REM – Fall On Me

The song peaked at #94 in the Billboard 100 in 1986. The song was on Lifes Rich Pageant which peaked at 21 in 1986. A musician friend of mine invited me over to listen to this album. We must have played it 5 times through by night time.

Bill Berry (drummer) said the song was specifically about Acid Rain, which occurs when the burning of fossil fuels releases sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, causing rain to be acidic and threatening the environment.

Michael Stipe said about the song: “I was reading an article in Boston when I was on tour with the Golden Palominos, and Chris Stamey showed me this article about this guy that did an experiment from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, whereby he dropped a pound of feathers and a pound of iron to prove that there was… a difference in the… density? What did he prove? I don’t even know. They fall just as fast.”

From Songfacts

The video was filmed upside down in a rock quarry, and snippets of the environmentally concerned words flash on-screen throughout: “Buy” the sky, “Sell” the sky, etc. 

Before it ended up on the Lifes Rich Pageant album, R.E.M. performed a variation of this song on tour promoting their previous album, Fables of the Reconstruction. Peter Buck remembered in the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011: “And pretty much every day Michael had different lyrics or a different melody; we changed the bridge a hundred times. On the Lifes Rich Pageant anniversary box set, there is a version that is kind of what we used to do on stage. Michael wrote new words and melodies during the making of the record, which all took a bit of getting used to since we were so used to the previous versions. But no question, the one on the record is so superior.”

We didn’t forget to add that possessive apostrophe to the album title. The band intentionally left it out, or so the story goes. “We all hate apostrophes,” Peter Buck proclaimed. “There’s never been a good rock album that had an apostrophe in the title.” Beatles fans may disagree – A Hard Day’s Night and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band both employ the punctuation mark. Maybe Buck’s oft-quoted comment is meant to be taken with a dose of irony, or maybe he’s just a Stones fan (that band shunned the apostrophe for Their Satanic Majesties Request).

Fall On Me

There’s a problem feathers iron
Bargain buildings, weights and pulleys
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air
Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky

Don’t fall on me (what is it up in the air for?) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over, it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

There’s the progress we have found (when the rain)
A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign)
Building towered foresight (keep your conscience in the dark)
Isn’t anything at all (melt the statues in the park)
Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky

Don’t fall on me (what is it up in the air for?) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over, it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

Don’t fall on me

Well, I could keep it above
But then it wouldn’t be sky anymore
So if I send it to you, you’ve got to promise to keep it whole

Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky
And ask the sky and ask the sky

Don’t fall on me (what is it up in the air for?) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over, it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

Don’t fall on me (what is it up in the air for?) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over, it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

Fall on me, don’t fall on me (what is it up in the air for?) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over, it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

Fall on me, don’t fall on me

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

24 thoughts on “REM – Fall On Me”

    1. The lyrics do seem misplaced or abstract through parts of it…it’s the over all feel I guess.

      Funny thing is…every single time I see the title…the song “Count On Me” by Jefferson Starship will start an endless play in my head. Two totally different songs…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great track, one of my favorites of the whole decade. “Lifes Rich Pageant” was the first REM album I bought, on the strength of this song (mostly I was hearing it on TV via the video, which was also rather cool and very different than others in heavy rotation then) . Whole album was excellent and soon I started backtracking and getting into their small catalog prior to that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My buddy made sure I listened to it and I loved it. It was different at the time…more of a timeless feel than the synth sound that was popular.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. very much. It still sounds good but there was a degree of the right place at the right time for it… first producer IRS Records wanted to hook them up with in their first recording session wanted to add all kinds of synth flourishes and drum machine beats to their stuff and happily they refused and changed producers

        Liked by 1 person

  2. To me, this is one of those songs where it doesn’t matter what the lyrics are, it’s more about the voices being other instruments in the composition. The lyrics only enhance what is an exquisite aural experience. Can you tell I like the song?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They had their own sound without having that…uh…”80s” sound I didn’t like….like fake drums and a lot of synths.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It does kind of add to their mysterious aura they had at the time. Document with The One I Love and End Of… was the big breakthrough commercially but it’s a tougher album, with the cryptic stuff on side 2.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When they broke through with Document…I knew some who didn’t like them as much because…they were not their band or secret anymore…they were everyones…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wasn’t there at the time, I just don’t think Document’s as good as their previous records, even though the singles are more immediate and radio-friendly. For me, go to R.E.M. albums are the first four, Automatic For The People, New Adventures in Hi Fi, and Up.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I really noticed them with the Reckoning Album… Don’t Go Back to Rockville… I know some REM fans that swear by the first four…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love REM. 95% of their music appeals to me. And, I don’t own a single album. Go figure.

    I love this song in particular but, not for the words or the message. It’s just the whole package. I like Stipe’s voice. I like how they layer singing tracks. Sometimes, they sound like echos. It’s texture in a digital world.

    Do you remember Sniff -n- the Tears? Driver’s Seat? That song isn’t really about anything at all except driving but, the music is GREAT. Good lyrics are a wonderful enhancement but, I don’t need *meaning* in order to like the song. Another case in point…Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby. Empty lyrics. Great music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get what you are saying. It’s the overall feel of a song… A Whiter Shade Of Pale is another example for me…don’t know what it’s about…it’s just really good.

      Yes I covered Driver’s Seat a long time ago…I liked it. One of those you don’t hear much.

      In the 80s…REM had so many college fans…I liked them because they didn’t have the fake drums and all of the synths in their songs like other 80s acts…they were more timeless.

      I also like his voice and a lot of times…lyrics.

      Liked by 1 person

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