Beautiful Stories Behind Beautiful Songs – R.E.M.’s Man on the Moon

Yesterday, I completely reset my phone to get rid of all the little bits of data and all the apps that I didn’t want or need anymore. After doing that, I had to get back all the apps and especially the music that I DID want on there. So I made a new playlist with all the songs that I like to listen to while I am walking to or from work. And I remembered that some of them had beautiful stories; about how they were written or recorded or performed live for the first time. About the people that inspired them or about how they were meant to be something completely different but then turned out the way they are now. And I want to pick some of these stories and share them with you. Maybe some of them you already know, others might be completely new to you. But all of the songs I am picking are the songs I am actually listening to.

After all this chatter, let’s get started already!

My first pick is the song Man on the Moon by R.E.M.

First of all, it is a f****ng awesome song, and everybody who disagrees should leave this blog immediately (no pressure, folks!). I have always liked this song a lot, from the first time I heard it when I was still a child to this very day.
When I bought a best of album of R.E.M. about a year ago and read its story in the booklet inside, I loved it even more. Why? Let me quote the masters themselves:

“With five days left before he record was mastered, we had the track completely finished except for the lyrics.” Good start, right? Oh, yes, we got the song…how do you feel about an instrumental thing for a change? NO? Well…
Okay let’s continue: “Michael was completely stumped, and was getting quite irritated with all of us leaning over his shoulder.” Well, everybody who had their boss stand behind them while typing something at work knows the feeling, right?

So, according to the story in the cd booklet, the boys decided to take a few days off. Michael Stipe drove around in his rental car on his own, singing along with the tape of the track. And then the beautiful part of the storie comes along:

“When we reconvened, Michael walked into the studio, sang Man on the Moon once, and walked out. … It was one of those magic moments I’ll remember long after the award ceremonies and photo sessions have disappeared into the mists of time.”

Quotes taken from cd booklet of The best of R.E.M. in time 1988 – 2003

And now, let’s finally listen to it: