Thursday, February 2, 2017

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: BINKY THE DOORMAT

   The title of this song allegedly comes from the film 'Shakes the Clown' with Bobcat Goldthwait. Somewhere in the movie the character of Binky says he shouldn't be called Binky the Clown, but Binky the Doormat. The connection? The film was in part produced by IRS and Miles Copeland, REM's old record company. The title and movie have no bearing on a song full of kink sex and loathing, the lead character seemingly fed up with going along with the kinks of their partner who is identified as a female--a rare gender identifier for Michael. The song itself was one of my favorites from the album early on, but I believe this is more indicative of the turn the album takes next into the three strongest songs. I like BTD, but it has some troubling aspects--not least of which is the slam the door 'Go away' finality of a relationship. It's difficult to go zero to angry in a short pop song without the emotions feeling reactionary, plus whenever it comes to pleasure it's a larger leap to have erotic kink become the straw that breaks a relationships back. That aside it's a rock song made for arenas to take advantage of the sound on the tour, it works well as a performance most audiences can appreciate when they don't know the song.



BINKY THE DOORMAT

This is horror movie stuff
The muffin is peach, you're makin' love
You mean this opera involves handcuffs?
I, I lay defeated
Yeah, sour milk mouth horseradish sweet
She's a girl she's loving me
Distance is my tendency
I am defeated

Have you lost your place?
(Go away, go away)
I wore my doormat face
(Go away, go away, go away, go, go, go)
I hung my this or that
(Go away, go away, go away, go away)
I laid my welcome mat
(Go away, go away)

If I'm your oyster, where's the war?
You leave me gasping tattered and torn
I know you can't find a fork
I am just a little acorn
Well acorns grow to mighty trees
You've got sauce, but you don't have knees
And look who's asking pretty please
I lay defeated

Have you lost your place?
(Go away, go away)
I wore my doormat face
(Go away, go away, go away, go, go, go)
I hung my this or that
(Go away, go away, go away, go away)
I laid my welcome mat
(Go away, go away)


Call your bathroom friends around
I will fake a little frown
I will be your little clown
Easily defeated
Yeah, you shut the door and open wide
Seconal and astroglide
Fuck with me and traumatize
Don't you see I love your hide?
All the beauty is trapped inside
Can't you see I love your hide?
Can't you see I love your hide?
Can't you see it?

Have you lost your place?
(Go away, go away)
I wore my doormat face
(Go away, go away, go away, go, go, go)
I hung my this or that
(Go away, go away, go away, go away)
I laid my welcome mat
(Go away, go away go away, go, go, go)
I hung my this or that
(Go away, go away, go away, go away)
I laid my welcome mat
(Go away, go away go away, go, go, go)
Go away
Go away
Go away
Go away
Go away
Go away


  Fairly easy riff on this one with a second guitar in the verse background. The middle bridge is mostly making use out of the fuzzed guitar by raking the strings while muted.

BINKY THE DOORMAT

Verse
e|--4-4-4-4---4---2-2-2-2---2----|
B|-------------------------------|
G|-4---4---3>4---2---2---1>2-----|

Verse Guitar 2
e|-0---0-0-0----|
B|-5---7-5-3----|
G|-4---4-4-2----|
D|-0---0-0-0----|

Chorus
e|-----0---3---0---0-0-0-----0---3---|
B|-2---3---3---0---0-0-0-2---3---3---|
G|-2---0---0---7---6-4-0-2---0---0---|
D|-2---2---0---8---7-5-0-2---2---0---|
A|-----3---2---8---7-5-0-----3---2---|
E|-----0---3---6---5-3-0-----0---3---|

Middle Bridge
(Play loosely and scratch those strings!)
e|-0---------0---0------|
B|-3---------3---5------|
G|-2---5-4-5-2---2------|
D|-0---------0---0------|


Friday, January 13, 2017

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: BE MINE

Michael has said "I have written songs that are I think bordering on creepy or questionable, Be Mine topping the list." However, I think this is one of the strongest songs on the album and one of my favorites. It's also the first one I learned to play. You might recognize the guitar style as Mike Mills from his go on LET ME IN. In a documentary where Thom Yorke chose this song to sing with the band Mike admits the song is one he wrote and in a short clip on YouTube it is him on the guitar. There's a lovely version on youtube that is just Mike with a different, but similar Michael vocal that is very lovely. But it's the kicking in of the drums and orchestrations that move this song to the next level IMO. The song is beautiful if a little possessive.



