R.E.M. was opening for the Human League at the Palace Theater in Los Angeles on June 11, 1983, when they got word of downpours in the South Central region of Georgia. The band is from Athens, Georgia, which is located in this area, so they tried to call their families and friends to make sure they were OK, but the phones were out because of the torrential rain. The band wrote "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" in response to this incident.
R.E.M. performed it on the television show Late Night with David Letterman in 1983 before it even had a title in what was the band's first national television appearance. The spot also inadvertently shaped the frontman's persona. Michael Stipe remembered in Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011: "They were all really nice to us, we were so green. The producers told us before the show that Dave would come over and talk to one band member after the song, and so Peter was chosen to represent us all. We made it through the song fine, but when Dave came over to talk I sat down on the floor monitor, and from that moment on, forever and ever, I was dubbed 'enigmatic.' What a crackup. Meh!"
It became the second R.E.M. single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #85. "Radio Free Europe" was their first song to chart.
Suggestion credit: Muammar - Richmond, VA, for all above
Stipe refused to lip-sync for the 1984 music video, directed by Howard Libov, which impressed bandmate Mike Mills. "I really like that Michael sang a live track when we made the video. I don't think that had been done up until that point," he said.
Doug from Whittier, CaIt's about Michael Stipe not being able to get a call from a Woman he was dating at that time in his life and she wanted to get married (we all know that didn't happen!) it says. " EASTERN TO MOUNTAIN THIRD PARTY CALL THE LINES ARE DOWN THE WISE MAN BUILT HIS WORDS UPON THE ROCKS, BUT IM NOT BOUND TOO FOLLOW SUIT" he's saying he won't get married to the Woman calling him from the East Coast, while he and the band are in New Mexico.
Ken from Philadelphia, PaI am dating myself here, but I remember watching that Letterman appearance where they first played So. Central Rain. I can't think of another song that I liked so much upon hearing it for the first time.
Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.