World Leader Pretend

Songfacts®:

  • Frontman Michael Stipe looked back at the recording of the Green album in a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. He recalled: "For me, the big moment is 'World Leader Pretend.' It's a tribute to Leonard Cohen, using military terms to describe a battle within. I was so proud of the lyrics and my vocal take that I refused to sing it a second time. I did it once. That was it."

Comments: 7

  • Marc Merrion from Clinton Mai think the song was about Ronald Reagan...not the first time Reagan was mentioned in a song ....1969 Woodstock...Governor Reagan was Ronald Ray Guns....
  • Chris from El Paso, TxLesser known definition of pretend: lay claim to (a quality or title).

    "he cannot pretend to sophistication"
  • Kt from New York, NyI wonder how R.E.M. is enjoying that current administration's 'hope and change' now? It's funny that they love to rip apart other administrations for all sorts of corruption, but haven't said anything about how this current administration's corruption is just as bad as the rest.

    Funny how liberal rock stars get really quiet when it's the administration they supported that's being exposed for the fraud that they accused others of.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyBarack Obama? Um, just so you know, R.E.M. are huge Democrats and Obama supporters so I'd shut your dumb republican mouth.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdAnd if it had been written 25 years earlier, I would've thought it was from the perspective of Nikita Khrushchev ("I raised the wall and I will be the one to knock it down..."), although it was a distant successor of his who tore it down. Or, if written 25 years later (that's 4 years from now), from Barack Obama's. One of the great things about Stipe's lyrics sometimes is the same thing that makes Dylan's lyrics so powerful -- ambiguity. There are often so many interpretations, that they at least take on the appearance of depth of meaning. These lyrics also remind me strongly of one of Sting's songs, "Fortress Around Your Heart."
  • Brad from Lexington, KyIf this song had been written twenty years later I would've thought it was written from George W. Bush's perspective.
  • Phoebe from Belchertown, MaI love the lyrics to this song. they're amazing :)
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