BE MINE

"a speed zone up here too"

I never thought of this as funny
It speaks another world to me
I want to be your easter bunny
I want to be your christmas tree

I'll strip the world that you must live in
Of all its godforsaken greed
I'll ply the tar out of your feathers
I'll pluck the thorns out of your feet
You and me
You and me
You and me

And if I choose your sanctuary
I want to wash you with my hair
I want to drink of sacred fountains
And find the riches hidden there

I'll eat the lotus and peyote
I want to hear the caged bird sing
I want the secrets of the temple
I want the finger with the ring
You and me
You and me
You and me

And if you make me your religion
I'll give you all the room you need
I'll be the drawing of your breath
I'll be the cup if you should bleed

I'll be the sky above the Ganges
I'll be the vast and stormy sea
I'll be the lights that guide you inward
I'll be the visions you will see

The visions you will see

You will see
You will see
You and me
You and me
You and me
You and me
You and me
You and me



    As with most of the other tab you can find online for R.E.M. people just plain have it wrong, particularly the chorus. Mike is just as fond of open chords as Peter, but in a slightly more traditional power chord type of way. The highlights are the sliding E to B, the G#m set up for the F#m to F# open, and of course the switching from the D string riff to the A string riff to open the verses. A very well thought out and easy song to play once you get it.

BE MINE

Verse
D|-9-11h-11-11-9-11-13-14-14-13-0---|
A|-0--0---0--0-0--0--0--0--0--0-0-9-11h-11-11-9-11-11-11-11--|
E|--------------------------------0--0---0--0-0--0--0--0--0--|

Verse Interlude
(Start with the A string part of the verse above after this interlude)
e|-5---2-|
B|-7---3-|
G|-7---3-|
D|-7---3-|
A|-5---2-|
E|-5---2-|

Chorus
e|-0---0---0---0---0---0---0---2>4---2-0---|
B|-0---0---0---0---0---0---0---2>4---2-0---|
G|-1---8---4---6---2---3---4---2>4---2-0---|
D|-2---9---6---7---4---4---4---------------|
A|-2---9---6---7---4---4---0---------------|
E|-0---0---0---0---0---0---0---------------|

End on E







Friday, January 6, 2017

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: BITTERSWEET ME

Michael has noted that this song is about an 'unformed desire' or a teenage desire, something he comes back to multiple times in the band's later albums. The narrator of the song seems lost in their own thoughts and deeply upset about the wasted time. Some more great imagery from Michael, candy floss (cotton candy), pattern shirts, the mental image of chewing one's leg off is very distancing--there's something very foreign about this desire, almost ugly. The song was released as the second single from NAIHF, but didn't chart very high and the strange video that went along with it tried to do too much. Maybe just be the short film or the band shots, but both? Michael was having some lip synch fun with a microphone, but the band collectively look like making videos is their least favorite pastime. It's a good song, maybe a little crunchy in the chorus, but catchy and a fun and recognizable Buck style patented riff that reminds the listener of his singular brilliance.


BITTERSWEET ME

I move across
Innocence lost
All flashing pulsar
I move across the earth in my new pattern shirt
I pass satellite

‘You're so bitter’
You’ll complain
I can't give you anything
I don't know who you're livin’ for
I don't know who you are anymore

I'd sooner chew my leg off
Than be trapped in this
How easy you think of all of this as bittersweet
Me

I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore

I move across
Candy floss
I move like a tank
I move across the room with a heart full of gloom
I’m stronger than you think

Oh my peer
Your veneer is wearing thin and cracking
The surface informs the underneath
Underneath is lacking

I'd sooner chew my leg off
Than be trapped in this
How easy you think of all of this as bittersweet
Me

I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore

You move across
Innocence lost
All static and desire
You're blue in the face from navel gaze
You set yourself on fire

You strip down and lay yourself out
I know you can't fake it
But are you tired and naked?
Are you tired and naked?
Yeah

I'd sooner chew my leg off
Than be trapped in this
How easy you think of all of this as bittersweet
Me

I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore
I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore
I couldn't taste it
I'm tired and naked
I don't know what I'm hungry for
I don't know what I want anymore


  The key to this song is the held Dm in the bridge to the chorus. Other than that It's really straightforward ... I've added the bass line on guitar for the middle eight ... it also sounds like there's an e-bow there for atmosphere. Maybe NAIHF should be called E-Bow the Album. I also added an unbarred F to the end of the chorus which sounds cool, but only works because of the elongated open chord press Peter does there.

