Song of the Day #4,180: ‘What If We Give It Away?’ – R.E.M.

Eleven years ago, I ranked R.E.M.’s albums and placed 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant at #3. I have some quibbles about that list and would likely shuffle some titles were I to revisit it today, but I stand by the placement of this album.

Pageant was the album where R.E.M. started the transition from the alternative to the mainstream. It’s more polished and muscular than its predecessors, but not as radio-friendly as what was to come. It sits nicely in that sweet spot.

‘Fall On Me’ and the cover song ‘Superman’ were the only singles from Lifes Rich Pageant but every track is a winner. Today’s song, ‘What If We Give It Away?,’ is a reworked version of a song from very early in the band’s career. It might be the least heralded cut on the album, but it’s nevertheless a great one.

[Verse 1]
On the outside, underneath the wall
All the money couldn’t buy
You’re mistaken, no one’s standing there
For the record, no one tried

[Chorus]
Oh, I try to
What if we give it away?

[Verse 2]
Overlooking with a hollow eye
What’s pretending isn’t right
Eye for order, a hand for what’s in line
Couldn’t follow, couldn’t write

[Chorus]
Oh, I try to
What if we give it away?

[Bridge]
And our life is fine here
Stitch it on your tie here

[Verse 3]
Here’s the trailer, Tom, a year has come and gone
We’re not moving, wasn’t right
Take the order, sew it on your tie
We couldn’t follow, couldn’t try

[Chorus]
Oh, I try to
What if we give it away?

[Outro]
What if we give it away?

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,180: ‘What If We Give It Away?’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m with on this album. It’s a great one, and this is a standout track on it.

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