Friday, April 20, 2018

REVEAL: SHE JUST WANTS TO BE

   There are some lovely parts to this song, I'll always love pomegranate afternoons and the angels lines in particular, and the intention of the song is wonderful. However, this is one I've never fully been on board for primarily for the presumptuousness of the narrator. Michael has certainly used female characters in his songs before, but its difficult to know who the narrator is here with the strong female pronoun usage--which is a rarity for Michael. The usage seems to take some power away from what should be a triumphant moment in the character's journey as, let's face it, these are three dudes writing a song about how a woman feels. Another weakness is the plodding bridge from the verse to the chorus. That said, it's not a bad song and they played it well live. In addition, the lyrics below reflect what is sung on the album and in the first live shows. It's a small thing (as always) but he's definitely singing 'she's off on the ride' in the first verse, but the lyric changed sometime after recording to 'she's off on her own.' How can I be so sure? There's a live version of the band  playing the song in 2001 in Cologne on YouTube where there's a close up of him singing 'the ride,' but on another feed of that same show the camera lingers on his lyrics monitor which says, you guessed it, 'her own.' Is it weird that he disregards his own prompter? Yes! In later live performances, Michael truly makes it 'her own' and while those are the official lyrics it's not what is recorded in the studio. He also over time changes the first line's 'places' to 'faces.' These are small things, but if not for these interesting diversions and inconsistencies do I really care enough to write this blog? Well, probably.




She Just Wants To Be is at 16:45


SHE JUST WANTS TO BE

It's not that she walked away
Her world got smaller
All the usual places
The same destinations
Only something's changed

It's not that she wasn't rewarded
With pomegranate afternoons
And Mingus, Chet Baker, and chess
It's not the stampeding fortune of prim affectations
She's off on the ride but she knows now

Is greater than the whole of the past
Is greater and now she knows

She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be

It's not that the transparency
Of her earlier incarnations
Now looked back on weren't rich
And loaded with beautiful vulnerability
And now she knows

Now is greater and she knows that

She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be

Now is greater
Now is greater and she knows that

She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
She just wants to be

It's not like if angels could truly look down
Or stir up the trappings and light on the ground
Remind us of what, when, why, or who
That how's up to us, me and you
And now is greater than the whole of the past
Is greater and now she knows that
And now she knows



   Fun song to learn and play. Peter adds some interesting fills and then changes up the chorus a couple of times near the end. I added the keyboard line in the bridge to chorus and then separated where the 2nd chorus goes into a repeated pattern. I mentioned my dislike for the bridge to chorus above and honestly, I don't think it needs to be solved as it is what it is, but it feels like an instrumental was handed to Michael and he didn't fill the space. Instead of take it out completely, they left it in. It definitely lends a feeling of 'otherness' to the song which I think was what they were trying to do for the entire album, if that's the case--success!


SHE JUST WANTS TO BE

Intro/Outro
e|-3-0-3-0----0--|
B|----1---1-3-0--|
G|------------0--|
D|------------2--|
A|------------2--|
E|------------0--|

Verse
e|----0-------0----|-------0---|
B|----1-------1----|---1----0--|
G|--2-2----2--2----|----0------|
D|-2--2-0-3-3-3-0--|--2---2----|
A|-----------------|-3---2-----|
E|--------------x7-|-----------|

Bridge to Chorus
e|-1---0---|
B|-1---3---|
G|-2---2---|
D|-3---0---|
A|-3-------|
E|-1-------|

Bridge to Chorus Riff A
e|----------------|
B|----------------|
G|----2------2----|
D|--3--3-3-0--0-0-|
A|-3-3--3-0-0--0--|
E|----------------|

Bridge to Chorus Riff B (Keyboard)
e|-3-5-3--0--|
B|-------3-3-|
G|------2----|
D|-----------|
A|-----------|
E|-----------|

Chorus (Am-C-Em/Am-C-G)
e|------12-----12--15-----12---------15--|
B|-13-15--13-12--12--13-15--13-12--12----|
G|-------------------------------12------|
D|---------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------|

Lead
e|--------------7-8-7------------------7-8-10-12-15<---|
B|-8-10h-8-10-10-----10-8-8-10h-10-8-10----------------|
G|-----------9-----------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|

e|--------------7-8-7---------------------------------------|
B|-8-10h-8-10-10-----10-8-8-10h-10-8-10-12-13>12>10>8>10-6--|
G|-----------9----------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------------------|

Chorus 2
e|-----12-------------15----12-------|
B|-12----12-13--12--12--13----13-12--|
G|---12-------14--12------14---------|
D|-----------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------|