BITTERSWEET ME


Intro/ Verse
e|---------0---|
B|---------0---|
G|------0--0---|
D|-----4-4-2---|
A|-0-5h----3---|
E|---------0---|

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

Chorus
e|-0---0---3-----------------1---0----|
B|-1---1---3-----------------1---0----|
G|-2---0---0------0----------2---2----|
D|-2---2---0--0-2h-2-0-------3---3----|
A|-0---3---2-----------------3---3----|
E|-0---0---3----------(x3)---1---0----|

Middle Bridge (Bass Line)
A|-5-5-7-10-12-5-7--|
E|----7-------------|

End with Intro Riff on the open G string.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: DEPARTURE

  In the Popsongs Blog Ask Michael Stipe section, Michael describes this song as similar to Undertow and Low Desert in that "they're stopping time at the moment of death to see what happened." I think this song is a little less specific than the other two, but it's intriguing that Michael is touring the world and wondering what would happen if everything just ended. He also describes the song as a storm spinning out of control. It's a whirlwind of traveling for our lead character, but the repetition of being young forever and there being 'so much that I can't do' stand out and paint a portrait of hubris and humility. There's something charming about that last admission and if I were to ascribe these lyrics directly to Michael, I would pair the song with the WAKE UP BOMB and it's lament of the rock and roll lifestyle. Close to Eddie Vedder's 'I shit and I stink, come in join the club.'
  I remember hearing this song live on the Monster Tour and enjoying it, but not getting a lasting impression of anything but a good arena rocker. I've taken the 's' off the word come because Michael never completes the word (mostly because it's an excuse for him to bellow), which got me thinking the lyric could be 'hear it come,' which is intriguing. Also, I see no reason to change the consensus 'bad' to 'back,' but I always thought it was back and it almost sounds like he closes the 'ck' consonant a couple of times. Other things, William Greider was an economics journalist for The Nation who also wrote for Rolling Stone and ptomaine is another name for food poisoning, but was based on the ingestion of rotting smells ... not a very scientific theory, but super gross smells definitely make me feel ill.



DEPARTURE

Just arrived Singapore
San Sebastian, Spain
26-hour trip
Salt Lake City come in spring over the salt flats
A hailstorm brought you back to me
Salt Lake City come in spring over the salt flats
A hailstorm brought you back to me

Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come

Departure godspeed
Bless his heart good lord
What a fuck-up, what a fighter
A free-fall, motorcycle, hang glider
Hung on the line like a, a poison spider
Win a eulogy from William Greider
A car crash, ptomaine, disposable lighter
A bus plunge, avalanche of vinegar cider
Free-fall, motorcycle, hang glider

Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it comes
Bad
Bad

Go, go, go, go, yeah
Go, go, go, go, yeah
Go, go, go, yeah

Well everybody is young forever
There's so much to tell you so little time
I've come a long way since, uh whatever
Shit I still see that word and think of you
But there is so much that I can't do
Yeah
You will be young forever
There is so much that I can't do
There is so much that I can't do

Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
Bad
Bad

Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
(I'm carried away)
Here it come
Bad
Bad

  Very easy song to play. Just a few chords, it's almost a break for the guitarist. 

DEPARTURE

Intro/ Break/ Verse
-Peter hits the 3 on the B string mostly apart from the sung verse. He also likes to end the riff line with open strings at times. Play with it to get the feel.
e|------------------------------0---|
B|----------------------------3-0---|
G|-0-2h-2-0-2h-2-0-2h-2-0-2h>4--0---|
D|----------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------|

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

Middle Bridge
e|-2---3---2---3---0---|
B|-4---3---4---3---2---|
G|-4---0---4---0---2---|
D|-4---0---4---0---2---|
A|-2---2---2---2---0---|

