Song of the Day #673: ‘Gardening at Night’ – R.E.M.

I hope you like R.E.M.

It’s been over a month since my last artist theme (Paul Simon) so I’m making up for it by spending some quality time on one of my favorite bands, the Athens, Georgia, quartet (and now trio) that pretty much created the alternative music scene in the early 80s.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll highlight a song from each of R.E.M.’s fifteen albums (including their debut EP, Chronic Town, which is up to bat today).

In 1982, music fans got their first taste of the jangly guitars and mumbled vocals that would emerge as R.E.M.’s signature style for years to come. The five-song EP Chronic Town contained odd, murky but melodic rock songs with inscrutable lyrics (if you managed to figure out what the hell the lead singer was saying).

People who “get” R.E.M., who feel the band’s music in their bones, must have heard this EP and become instant fans. Others probably didn’t know what to make of them. I wasn’t lucky enough to discover the band this early (I was also ten years old) but I count myself among the first group and I suspect Chronic Town would have made a big impact on me had it been my first taste of the band.

The second track, ‘Gardening at Night,’ is a particular favorite. It has everything the band would come to be known for… and not just that signature guitar sound and Michael Stipe’s swallowed delivery but a certain melancholy otherness that positioned them as the band for people who didn’t quite fit in.

I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change.
Though all the feelings that broke through that door just didn’t seem to be too real.
The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes somewhere.
It must be time for penitence. Gardening at night is never where.
Gardening at night. Gardening at night. Gardening at night.

The neighbors go to bed at ten.
Call the prayer line for a change.
The charge is changing every month.
They said it couldn’t be arranged.

We ankled up the garbage sound, but they were busy in the rows.
We fell up, not to see the sun, gardening at night just didn’t grow.
I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change.
Though all the feelings that broke through that door just didn’t seem to be too real.
Gardening at night. Gardening at night. Gardening at night

Your sister said that you’re too young.
They should know they’ve been there twice.
The call was 2 and 51.
They said it couldn’t be arranged.

I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change.
Though all the feelings that broke through that door just didn’t seem to be too real.
We ankled up the garbage sound, but they were busy in the rows.
We fell up not to see the sun, gardening at night just didn’t grow.
Gardening at night. Gardening at night. Gardening at night.


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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #673: ‘Gardening at Night’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana says:

    Three weeks of REM–wow, I like them and all that, but, that might be a bit much.

    Never owned this album–nice song, definitely an indication of great things to come.

  2. Amy says:

    I LOVE R.E.M. Lucky me :)

    I could spend three weeks on Fables of the Reconstruction and Life’s Rich Pageant, so I hope those albums get more than a single song each!

    I don’t know today’s song at all (nor do I own this album); Stipe sounds so young! While I agree that much of their signature sound can be noticed here, it certainly isn’t as full as it will become. Can’t wait to revisit those songs.

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