Chorus 2 (Pattern)
e|-----12---------15----12------|
B|-13----13-12--12--13----13-12-|
G|---14-------12------14--------|
D|------------------------------|
A|------------------------------|
E|------------------------------|

Last Verse Fill
e|-17--12----|
B|---15--13--|
G|-----------|
D|-----------|
A|-----------|
E|-----------|

Chorus 3 (Outro Riff)
e|-0-0--------------12-----------12--15--12--15--12--12-|
B|--0-0-12-13h-13-12--13-12-12-13--13--13--13--13--13---|
G|------------------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------|

Chorus 3 (Loosely last time through)
e|---------12------12-----12---|
B|-13-13-12--12-13h-12-13h-----|
G|-----------------------------|
D|-----------------------------|
A|-----------------------------|
E|-----------------------------|

Final Am after outro
e|----------------|
B|--------1-0-----|
G|-------2---2-2--|
D|------2-----2---|
A|-----0--------0-|

E|-0--------------|

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

REVEAL: ALL THE WAY TO RENO (you're gonna be a star)

   In general, there's something about the Southwest U.S. that captivates Michael and I throw this song into that general mix. This song would've fit on NAIHF near Low Desert. Peter interprets this as a pretty depressing song as 'Who goes to Reno to be a star?' He never met anyone from Elko I guess! I remember thinking this song was about divorce, because, you know ... Reno. However, the song hews pretty close to the dreams and crushed dreams of the misguided. But sometimes you have to be a big fish in a small pond--or at least find the pond that suits you. The band was going for a real Jimmy Webb feel on this as a semi-tribute to one of their favorite writers. The video was directed by Michael Moore and the AV club of a Brooklyn High School, it's pretty great so I've included it below. I've always enjoyed the song, but in the context of this album it sort of washes over me--and I can't decide whether that's the strength or weakness of REVEAL--maybe as I get further in it will clarify. The track is a little obvious with the parenthetical title, sort of a throwback to ITEOTWAWKI(AIFF), but the song doesn't really need an alternate title IMO. Also, for those keeping track here's something else Michael has 'fastened on a sleeve.'





 ALL THE WAY TO RENO (you're gonna be a star)


Humming
All the way to Reno
You've dusted the non-believers
And challenged the laws of chance
Now, sweet
You’re so sugar sweet
You may as well have had 'kick me'
Fastened on your sleeve

You know what you are, you're gonna be a star
You know what you are, you're gonna be a star

Wing
Is written on your feet
Your Achilles heel
Is the tendency
To dream
But you've know that from the beginning
You didn't have to go so far
You didn't have to go

You know what you are, you're gonna be a star
You know what you are, you're gonna be a star

You know who you are
You know who you are
You know who you are

Humming
All the way to Reno
You've written your own directions
And whistled the rules of change

You know what you are, you're gonna be a star
You know what you are, you're gonna be a star
You know what you are, you're gonna be a star
You know what you are, you're gonna be a star

Humming
All the way to Reno
All the way to Reno
All the way to Reno

You're gonna be a star
(you are, you are)
You're gonna be a star
You're gonna be a star
(you are, you are)
You're gonna be a star



   Pretty straightforward twang on this one, sort of reminiscent of MAN ON THE MOON, even the opening chords are similar and the C chord sounds full if you add the G on the low E string. Peter does a form of the Gm below, but I like to play the barred version better. There's some doodling at the end I didn't tab, but it mostly sticks to the chord forms--however, if you switch to a C chord at the 8th fret and a Gm on the 3rd barred, you can duplicate the high to low slide if you strum up.

ALL THE WAY TO RENO (you're gonna be a star)

Riff 1 (C-Gm)

A|----3-1--------------1-3>5-3---|
E|-3-3-3-1-1-3-1-3----3-------3--|

Riff 2 (Dm-F)
e|---------------|
B|---------------|
G|-----2----2----|
D|--3-5--3-5-5---|
A|-5----3--------|
E|---------------|

Verse
e|-0---3--------1---1--|
B|-1---3--------3---1--|
G|-0---0--------2---2--|
D|-2---5--------0---3--|
A|-3---5------------3--|
E|-0---0---x3-------1--|

Chorus
e|-1---0---1---6---3------|
B|-3---1---3---8---3------|
G|-3---0---2---8---3------|
D|-3---2---0---8---5------|
A|-1---3-------8---5------|
E|-1---0-------6---3------|

