Song of the Day #5,037: ‘Strange Currencies’ – R.E.M.

Continuing my look at 1994, first by counting down my own top ten albums of that year.

#4 – Monster – R.E.M.

Comparing R.E.M.’s 80s output vs. their 90s output makes for an interesting showdown. While their early albums embody the jangly pop rock sound that helped revolutionize the alternative rock landscape, the later work took that sound to darker and stranger places, resulting in some of the band’s most memorable songs.

In the 80s, R.E.M. found success on college radio, while in the 90s the band became global hitmakers, releasing their four highest-charting albums.

My personal top eight R.E.M. albums is split down the middle, with four titles from each decade.

A title that does not show up in that top eight is 1994’s Monster, and yet I like this album enough to place it fourth on my list of releases from that year.

Monster came in the middle of that run of great 90s albums, following Out of Time and Automatic for the People and preceding New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

It’s the odd man out in that collection of baroque, moody pop albums — a loud, brash, grungy record that finds R.E.M. rocking out in a way they seldom did in the studio (their live shows were another matter).

But Monster is more than just the “loud” R.E.M. album. It features some great songs that stand apart from the rest of the band’s catalog sonically while still feeling like quintessential R.E.M. songs. Among the highlights are first single ‘What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?,’ ‘Crush With Eyeliner,’ ‘Tongue,’ ‘Let Me In,’ and today’s SOTD, ‘Strange Currencies.’

[Verse 1]
I don’t know why you’re mean to me
When I call on the telephone
And I don’t know what you mean to me
But I want to turn you on, turn you up, figure you out
I wanna take you on

These words, “You will be mine”
These words, “You will be mine”, all the time

[Verse 2]
The fool might be my middle name
But I’d be foolish not to say
I’m going to make whatever it takes
Bring you up, call you down, sign your name, secret love
Make it rhyme, take you in, and make you mine

These words, “You will be mine”
These words, “You will be mine,” all the time, oh
I tripped and fell, did I fall
What I want to feel, I want to feel it now

[Verse 3]
And now with love come strange currencies
And here is my appeal
I need a chance, a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance
A word, a signal, a nod, a little breath
Just to fool myself, to catch myself, to make it real, real

These words, “You will be mine”
These words, “You will be mine,” all the time, oh

These words, “You will be mine”
These words, they haunt me, hunt me down, catch in my throat, make me pray
Say, love’s confined, oh

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,037: ‘Strange Currencies’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This was the album where I jumped off the REM bandwagon and never hopped back on. Too loud, too grunge. By 1994, I had enough great REM music to last a lifetime. I suppose a similar statement could be made about other faves like Sting, Elton John, Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, Bob Dylan and so on.

  2. Amy says:

    While I wasn’t a fan of the overall album, I adored “Crush with Eyeliner.” Had it been as easy then as it is today to drop that song on a separate playlist, it would have been played it far more than I did.

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