What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

Album: Monster (1994)
Charted: 9 21
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  • "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
    I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
    I thought I'd pegged you an idiot's dream
    Tunnel vision from the outsider's screen

    I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
    You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

    I'd studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
    Richard said, "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy"
    A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
    You said that irony was the shackles of youth

    You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
    I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

    "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
    Butterfly decal, rearview mirror, dogging the scene
    You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
    You said that irony was the shackles of youth

    You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
    I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
    You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
    I couldn't understand

    You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
    I couldn't understand
    You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
    I couldn't understand
    I never understood, don't fuck with me, uh-huh Writer/s: Bill Berry, Michael Mills, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 18

  • Willofnc from North Carolina This article from 1997 seem to do the best to explain the whole “what’s the frequency Kenneth?”situation. Not sure it has much to do with the song:
    https://nyti.ms/3uK27fs
  • Madcaplaughs79 from Ohio Violent Green was/is a band that formed in 1993 in Seattle. So, no, he does say "you wore a shirt/ of Violent Green "
  • Apesbrain from UsaI think the whole Dan Rather connection, while true, is a red herring. The song is a eulogy spoken by a grieving parent to a teenage child who has suicided. Read the lyrics with this in mind and see what you think. "You wore our expectations like an armored suit." Sad, but amazing song from one of their best albums.
  • Dan.t from Quarantine Isn't it "You wanna shout it violent-ly" in place of shirts violent green. I read About the Dan rather attack but the song is also a about the angst in the younger generation (in the 1990's). Sure, a loud florescent green shirt could be described as "violent" but it just doesn't sound like wore a shirt to me.
  • Ronny Helmstet from Number 6Old scoll plummer boy
  • Dave from Staten Island NyJonothan from Australia, see for yourself: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Huyn9itzIw
  • Silas from Nyc, Ny"This single was the first piece of music to be released by R.E.M. that included a lyric sheet."
    Maybe the second piece. The lyrics for World Leader Pretend were included on Green.
  • Nancy from Baltimore, Mdthis was always one of my favorite songs from them. On the first season of "Friends" at Rachel's party, you can hear it in the background which shows they had good taste in music.
  • Doctor Gregory House from Princeton-plainsboro, NjThis song was featured on the original soundtrack to Bringing Out The Dead.
  • Jonothan from Adelaide, AustraliaI'm not a huge REM fan, but I think I heard once that Dan Rather was seen on a dance floor jiving away to this song. Has anybody else heard that?Now that, I would like to see!
  • Frank from Westminster, ScDid William Tager ever disclose who Kenneth is? I, too, need to know the frequency, and that info would be a big help.
  • Russ from Christchurch, New ZealandUsed as the encore on their recent tour to NZ, and it went off with a bang!
  • Peter from Fort Worth, TxI like the booklet thing for monster that just says all the random words.
  • Randi from Linton, Mei love the line "withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy." but it brings up the question of when is something withdrawal in disgust, and when is it a result of apathy...? "irony is the shackles of youth" is another good line
  • Keith from Slc, UtThis song is the bane of every broadcast engineer whose name starts with "K"
  • Epp from Pittsburgh, PaWell, its well know that this song is about a crazy man attacking anchorman Dan Rather. However, it's also kind of a joke about the media too. And yes, the last line says f--k in it and is never bleeped on the radio. Radio stations don't ever bleep the line in Bad Day eather (s--t so thick you could stir with a stick)
  • Colin from Mt Gilead, OhThe last line of the song which is never edited out from Radio Stations is "Don't f**k with me"
  • Thomas from Pittsburgh, PaThe album Green, from 1988, actually included printed lyrics, but only to one song: "World Leader Pretend."
see more comments

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