Chorus Riff 1
e|-1-1-0--------|----------------1--|
B|------1-3-3-4-|-3-1-----------3---|
G|--------------|----3-2-0-2-3-3----|
D|--------------|-------3---3-------|
A|--------------|-------------------|
E|--------------|-------------------|

e|-1---0---1---6---1------|
B|-3---1---3---8---1------|
G|-3---0---2---8---2------|
D|-3---2---0---8---3------|
A|-1---3-------8---3------|
E|-1---0-------6---1------|

Chorus Riff 2
e|-1-1-0--------|----|
B|------1-3-3-4-|-1--|
G|--------------|----|
D|--------------|----|
A|--------------|----|
E|--------------|----|

Middle 8
e|-1---3--------1------|
B|-3---3--------1------|
G|-2---3--------2------|
D|-0---5--------3------|
A|-----5--------3------|
E|-----3---x3---1------|


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

REVEAL: I'VE BEEN HIGH

   There's an interview somewhere where Michael talks about this song as a reminder in times of distress that there are peaks and valleys throughout our lives to contemplate, he also mentions there might be an element of the 'real me' in the song. Mike loves how this song asks Michael to become a singer and push his vocalizations to the level of crooner. What I like about the song is the simplicity, another solid second track on an album to move us into the body of the work. I also find this to be very typical of the late 'adult contemporary' R.E.M. in which the songs of a whole are anthemic, meant for everyone to find some seed of truth in. Michael has always written in the abstract, but the phrases and sounds have turned into axioms and aphorisms without a lot of exposition or context. Sort of like conversations you join but can never discern the origin. I think with this album I'll be trying to post live video alternatives to the songs where I can find them.



Another cool live version:



I'VE BEEN HIGH

Have you seen?
Have not, will travel
Have I missed the big reveal?

Do my eyes
Do my eyes seem empty?
I've forgotten how this feels

I've been high
I've climbed so high
But life sometimes it
Washes over me

Have you been?
Have done, will travel
I fell down on my knees

Was I wrong?
I don't know, don't answer
I just needed to believe

I've been high
I've climbed so high
But life sometimes it
Washes over me

So I dive into a pool so cool and deep that if I sink I sink
And when I swim I fly so high

What I want
What I really want is
Just to live my life on high

And I know
I know you want the same
I can see it in your eyes

I've been high
I've climbed so high
But life sometimes it
Washes over me
Washes over me
Close my eyes so I can see
Make my make-believe believe in me


   When recording this song, Peter says they stripped the acoustic guitar off completely. Luckily we have a live version to show us what that might have sounded like. At the end, the chord progression is double time the first part of the verse. On the album, there's also some picking during the final chorus, it's basically the chords with an added finger on the 3rd fret of the B string.

I'VE BEEN HIGH


Verse
e|-0---0---0---3-|-0---0---3-|
B|-1---1---1---3-|-1---1---3-|
G|-0---2---2---0-|-0---2---0-|
D|-2---3---2---0-|-2---3---0-|
A|-3---0---0---2-|-3---0---2-|
E|-0---0---0---3-|-0---0---3-|

Chorus
e|-1---0--------0---3-|
B|-2---2--------1---3-|
G|-3---2--------2---0-|
D|-0---2--------3---0-|
A|-0---0--------0---2-|
E|-0---0---x3---0---3-|
  
Chorus
Notes
e|-------------------------|
B|-3---3---3---------------|
G|-------------------------|
D|-------------3---5-------|
A|---------------------3---|
E|-------------------------|
  
Middle 8
e|-0---0---0---3-|-0---0---1---3-|
B|-1---1---1---3-|-1---1---3---3-|
G|-2---2---0---0-|-2---2---2---0-|
D|-2---3---2---0-|-2---3---0---0-|
A|-0---0---3---2-|-0---0-------2-|
E|-0---0---0---3-|-0---0-------3-|

End with a double timed verse progression and then C-F-C

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

REVEAL: THE LIFTING

   If the ethereal opening to this track doesn't set you up for the album nothing does. Remember when the group was considered a jangly rock band? I dare you to find any consistent guitar in this song. There's the occasional punch in, some e-bow, and a lead. The song itself is a companion to 'Daysleeper' as Michael has said it's the same character, but the only link between the songs is the naming of the time in the first line. Maybe that's enough. He says the character is at a seminar trying to be led to think beyond the tangible, but she's having a hard time wrapping her mind around the marriage of business and dreams so her involvement is a failure. However, the final lines point to someone who can tap into the intangible. To me the final lines are the real payoff of this song, almost as if we the listener are experiencing the song version of her seminar. Again, if you want the old R.E.M. this song is saying good luck, sucker. If you want to experience new aesthetic territory with the band, this opener is a great start.




