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Stand by R.E.M.

Album: GreenReleased: 1988Charted:
  • R.E.M. insist that there is an underlying message to this song. It is about becoming involved in the places you live and work. This can be seen in the video, where people are seen doing things like recycling. Michael Stipe told Q magazine in 1992: "It's about making decisions and actually living your life rather than letting it happen. It surprises me when I walk by a parking lot and I've been walking by that parking lot for eight years but, for the first time, I look at it and say, My God! There's a parking lot! and I wonder why, for eight years, I've chosen not to look at it."
  • This originated when guitarist Peter Buck came up with what he thought was a stupid guitar riff. Lead singer Michael Stipe recognized the stupidity of the song and tried to write equally stupid lyrics.

    Elaborating on the simplicity/stupidity of the song, Buck said in 1994: "We'll write something that's really complicated, where it changes keys in the bridge and there's these really interesting modulations and there's these great harmonies, but nobody ever notices that! You give them something like 'Stand,' where it's dumb-head plow-that-riff there, and... Not that we're going for the idiot audience or anything, but I like that kind of stuff too. The Ramones write the best songs in the world. It's all one song, but it's a great song. Some of those old Velvet Underground records have two chords on 'em."
  • Buck used a wah-wah pedal on this because he felt it's an overused and stupid effect, which would add to the dumb feeling of the song. "The wah-wah solo pretty much says it all," Bill Berry wrote in the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011. "And it was even more impressive that Pete had acquired the pedal that day."
  • This was used as the theme song to the TV series Get A Life, starring comedian Chris Elliot. R.E.M. agreed to it before ever seeing the show because they loved the phrase "Get a Life." The show was on Fox and didn't last long, probably because it was ahead of its time.
  • The single was released with different B-sides. In the United States, it came with the instrumental "Memphis Train Blues." In Europe, the song was accompanied by a cover of the Ohio Players' hit "Skin Tight."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic did a parody of this called "Spam." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    T.R. - South Bend, IN
  • This was used on the TV series Parks and Recreation in the 2012 episode "The Comeback Kid." It was also featured in the 2008 romantic dramedy Definitely, Maybe, starring Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin.
  • In an interview with Literary Mama, Katherine Dieckmann recalled how she got the gig to direct the music video: "I was doing an interview with Michael Stipe of REM and we ended up becoming good friends. We loved the same films, photographs, and music and sort of came of age in our tastes around the same time, in our mid-twenties. He could see my frustration and took a leap of faith and asked me to direct the music video for REM's song 'Stand.'"

    She continued: "I had no directing experience prior to making 'Stand' except for taking one 16 mm filmmaking course one summer at Cornell University, where some girlfriends and I made a short called I'm So Bored. Also, I used to take lots of Polaroids of landscapes and found objects at that time, and a lot of that sensibility showed up in 'Stand.'"
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Comments: 15

Whether the song was intended to be stupid or not.........it sure is infectious. It is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.Laura - El Paso, Tx
I often like this song, me and my homies go onto Youtube and i request this song,
cheers REM
Karl - Ingatestone, United Kingdom
Stipe shouldn't have claimed this song is so stupid. Otherwise I would still be thinking it fraught with deep hidden meanings. Anyway, it's a good song.Debra - Lees Summit, Mo
I couldn't STAND the video. i hated those stupid dancers.Jane - Austin, Tx
Bob from Oakland: You're right, I hadn't considered this before. I think inevitably there are always some songs that have a similar melody or riff or a few notes in common when artists try to connect 2 notes or parts of a sing with some kind of transition. It's not necessarily ripping off another song (unless done intentionally). It's just coincidence.Eric - Bend, Or
Chawsome...yea it may have been stupid, but it might be genuis.Phoebe - Belchertown, Ma
umm actually peter from texas is right b/c peter buck made a riff which he thought to be ... stupid so stipe tried to make equally stupid lyrics, people like you caught on b/c of it's catchy beat and self implied that it pertained to doing good deedsBrooke - Silver Creek, Ga
The melody of the first line of the song is identical that of the guitar intro of Richie Valens' "La Bamba" (minus "La Bamba's three lead-in notes).Bob - Oakland, Ca
i love the spam song :P weird al is brilliant....... this is a pretty good song even though R.E.M. claim that it's the stupidest song they have ever wrote.Joe - Chicago, Ar
Stacey is right; the song's not stupid.
Its message is to get your life off autopilot, look around at the place where you live and work, and get involved in your world instead of living in isolation and cluelessness (as so many do today).
Pat - Albuquerque, Nm
i thought this song was about people who are to busy doing pointless things to stop and think "why the hell am i doing this"Stacey - Nowra, Australia
I wonder what radio you listen to, EPP, if you think that stupid, meaningless songs can't become big hits.

I mean no implication that this song is either.
Mandy - Smalltown, Ny
on vh1 classic stipe says that buck would always come up with stupid riffs and he took it as a challenge to make more stupid lyrics.Peter - Fort Worth, Tx
Stipe didnt apologize for the song. He wrote it to be stupid on purpose. The song has stupid lyrics, because the song is about stupid people. It deals with those who don't take a stand politically. It's obviously not to stupid of a song, btw, if it became such a big hitEpp - Pittsburgh, Pa
Michael Stipe has often apologized for this song, claiming it was the most stupid song REM ever made.Raja - Austin, Tx
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