Martyred Misconstrued

From a piece about the Murmur book, in Pioneer Press. (Publishing 53 weekly newspapers in suburban Chicago!)

Niimi includes an appendix spelling out Michael Stipe’s difficult-to-decipher lyrics. Niimi says he felt torn between leaving the words mysterious and pinning them down.

He listened to demo recordings and concert tapes to compare how Stipe sang the words — changing them from one performance to the next.

“I did this triangulation process, like a philologist would analyze an old Biblical text,” Niimi says.

Thanks to Niimi’s book, R.E.M. listeners finally know that the opening lines of “Laughing” are: “Laocoön and her two sons/Pressured storm tried to move/No other more emotion bound/Martyred misconstrued.”

Or are they? Niimi is hesitant to claim that his version of the Murmur lyrics is “definitive.” Besides, the amorphous quality of the words is one of the reasons Niimi and so many other people consider Murmur one of the best rock albums of all time.

“People who like it are people who like ambiguity,” Niimi says.

6 thoughts on “Martyred Misconstrued”

  1. The homeowner comment is (cleverly done) spam.I got quite a few of them on my blogs before I turned on word verification for comments.(Yet I see verification turned on here. So … ????)

  2. I checked out his site. It’s garbage, except for one awesome photo of two people in a car, clearly just about to crash headlong into something very solid. The woman driving the car looks uncannily like Anna Friel.

  3. There’s definitely a /tr/ sound in there, but that’s all I’m sure about. (Fascinating shit, eh.)I want to know more about that guy’s homeowners insurance blog. I bet those people are into all sorts of surprising stuff.

  4. In his transcription for “Sitting Still,” Niimi has:”Setting trap [sit and try] for the big kill …”I’ve always thought it was “Sitting tight for the big kill …”

  5. Great blog, I hope you keep this one up, I’ve seen too many of my favorite blogs die out…I have a home owner insurance site. It pretty much covers home owner insurance related stuff.Come and check it out if you get time.

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