath it. That’s the original melody to the song; that was the part about acid rain. In fact, the “Fall On Me” that we all know and love is not about acid rain. It’s a general oppression song, about the fact that there are a lot of causes out there that need a song that says, “Don’t smash us.” And specifically, there are references to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the guy dropping weights and feathers.”

Michael Stipe (541)

Country Feedback

“It’s a love song, but it’s certainly from the uglier side. It’s pretty much about having given up on a relationship.”

Michael Stipe (579)
“It was exactly what was on his (Stipe’s) mind that day. It was real.”Pete Buck (797)

The One I Love

“It’s probably better that they think it’s a love song at this point. That song just came up from somewhere and I recognized it as being really violent and awful. But it wasn’t directed at any one person. I would never write a song like that. Even if there was one person in the world thinking, “This song is about me,” I could never sing it or put it out… I didn’t want to record that, I thought it was too much. Too brutal. I think there’s enough of that ugliness around.”

Michael Stipe (579)
“It’s not a love song at all. It’s a very vicious break-up song. It’s very cold and cruel.”Mike Mills (684)
“It’s a very brutal song. I felt kind of bad about putting that one out. To me, it’s perhaps the most despondent song I’ve ever written, but I didn’t really want to censor myself. I gave it a good deal of thought and discussed it with some friends of mine and just decided that it was something that I felt, perhaps had not experienced, but it’s something that I have felt, and to try to change or dilute it would be to deny that.”Michael Stipe (798)


“The first line is about Laocoon, a freak mythological figure who had two sons. All three were devoured by serpents. It was a popular theme in Renaissance painting. There’s also John Barth’s novel End Of The Road where a statue of Laocoon features heavily. Oh, I did change the gender in the song from a man to a woman.”

Michael Stipe (579)

Man On The Moon

“It’s about Andy Kaufman. He was just so incredibly ahead of the curve in terms of what he was presenting as a comedian and as a performance artist.”Michael Stipe (684)
“It’s a really happy song about death and about passage and the ultimate transition out of life into whatever, and we don’t know what the ‘whatever’ is. We just don’t know and that’s part of the beauty. It makes you happy, it also makes you cry a little bit because it is about a sad character.”Michael Stipe (1146)

Document (The Album)

“The whole album is about chaos. I’ve become very interested in chaos and the hypothesis that there is order within chaos, so I guess that kind of carried over into the recording. Chaos enters into every song, thematically speaking, as does fire.”Michael Stipe (798)

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

“Half of the song is about somebody trying to get in touch with someone who can sleep on his floor. The other half – you’re on your own.”Mike Mills (799)

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

“Dan Rather: it’s obviously something that resonates with me and I remember the time very well. When did the idea of doing something on “What’s the frequency Kenneth come to you? [Dan was attacked on the street in New York in 1986 by a man shouting, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” – Ed]. Michael Stipe: I was writing a song about a generational gap and a character who was desperately trying to understand a younger generation’s perspective and failing miserably at it. The phrase “what’s the frequency, Kenneth?” I turned it, represents inscrutability, it’s the big question. No-one knew what it meant, it represented trying and trying and trying but not arriving at the answer. So, it’s inscrutable, that’s what it was. Also in the song is a quote from Richard Linklater, the director of Slacker, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy,” that describes in the early 90s the generation that was coming up, there was a world-weary dystopic kind of, “fuck it all” feeling coming out of grunge and that generation. This song was about somebody who was really trying to tap into that and not doing a good job of it.”Michael Stipe (1146)

Supernatural Superserious

“About a teenage seance that becomes an adult obsession with being tied up.”Michael Stipe (1146)

Find The River

“It talks about the journey of life without being literal in any way.”Mike Mills (1146)