On Nov. 21, 1992, R.E.M. released the single “Man on the Moon.” It was the second of six singles to be released from their eighth album, Automatic for the People, and would reach #30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I don’t normally include the same artist twice in one month, let alone twice in five days, but this song is a personal favorite (any song that opens with a mention of Mott the Hoople is good by me). Besides, the video is quirky.
“Man on the Moon” is another example of a songwriting style that lyrically lists names and events to capture a moment and/or emotion. There are fewer non sequiturs in this song — completer sentences and concepts — as it combines and juxtaposes school knowledge, pop culture knowledge and conspiracy “knowledge” (in 1992, the belief that comedian Andy Kaufman faked his death in 1984 was as widespread as the belief that the Apollo moon landing was faked, or that Elvis Presley was still alive).
Yeah-yeah, yeah, yeah…