Bang and Blame

Album: Monster (1994)
Charted: 15 19

Songfacts®:

  • This is a song about domestic violence. It was written before the O.J. Simpson trial, but many people interpreted it to be about that because of the timing.
  • Lynda Stipe, sister of lead singer Michael Stipe, sang background vocals. She has been in bands like Oh-OK and Hetch Hetchy, but hasn't enjoyed the commercial success of her brother.
  • On the album, this precedes one of R.E.M.'s characteristic brief instrumental interludes.
  • Rain Phoenix also provided backing vocals for this song. The Monster album was dedicated to her late brother, actor River Phoenix, who died from drug-induced heart failure the year before, at age 23. She would later appear in the band's video for "At My Most Beautiful."

Comments: 10

  • Kevin from Hoover, AlabamaI've always taken a very different interpretation. Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe were close friends. They talked to each other on the phone shortly before Kurt killed himself. So I see this song as being Michael trying to give Kurt advice.

    If you could see yourself now, baby
    It's not my fault, you used to be so in control
    You're going to roll right over this one
    Just roll me over, let me go
    You're laying blame
    Take this as no, no, no, no, no
  • Carmen from HermosilloI recall back in the 90's when this album and single came out, Michael Stipe was asked about this song on an MTV interview (I think by Kurt Loder) and he simply said said: "It's about people who use sex as a weapon"...and that was that. I wish I could find the clip, it must be on YouTube somewhere.
  • Duc from HoustonMost REM fans know that Michael Stype is gay. This song is about a certain kind of homophobia. Men who are either questioning/confused about their sexuality, in the closet, in denial, or just plain horny and hard up for sex often find themselves having some kind of sexual interaction with a gay man. After the deed is done they turn around and blame the gay man instead of accepting the role they played in the encounter. They bully, threaten, and often physically assault the gay man - That's a bang and blame. If you read the lyrics you can see the hidden meaning. (And FYI I'm a female and long time REM fan)

    If you could see yourself now, baby,
    It's not my fault, you used to be so in control.
    You're going to roll right over this one.
    Just roll me over, let me go,
    You're laying blame.
    Take this as no, no, no, no, no.

    Swings here does not mean punches, it means swings in sexuality. Indiscreet discretions, secret life. That's denial, closeted.

    If you could see yourself now, baby,
    The tables have turned, the whole world hinges on your swings,
    Your secret life of indiscreet discretions.
    I'd turn the screw and leave the screen,
    Don't point your finger,
    You know that's not my thing.

    The next verses are about worrying if the gay man is going to tell.

    You've got a little worry,
    I know it all too well.
    I've got your number --
    But so does every kiss and tell
    Who dares to cross your threshold,
    Or happens on you way,
    Stop laying blame.
    You know that's not my thing.

    You kiss on me,
    Tug on me,
    Rub on me,
    Jump on me.
    You bang on me,
    Beat on me,
    Hit on me,
    Let go on me.
    You let go on me.


  • Anna from Seattle, WaI agree with Adam, when this album came out, everyone was like "hmmm, kinda heavy on the guitar, huh?" Not said about lyrical content. Is this a stage bands go through on the way to a dorment stage? I'm asking cause I'm just curious. My ex-brother in-laws band was doing really good for our little market (Seattle) in the mid 90's, but at the same time scouts or whatever they are were coming out to see them, the band was imploding (due to their life stage, mid to late 20's', marriage and babies, blah blah) and they got the same thing, super heavy on the guitar. I remember asking my sister-in-law how it was going and she just groaned and said "uhhhgggg, way to harsh and heavy for my enjoyment when they practice these days" Then they broke uy. up and were gone...imploded.
  • Adam from Boyce, VaI own the Monster Album and there is no real theme anywhere's on it. Only thing that's constant on it is that REM wanted to rock on this album and add alot of loud distorted guitar sound.
  • Darrell from EugeneWil in KC, KS- It's spelled "Losing". "Loosing" is not a real word, at least not in English.
  • David from San Salvador, CaREM is one of the greatest bands ever, I mean EVER...great band, you just have to love music alot to understand them more...
  • Wil from Kc, KsYes, this song was never about domestic violence. I don't know how someone ever came to that conclusion however REM has often been missunderstood. A good example is "Loosing My Religion".
  • Raja from Austin, TxI believed Michael once said it was about how attackers of women (and society in general) often blame the victims of rape. By saying they dressed for it.
  • Erin from Richmond, VaIt was never said by the band that this song was ever about domestic violence. If you know how Michael writes and you know the theme throughout the album Monster, it's more about a manipulative person maybe than an actual domestic violence. It seems like it would be more about a friends with benefit situation gone bad or something.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"They're Playing My Song

It wasn't her biggest hit as a songwriter (that would be "Bette Davis Eyes"), but "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" had a family connection for Jackie.

Strange MagneticsSong Writing

How Bing Crosby, Les Paul, a US Army Signal Corps Officer, and the Nazis helped shape rock and Roll.

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.

Billy Joe ShaverSongwriter Interviews

The outlaw country icon talks about the spiritual element of his songwriting and his Bob Dylan mention.

Michael BoltonSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for this talk with Bolton from the '80s when he was a focused on writing songs for other artists.

The FratellisSongwriter Interviews

Jon Fratelli talks about the band's third album, and the five-year break leading up to it.