THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 22)

There’s been a few lengthy articles in recent weeks.  I want to keep this one short(ish) and simple.

I wrote these words when offering some thoughts re Man On The Moon:-

Stipe was now in his early 30s, held up by many, in the American music press in particular, as the most important lyricist of his time and this was his very conscious effort to compose something which acknowledged his days of carefree youth were behind him…

Here’s surely another example.

mp3: R.E.M. – Nightswimming

The fifth(!!) single to be lifted from Automatic. It’s a beautiful piece of music with a lyric that could easily qualify for the Songs as Great Short Stories series. It is, arguably, the stand-out track on Automatic For The People but I don’t believe that anyone ever imagined it would make for a single, and it wasn’t released in that format in America.

But, as Jonny has pointed out previously, the UK and European markets put a much higher importance on that format and so, from the record company’s perspective, it was important to have some product on the back of Everybody Hurts, which was still getting loads of airplay months after its release as a single, and so why not another soft-ballad that would possibly appeal to the as yet not fully committed admirers of R.E.M.?

You’ll have picked up that the b-sides were proving to be problematic with all the studio snippets of jammed pieces of music having been used up and a real unwillingness of Warner Bros, to offer up songs from the IRS era. It was inevitable that, yet again, live songs would be forced into use.

The b-side to the 7″ and the cassette delivered this

mp3: R.E.M. – Losing My Religion (live – Charleston)

Yup…..give the people exactly what they are looking for!! Not the first time the breakthrough single had been pressed into service as a b-side, nor would it prove to be the last. This version was recorded at the 800-capacity Capital Plaza Theatre in Charleston, West Virginia on 28 April 1991, in a show that was akin to the London Borderline shows from Match 1991,  that have been mentioned in previous editions of this series. It’s worth mentioning in passing that a few days later, various members of R.E.M. would go into a studio back home in Athens, Georgia, along with Billy Bragg, for songs that would later appear on his album, Don’t Try This At Home.

There was just the one CD single to pick up this time, with a further three songs taken from the same show in Charleston:-

mp3: R.E.M. – World Leader Pretend (live – Charleston)
mp3: R.E.M. – Belong (live – Charleston)
mp3: R.E.M. – Low (live – Charleston)

In saying that, I’m indebted to The Robster for the info that a 12″ picture disc of Nightswimming was released in the UK, with all four songs playing at 33.33 rpm on one-side. It was the first 12″ release since Radio Song and it proved to be their last, certainly here in the UK.

I’ve just had a look back at the chart stats for the band back in 1992/93. Drive entered the UK singles chart at #14 on 3 October 1992. Nightswimming left the chart on 28 August 1993. That was a total of 46 weeks, and Warner Bros. must have been happy that 38 of those weeks had seen an R.E.M. single in the Top 75; The parent album had entered the charts at #1 on 10 October 1992 and 46 weeks later it was still sitting at #6 in the album charts, having spent only three of those weeks outside the Top 10.

Clearly, the marketing strategy was working, and you shouldn’t, therefore, be shocked that a sixth single (from an album with 12 tracks including an instrumental) would be issued. The Robster will be back next week with that one.

JC

6 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 22)

  1. Oh Man. This tune and this album are etched into my DNA. This whole record is one long summer of camping in the woods, guitars by campfires and staring in to the eyes of girls from college. Damn Man. What an album. What a song

  2. Sorry, but definately not a single and though its a nice tune it doesn’t seem to go anywhere and when l when listening to side 2 ( back in the day) felt a bit of a filler when it followed Monty got a Raw Deal, and Ignoreland, and the Man on the Moon. I’m really enjoying the series, I had no idea there had been so many ‘strange’ choices for singles.

  3. A strange and beautiful, brilliant song. Steveforthedeaf nails some of its appeal. But a strange choice for a single and the 5th single from an album is taking the piss especially with such a poor selection of B-sides. The way Find The River’s opening chords follow the end of Nightswimming is perfect too.

  4. Another song that poses the question: single? Like others before it it’s a damn fine song but a damn fine single?

    I like the art work but annoyingly not the formatting of the text.

  5. A brilliant song, but probably not a single – and certainly
    not a fifth single.

    At the time I always thought it sounded like it was
    recorded decades and decades ago. Frighteningly,
    decades and decades later that is actually now the case.

    And there’s a sixth AFTP single next? Gosh.

    Great post, JC.

  6. I agree with all of the comments about Nightswimming being well placed on the album, but not an obvious choice of single, unless you’re milking it, which of course Warners were. Best value CD single for some considerable time, though. I hadn’t heard the version of Losing My Religion from the 7″.

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