A cool live version, guitar and all!




THE LIFTING

(Grounded)
Grounded
5 a.m.
The night lite is comforting
But gravity is holding you

Once settled into sleep
You have watched
On repeat the story of your life
Across the ceiling
And in review

You've said the air was singing and
It's calling you, you don't believe
These things you've never seen

‘Good morning, and how are you? The weather's fine, the sky is blue, it's perfect for our seminar’

‘Now close your eyes and start to breathe, allow the noise to recede allow yourself to drift and fly away’
But you just stay

You've said the air was singing and
It's calling you, you don't believe
These things you've never seen
Never dreamed

Did you hear these voices calling?
Did you hear these voices calling?
Did you hear these voices calling you?

Locked into a conference room,
‘We're only what our minds assume’
And rationale is leaving you
(Grounded)

This conceit, these systems of belief
Your counselor agrees
‘you've always marked these boundaries, now you're free’
And with relief

You've said the air was singing and
It's calling you, you don't believe
These things you've never seen
Never heard
Never dreamed

You've said the air was singing and
It's calling you, you don't believe
These things you've never seen

Never, never, never, never, never
Never, never, never, never, never
Never, never, never, never, never
Never, never, never, never

Now once you had a dream of oceans
And sunken cities
Memories of things you've never known
And you have never known




   I posted the live version above to show the song with guitar all the way through. Below are just chords and the lead, but he's doodling with the e-bow at times for a harsh edge to the sound. Live, he plays the intro by hitting the low E-String notes on the 3rd and 10th frets, it's also kind of fun to begin the song with a traditional G chord and slide that same form up to the D at the 10th ... I like it anyway.


THE LIFTING


Intro/Verse
G-Dm

Chorus
Am-C (x3)
Em

Middle Bridge
C-Dm-G-Am (x3)
Em

Lead
e|-------------------------------------10-7-8-5-3-1-3--|
B|-----------------------------------------------------|
G|----4-5-7---9-7-5-4-5-4---------4-5-7----------------|
D|-5-7-------------------7-5-3-5-7---------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------|



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Intro to REVEAL

   Michael Stipe has on numerous occasions referred to this as a 'summer album' and it's hard to argue with that claim, especially as I write this in the cheap seats of a lingering winter. The album is light and airy, which is very distinctly purposeful as the band wanted to challenge the notions of what an R.E.M. song is and sounds like. Peter says the only song in his mind that resembles a traditional R.E.M. track is Imitation of Life, but even in my cursory leap into the album it's clear the group can never get away from how they write and only how they record and produce. I've added the press kit for the album below in which Peter talks about almost jettisoning 'Imitation' and taking away the acoustic guitar on 'I've been High' in order to serve up a completely new sound for ... fans? It's unclear who the album would be for, but needless to say if you're truly a fan of the artist you'll follow them through even the boldest re-workings of their craft.
   Earlier in the blog I threw some shade at AROUND THE SUN as their biggest let down as a band and I'm going to backtrack on that a bit to offer up an intentional let down with REVEAL. It's on this album the band truly doesn't care what you think, Michael is more intent than ever to personalize his lyrics, and Peter and Mike are throwing shit together with a mad scientist wholesale warehouse type of mentality. In fact 'Saturn Return,' according to Peter, is not a song--it's simply a leftover synth from 'Imitation' and a series of drum loops and add ons from other songs--sort of a Frankenstein's Monster track.
   This album came out at a very strange time here in the U.S. Bush II had started and was going terribly, we had just come through a contentious election and after the Lewinsky scandal a rather boring final years of Clinton. There was a malaise surrounding everything around Y2K and it seems to have attached itself to this album and the thoughts of the songwriters. REVEAL was simply an attempt by the band to step back as they did for OOT and AFTP and reveal who they were as musicians at this stage of their career. Michael succeeds in building on the 'Walk Unafraid' promise of his UP lyrics, by claiming the words came easier to him with this album as he has learned to trust his instincts. Which is refreshing in some ways, frustrating in others, however any writer will tell you that confidence is a gift and for some of the clunky turns of phrase, Michael also gifts us with some brilliant lyrical work.
   Measuring this album versus their earlier work is a fools errand, so taken at face value I love many parts of REVEAL. It came out at a time I was questioning my own soul and coming up with scary answers, so retreating into this pastiche version of R.E.M. was comforting--the opening of 'Summer Turns to High' in particular still feels like a cool wave on the hottest day. I also played in a duo that covered 'Imitation' and it wasn't until putting the words in my mouth I realized how good the song is, the production values on the album blend it with the overall soundscape, but the structure is very solid. I used to introduce it as the sequel to 'Losing My Religion' but now I'm not so sure. As I tab through the songs, I expect there to be a lot of chord progression posts and not so much accurate posting in favor of how to play on a solo guitar.
   With all of that said, the album is hard to decipher for the casual fan, but I'm going to try and crack that code. For without REVEAL and ATS there is no ACCELERATE or COLLAPSE, the band have to figure out who they are as a three piece. Because the departure of Bill came after initial plans for UP, I submit that REVEAL is truly the band on its own--they need this / a paperweight, a junk garage, winter rain, honey pot--that is what they're seeking to strip down to, to reveal who they are and what they want to be going forward.



