Song of the Day #1,180: ‘You Are the Everything’ – R.E.M.

Stop two on the R.E.M. nostalgia tour brings us to 1988’s Green, the band’s first album with Warner Bros. This record went double platinum and marks the beginning of R.E.M.’s commercial breakthrough.

Unfortunately, that breakthrough came courtesy of ‘Stand,’ one of the lamest R.E.M. songs. Sad that we live in a world where nobody is familiar with ‘(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville‘ but everybody can sing along to ‘Stand.’

But Green features some quality material, including the sublime ‘World Leader Pretend‘ and today’s beautifully melancholy track.

Green was the first R.E.M. album I bought as a new release, and it was one of my first CDs (in fact, it may well be the very first CD I ever owned). I remember discovering that the R’s in the band’s name and the album’s title on the CD case had faint 4’s superimposed within them, and track number four on the back of the case was replaced with an R. I have no idea why.

This is one of my least favorite R.E.M. albums — the songwriting simply doesn’t stack up to most of their other output — but like the rest of the music I’m featuring this week, it instantly transports me to a specific time and place.

In this case it’s that same house in Virginia, midway through my sophomore year, sitting on the floor of my sister’s bedroom (she was off to college but the room remained intact). I had this new CD but I didn’t yet have a CD player, so her stereo was the only way I could hear it.

I believe that was remedied at Christmas, when I received a nifty CD-compatible boombox that I own to this day.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing (say, say, the light)
I’m very scared for this world
I’m very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here’s a scene
You’re in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn’t end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone you are the everything

I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I’ve seen the films and the eyes
But I’m in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful
And she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty
Of the light of music
The voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me
You are here with me
You have been here and you are everything

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,180: ‘You Are the Everything’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana says:

    Oh, I wouldn’t be so hard on “Stand.” I think Stipe’s voice can make almost any song better, including that one. And if that hit allowed for R.E.M. to be heard by a larger audience, all the better.

    And I can’t believe you still own that boombox, which I remember quite well. I think it’s time for a garage sale or a donation to Goodwill.:)

  2. Amy says:

    What happened to Life’s Rich Pageant?! You’ve skipped over the other essential album of my college years. Today’s SOTD, released on Green, came out when I was on the verge of graduating, and I actually don’t have any memory of buying it. ‘

    I guess this was the start of my streak of being content with the music I loved. Having worn out the two REM albums I adored, I guess I didn’t feel a need to run out to buy the newest one? Odd, I agree, but there you go. I did remedy that in 91 and 92 (the year I graduated from graduate school, so REM nicely bookends my entire college experience), when I made a point of purchasing Out of Time and Automatic for the People. Those two albums went into heavy rotation and would form the quartet of albums that constitute the REM I know and love.

    Regardless, I’m glad you put my CD player to use while I was gone. Not sure why I hadn’t taken it to college and was instead still investing in vinyl? 🙂

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