Gardening at Night

Album: Eponymous (1982)
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Songfacts®:

  • R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck explained to Q magazine in 1992: "There was an old guy in my neighborhood who would be out gardening at 2 a.m. in his suit and tie. I'd see him when I was out trying to get a beer at the Magic Mart or somewhere. It's basically a metaphor for the uselessness of everything."
  • Drummer Bill Berry remembers this as being the band's first layered guitar track. He recalled in the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011: "We were novices to the studio and overdubbing capabilities of multi-track tape. Despite his youth at the time, [producer] Mitch Easter had managed to assemble a fine collection of guitars. Pete seemed to be having a blast adding guitar tracks with various 6-stringed instruments and for good reason. It sounded cool. Listen for his psychedelic touch on electric sitar during the two quiet breakdowns."
  • Michael Stipe noted this as "our first real song, all the ones before it were us counting to ten, back and forth."
  • In the 2006 compilation And I Feel Fine... The Best of the I.R.S Years 1982-1987, Berry recalled how he first heard the title phrase: "We were driving at night after a show (I don't remember where), and I was at the wheel of our old car, with a rental trailer in tow. One of my three passengers aimed a directive at me. Rather than inform me of his desire to evacuate his bladder, he instead suggested that I pull over so that he might engage in the task of roadside 'night gardening.' To four guys in their early twenties this was a glaring catalyst for a new song."

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