E|-2---3---2---3---0---|





Sunday, December 18, 2016

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: LEAVE

  If there is one song that tips the scales in favor of a new adventure for the band and this album it is LEAVE. Starting with a somber pre-song intro, the track then kicks into a repetitive, overdriven alarm that lasts for the duration of its six minutes. R.E.M. have a knack for producing long pop songs that somehow do not seem as long as they are, even though their songwriting can be repetitive (mostly on purpose). LEAVE is a song that after a couple of listens I was definitely in the camp of never really needing to hear the alarm again, but over time the sound gives some sort of comfort. Maybe its a bit of a distraction from this character who needs to get out of wherever they are. The lyrics seem to be saying that leaving what kept them down is a good thing, but the tone of the music paints a darker picture. The release at the end could be death, but I prefer to leave it open to interpretation. There is a wonderful mystique about change and transition that always makes big decisions a difficult choice; there is always a feeling that you are committing your old self to a sort of death. It is at turns sad, frightening, and bittersweet. Maybe death is that for this character ... but maybe they're moving to Michigan too.  There's part of me that wants all of these songs to be about how sad the group are to leave the comforts of recording in a studio and have to tour again.
  Eventually the song found its way into the movie 'A Life Less Ordinary' in a different version which I have also included below. The lyrics change slightly--Michael abandons the word believe in the chorus for one, which clarifies the song quite a bit--but the core is the same. I read somewhere that Michael wasn't thrilled with the album performance which spurred the revision, but the harder track has all of the R.E.M. signatures--guitar and bass take the lead while the lyrics and drums blend to the background. It's a good and thoughtful song that used to end the first half of the NAIHF, still does if you have vinyl or cassette, and feels appropriate in the context of the album.
 



LEAVE

Nothing could bring me closer
Nothing could bring me near
Where is the road I follow?
Believe it
Leave

It's under, under, under my feet
The sea spread out there before me
Where do I go when the land touches sea?
There is more trust in what I believe

That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
To leave it, leave it
Leave it all behind

Shifting the dream
Nothing could bring me further from my old friend time
Shifting the dream
It's charging the scene
I know where I marked the signs

I suffer dreams of the world gone mad
I like it like that and I know it
I know it well, ugly and sweet
I temper madness with an even extreme

That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
I say that I'm a bantam lightweight
I say that I'm a phantom airplane
That never left the ground

That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
Leave, believer
Leave it all behind

Lift me, lift me
I’ll dream a dream
I lost myself, I lost the
Heartache calling me
I lost myself in sorrow
I lost myself in pain
I lost myself in clarity memory, believe, leave, leave

That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
To leave it, believer
Leave it all behind

That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me
That's what keeps me down
To leave it, believer
Leave it all behind

Lift my hands my eyes are still I'll walk into the sea
Shoot myself in a different place and leave it

I've longed for this to take me
I've longed for my release
I've waited for the calling
Believe, leave
Leave, leave
Leave, believe
Leaving, leaving


  There is so much going on in this song, but it's actually very simple to play. There's an e-bow on the lead parts, but it also sounds like there's a guitar mirroring the verse chords on e-bow. I usually play the power chords with the muted A-string, but it sounds fuller with the muted barre. It feels like on this track and the alternate recording that the band is already heading for the electronica of UP.

LEAVE


Can be played Capo 1, but you would lose some open string action

Pre-Intro (x4)
e|-------------------------|
B|-------------------------|
G|-------------------------|
D|-------------------------|
A|-1-3-4>11-9--1-3-4>11-8--|
E|-------------------------|

Intro/ Fill (with e-bow)
e|-----------------------------------|
B|-0-3-5-6>13-10<3-5-6>13-10/11/10---|
G|-----------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------|

Verse
I’ve added the x’s because I play barred, but muted
You could play straight power chords
Power chords muting the A string sounds cool as well
e|-x---x---x---x---x>x---x---x---x--x----|
B|-x---x---x---x---x>x---x---x---x--x----|
G|-x---x---x---x---x>x---x---x---x--x----|
D|-8---4---6---8---6>8---4---6---10-8----|
A|-8---4---6---8---6>8---4---6---10-8----|
E|-6---2---4---6---4>6---2---4---8--6----|

Chorus
e|-4---6---4---4---4---6---4---2---|
B|-6---6---6---4---6---6---4---2---|
G|-6---6---6---5---6---6---5---3---|
D|-6---8---6---6---6---8---6---4---|
A|-4---8---4---6---4---8---6---4---|

E|-4---6---4---4---4---6---4---2---|

Final Intro/ Fill (with e-bow)
e|-----------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------|
D|-8-10-11>18-15-(x3)-8-6-8>10-12-8--|
A|-----------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------|








Wednesday, December 7, 2016

NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: E-BOW THE LETTER

  As the first single released from NAIHF, E-Bow showcases an inevitable collaboration between the band and Patti Smith-Peter remarked that it was surreal to be playing with an icon he had seen live in his youth. Michael has said he flat out stole most of his schtick from Patti and was surprised he was never called on it. The song itself is an atmospheric trip through a letter Michael wrote and never sent. Perhaps Patti's voice is there to balance Michael's self-disclosure, although he is careful enough to keep the character of the piece ambiguous, this feels like the beginning of a deeper and more personal lyricist, a songwriter not afraid to reveal what is bubbling underneath. The haunting use of the E-Bow compliments Patti's voice perfectly, particularly when she launches into the finale of the song. Personally I question the use of this song as the first single for this album, but marketability aside it definitely tells fans what they're in for-another departure for the band, or perhaps its a synthesis of the OOT/ AFTP era and MONSTER era. The track works so well within the context of the album it feels like a major revelation after UNDERTOW even though the album is just getting started.



