REM – Superman …. 80’s Underground Mondays

I was surprised back when I found out that REM didn’t write this song. This song was originally recorded by a late 60’s band from Beaumont, Texas called The Clique, who released it as the B-side of their only Top 40 hit… “Sugar On Sunday.” The song was written by the group’s producer Gary Zekley along with Elliot Bottler, Mitchell Bottler and Brandon Chase.

The Clique didn’t have massive success in the charts but they toured nationally with popular acts, including Tommy James and The Shondells, Grand Funk Railroad, Brooklyn Bridge, and The Dave Clark Five. They had a brief reunion in 2008.

I like the Clique’s version of this also. It has a psychedelic vibe to it which is cool. REM stuck close to the original. Mike Mills the bass player is singing lead on this song because Michael Stipe refused to play it in concert. He told a London crowd in 2008 “We’re definitely not doing that one” after a fan request in 2008.

The scratchy spoken intro is credited to a Japanese pull-string Godzilla doll. Translated loosely from the Japanese, it says, “This is a special news report. Godzilla has been sighted in Tokyo Bay. The attack on it by the Self-Defense Force has been useless. He is heading towards the city. Aaaaaaaaagh….”

The song was on the album Life’s Rich Pageant released in 1986. Superman peaked at #17 in the Mainstream Rock Charts. The album peaked at #21 in the Billboard Album Charts, #39 in Canada, #24 in New Zealand,  and #43 in the UK. 

From Songfacts

This is a slightly stalkerish song about a guy who sees himself as Superman. He believes he can “see right through” the girl (presumably using his X-ray vision) so he knows that she doesn’t really love the guy she’s with. Where it gets a little creepy is when he threatens to find her even if she’s “a million miles away.”

It’s all in good fun though. R.E.M. don’t take it too seriously – Mike Mills sang lead on the track instead of Michael Stipe.

311 covered this song at one of their Halloween shows. Lead singer Nick Hexum dressed up as… you guessed it… Superman. On their DVD Enlarged To Show Detail 2, you can see them practicing it in the bus before the show, and then you see them perform it in concert. 311 site R.E.M. as one of their major influences. Hexum and Doug “S.A.” Martinez have both commented on their love of R.E.M.

 

Superman

I am, I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening
I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything

You don’t really love that guy you make it with now, do you?
I know you don’t love that guy ’cause I can see right through you

I am, I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening
I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything

If you go a million miles away I’ll track you down, girl
Trust me when I say I know the pathway to your heart

If you go a million miles away I’ll track you down, girl
Trust me when I say I know the pathway to your heart

I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening
I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything

I am, I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening
I am, I am, I am Superman and I can do anything

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “REM – Superman …. 80’s Underground Mondays”

  1. Stipe and Buck met at a record shop where Buck worked – Stipe kept grabbing the stuff Stipe was saving for himself. Surprised the song’s not more famous – it was never a single for either band but it’s very catchy. See also XTC’s ‘That’s Really Super Supergirl’.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Moderate interpretation of the piece by The Clique. If you like some obscure songs from R.E.M. check out the album “Dead Letter Office” which shows interesting sides of their early journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t heard this in years. REM’s voices blend so well that I hadn’t noticed that Stipe wasn’t lead. I wonder why he dislikes the song so much as to refuse to lead and/or do it in concert.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It does sound like an R.E.M. written song. I do like R.E.M.’s version to the original but like both- but of course I’ve heard R.E.M.’s version hundreds of times over the years.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I too didn’t know this was a cover. It’s one of my favorites from REM. I had no idea that Stipe refused to do it at concerts. I would have been one of the disappointed concertgoers. I love The Clique’s version. Too bad it didn’t get more notice at the time. It could have been one of those songs that instantly propels you back to the 60s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess he has his reasons but I dont’ get it either. It’s one of the early ones I really liked by them…this and Fall On Me.
      They didn’t stray too far from the original song.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I’ve listened to some of their stuff…they were big in the 90s right?

        Like

      2. Yep. They were hot throughout the 90s. They split in 1998, had a reunion in 2002 and, as of 2010, are active, again. I haven’t heard any of their new stuff, yet.

        Like

  6. the only REM hit that was a cover (although they recorded quite a few good ones like “Yellow River”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Love is All Around” to name a few) but it does sound like an original. It was my least favorite track on that album, but it’s such a good record, even it is quite decent. Probably my third favorite album of theirs

    Liked by 1 person

      1. that’s the kind of funny thing – they almost never do vary much with the covers… they do the songs they really love and do an honest take on them. there’s a cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” too , which is close to the original (some might say unfortunately!,LOL)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Superman sounds like it is written for them…I don’t know why the Cliques version didn’t hit…disk jockeys should have turned it over and played that.
        I’ll have to look that one up lol

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I did to! It sounds so much like a REM song…I do like the original.. it’s little more spacey but REM didn’t stray too far from it.

      Liked by 1 person

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