Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 31/03/2019 – Record/Juke Box/DJ/Radio

Thank you to Jim Adams, who hosts Song Lyric Sunday, and gives us the chance to share lots of favourite, and some not so familiar, songs.

The theme for this week is Record/Juke Box/DJ/Radio. Not all of them, you understand, but pick any one, or combine any number!

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

It’s amazing how many song lyrics don’t actually make much sense. I dare say some are drug, or alcohol induced, or influenced. Often the writer, and certainly the critics, will wax lyrical about how there is a deep, or hidden , meaning to the words. Lots of baloney will be spoken about transcendental higher planes, or searching for a new, yet unattainable awakening!

Do we really care whether Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is about LSD?

I think not, so long as the music is enjoyable, and the words are lyrical, we are content to sit back and enjoy it.

The music I’m offering to you today certainly has lyrics that, for the most part, make no sense. What’s more, the writers admit that they make no sense. Read about the song, and what R.E.M said about “Radio Free Europe.” in the Songfacts information below.

Radio Free Europe is a radio network run by the United States government that broadcasts to Europe and the Middle East. The mission of the broadcasts is to promote democracy and freedom, but R.E.M. makes the point that this can easily cross the line into propaganda.

This song was R.E.M.’s first single, released in 1981 before they signed to a major label. A better-produced version was included on Murmur, the band’s first full-length album, in 1983.

There was a good reason for Michael Stipe’s infamously indecipherable lyrics on this song: he hadn’t finished them by the time they recorded it. In a 1988 NME interview, Stipe described the lyrical content as “complete babbling.”

R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe said in a 1983 interview with Alternative America: “We were all so scared of what the other one would say, that everyone nodded their head in agreement to anything to come up. The earlier songs were incredibly fundamental, real simple, songs that you could write in five minutes. Most of them didn’t have any words. I just got up and howled and hollered a lot.

That’s true. I’ve got to write words for ‘Radio Free Europe,’ because we’re going to re-record that for the album. It still doesn’t have a second or third verse. I think there are actually lyrics to every song on the EP.”

“This song was pivotal to the continuation of our career,” drummer Bill Berry explained in Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011. “Most fans may not realize that for two years before Murmur was released, we barely made financial ends meet by playing tiny clubs around the southeast. Our gasoline budget prevented us from venturing further. Put simply, our existence was impoverished. College radio and major city club scenes embraced this song and expanded our audience to the extent that we moved from small clubs to medium-sized venues and the additional revenue made it possible to logically pursue this wild musical endeavor. I dare not contemplate what our fate would have been had this song not appeared when it did.”

Stipe noted being apparently unaware of his own genius: “The guys always said I do something harmonically here that made them all go ‘whoa,’ because it was so advanced … or something, in the ‘straight off the boat’ part. I wonder if I tricked them by accident? I still have no idea what it is they’re talking about.”

The video for this song, directed by Arthur Pierson, was shot in the famed Paradise Gardens, a folk art sculpture garden crafted by artist Howard Finster in Pennville, Georgia. Finster, a Baptist minister, also painted the album art for R.E.M.’s second album, Reckoning.

Information c/o

Radio Free Europe

Beside yourself if radio’s gonna stay.
Reason: it could polish up the gray.
Put that put that put that up your wall
That this isn’t country at all

Raving station beside yourself

Keep me out of country in the word
Deal the porch is leading us absurd.
Push that push that push that to the hull
That this isn’t nothing at all.

Straight off the boat where to go?
Calling on in transit calling on in transit
Radio Free Europe, radio

Beside defying media too fast
Instead of pushing palaces to fall
Put that, put that, put that before all
That this isn’t fortunate at all

Raving station, beside yourself
Calling on in transit, calling on in transit
Radio Free Europe, radio

Decide yourself, calling all of the medias too fast

Keep me out of country in the word
Disappoint is into us absurd

Straight off the boat, where to go?
Calling on in transit, calling on in transit
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe

Calling on in transit, calling on in transit
Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Europe

Publisher: Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Here are a couple of other recordings of the song:

From Showtime’s Rock of the 80’s – Recorded live at the Palace – Los Angeles, CA – 1984

and a compilation video

12 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 31/03/2019 – Record/Juke Box/DJ/Radio

  1. Good info on the song. REM is one of my favorite bands. Their music and lyrics — decipherable or gibberish — are inventive. Stipes voice is another musical instrument here. Great choice (I picked REM this week also, different song 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, didn’t one of the guys’ health tank and they didn’t want to continue without him? They made so much good music. I heard that Mike Mills is still going strong with collaborations.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent choice, Peter. I’ve been an REM fan from the beginning, seen them in concert three times. They are amazing performers live. If you can access it, Dan Rather (formerly of CBS news) did a fantastic interview with Mike Mills and Michael Stipe. Rather‘s show is called The Big Interview and he’s had some amazing guests. The one with Roger Waters is excellent too.

    Liked by 1 person

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