A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

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: "Laoco├Ân 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.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm going to check out your home owner insurance site. There are so many ways it must relate to "Murmur."

allan said...

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 ..."

J. said...

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.

David said...

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.

allan said...

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 ... ????)