Monday, April 9, 2018

MAN ON THE MOON: THE GREAT BEYOND

   Something wacky happened between UP and REVEAL and that was the Man on the Moon soundtrack. Way back on DEAD LETTER OFFICE, Peter joked (or maybe not) that the band would do soundtracks. Well, someone finally called. It is significant that the producers of this bio-pic called the movie Man on the Moon isn't it? How often does a song so ingratiate itself into the zeitgeist as to be shorthand for how someone lived? I'm listening to the soundtrack now and I think this will be the only song I tab off of it as the only other tune is a cover of This Friendly World and most everything else is piano based (Miracle is classic R.E.M. instrumental) ... maybe I'll snag that stuff later. Michael often presented this as Mike's song to be a companion piece to Man on the Moon and to that nod, he added a couple of Man on the Moon lyrics to the background vocal at the end. The song was a modest hit, particularly in the UK--signaling the band's greater reach internationally than here in the States. The song is pretty straightforward and has some inventiveness, but the slick production almost feels like pandering to a wider cinematic audience. The song does still end up on hits collections, and nominated for a Grammy though so I guess it is liked. I don't dislike the song and hey, I'll sing along, but it's certainly not the first track I would reach for if it was the last I'd ever hear.



THE GREAT BEYOND

I’ve watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
Oh, the sights that I have seen
I can
’t believe that I believed I wish that you could see
There
’s a new planet in the solar system
There is nothing up my sleeve

I
’m pushing an elephant up the stairs
I
’m tossing up punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

In all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don
’t want to stay around
Why can
’t we pantomime just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

I
’m pushing an elephant up the stairs
I
’m tossing up punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I
’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
I
’m looking for answers from the great beyond

I want the hummingbirds, the dancing bear
Sweetest dreams of you
I look into the stars
I look into the moon

I
’m pushing an elephant up the stairs
I
’m tossing up punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I
’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
I
’m looking for answers from the great beyond

I
’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
I
’m looking for answers from the great
Answers from the great
Answers

I
’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
I
’m looking for answers from the great beyond

I’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
(Here’s a little agit for the never believer)
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
(Here’s a little ghost for the offering)
I
’m looking for answers from the great
Answers from the great
Answers

I’m breaking through
I
’m bending spoons
(Here’s a little agit for the never believer)
I
’m keeping flowers in full bloom
(Here’s a little ghost for the offering)
I
’m looking for answers from the great beyond



   On the album, this song is tuned strangely--down just a bit to match the orchestra tuning. However, live the band played it standard and so it shall be tabbed that way! I've added the little doodle in the verse Peter used to do live, because it's a nice touch. It also looks like Peter might be throwing his middle finger up to the A note on the E string for a deeper A, but played open, the regular A string will suffice.

THE GREAT BEYOND


Verse
e|-0---0---0------0-0---|
B|-0---3---0-0-0--3--3--|
G|-5---2---5--5-0-2---2-|
D|-5---0---5------0-----|
A|-0-------0------------|
E|-0-------0------------|

Bridge to Chorus
e|-0---0---0--------3-|
B|-1---1---1--------3-|
G|-0---0---2--------0-|
D|-2---0---2--------0-|
A|-3---2---0--------2-|
E|-0---0---0---x3---3-|

Chorus
e|-0---0---3---2---0---0---3---3-|
B|-1---1---3---3---1---1---3---3-|
G|-2---0---0---2---2---0---0---0-|
D|-2---2---0---0---2---2---0---0-|
A|-0---3---2-------0---3---2---2-|
E|-0---0---3-------0---0---3---3-|

e|-0---0---3---2---0----|
B|-1---1---3---3---1----|
G|-2---0---0---2---0----|
D|-2---2---0---0---2----|
A|-0---3---2-------3----|
E|-0---0---3-------0----|

End on:
e|-0---|
B|-0---|
G|-4---|
D|-5---|
A|-0---|
E|-0---|