E-BOW THE LETTER

Look up
And what do you see?
All of you and all of me
Fluorescent and starry, some of them they surprise
The bus ride, I went to write this—4:00 a.m.—this letter
Are fields of poppies little pearls?
All the boys and all the girls, sweet-toothed, each and every one
A little scary
I said your name
I wore it like a badge of teenage film stars
Hash bars, cherry mash, and tin foil tiaras
Dreaming of Maria Callas, whoever she is
This fame thing, I don't get it
I wrapped my hand in plastic to try to look through it
Maybelline eyes and girl as boy moves
Can take you far
This star thing
I don't get it

(I'll take you over. There. I'll take you over. There.)
Aluminum, it tastes like fear
(I'll take you over. There.)
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
It tastes like fear
(I'll take you over)

Will you live to 83?
Will you ever welcome me?
Will you show me something that nobody else has seen?
Smoke it, drink
Here comes the flood
Anything to thin the blood
These corrosives do their magic slowly, and sweet.
Phone, eat it, drink
Just another chink, cuts and dents they catch the light
Aluminum, the weakest link
I don't want to disappoint you
I'm not here to anoint you
I would lick your feet, but is that the sickest move?
I wear my own crown
In sadness and sorrow and who'd of thought tomorrow could be so strange?
My loss
And here we go again

(I'll take you over. There. I'll take you over. Take you there.)
Aluminum, it tastes like fear
(I'll take you over. There.)
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
It tastes like fear it pulls us near
(I'll take you over)

Look up
And what do you see?
All of you and all of me
Fluorescent and starry, some of them they surprise
I can't look it in the eyes
Seconal, spanish fly, absinthe, kerosene
Cherry-flavored neck and collar
I can smell the sorrow on your breath
The sweat, the victory and sorrow
This smell thing
I got it

(I'll take you over. There. I'll take you over. Take you there.)
Aluminum, it tastes like fear
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
Aluminum, it tastes like fear
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
(I'll take you over. Take you there.)
It tastes like fear it pulls us near
(I'll take you over. Take you there.)
It tastes like fear it pulls us near

(Oh, so sweet, tastes like fear)
Tastes like fear, pulls us near
(Pulls us near)
Near, near, near, near
(Over, over, over, over, over, over there
It pulls oh there)
I’ll take you there
I’ll take you there
I’ll take you there
(Oh, over)
I’ll take you there
(Over, baby)
I’ll take you over
(There, there)
I’ll take you there
(There, baby, oh)

  Not too terribly difficult here, just find the picking pattern and the primary guitar is a go. The e-bow is a little trickier, but the notes below should get you started ... lot's of fun to play even without the e-bow!



E-BOW THE LETTER

Intro/ Middle Bridge (Gm-Em)
e|-0---0--|
B|-0---0--|
G|-0---0--|
D|-5---2--|
A|-5---2--|
E|-3---0--|

Intro/ Middle Bridge (E-bow)
e|-0---0---|
B|-0---0---|
G|-7---4---|
D|-0---0---|
A|-0---0---|
E|-0---0---|

Verse (Picked)
e|-0---0---0---2---0---0---0----|
B|-1---3---0---3---1---3---0----|
G|-0---x---0---4---0---x---0----|
D|-2---5---2---4---2---5---2----|
A|-3---5---2---2---3---5---2----|
E|-0---0---0---2---0---0---0----|

Verse (E-Bow)
e|-----------------|
B|-----------------|
G|-5-7-4-9-7<5-7-4-|
D|-----------------|
A|-----------------|
E|-----------------|

Chorus (Every other time through omit G Chord)
e|-0----------0--3---|
B|-3-3-2------0--3---|
G|-2----2-2-4-0--0---|
D|-0-----4----2--0---|
A|-0----------2--2---|
E|-0----------0--3---|

Chorus (E-bow)
e|-----------------|
B|-----------------|
G|-----------------|
D|-----------------|
A|-5-7-10-5-7------|
E|-----------------|


End on D2