REM – So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)

I’ll be back posting this coming Friday, September 2. Thanks for stopping by!

Love this song from Peter Bucks jangling intro to the song’s melody. The origin of this song came on June 11, 1983. REM was opening up for the Human League in Los Angelos and heard about bad rainstorms in south Georgia where they were from. They were trying to call their families but the phones were down because of the torrential rain.

Harborcoat by R.E.M. from the album Reckoning

The song was on their Reckoning album released in 1984. It peaked at #27 on the Billboard Album Charts, #23 in New Zealand, and #91 in the UK in 1984. REM. avoided the sophomore slump with Reckoning. It’s hard to beat this song as the first single off the album. I always thought So. Central Rain stands as one of the group’s most melodic songs.

The band chose to work with Murmur producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter. They recorded the album in just a few weeks. Peter Buck told Rolling Stone magazine:  “We were going through this streak where we were writing two good songs a week, We just wanted to do it; whenever we had a new batch of songs, it was time to record!”

The cover art to the album came from Stipe.  The drawing of a two-headed snake which he gave to artist Howard Finster to fill in as a painting. A Georgian artist and Baptist minister, Finster claimed to be inspired by God to spread the gospel through the design of his swampy land into Paradise Garden, a folk and art sculpture garden in his native state which can also be seen in the video for Radio Free Europe.

The song peaked at #85 on the Billboard 100 and #43 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.

REM performed this song on The David Letterman Show in October of 1983 before it had a title. It was their first national TV appearance.

Michael Stipe: “They were all really nice to us, we were so green. The producers told us before the show that Dave would come over and talk to one band member after the song, and so Peter was chosen to represent us all. We made it through the song fine, but when Dave came over to talk I sat down on the floor monitor, and from that moment on, forever and ever, I was dubbed ‘enigmatic.’ What a crackup. Meh!”

They played two songs…this one is at the 7:10 mark.

So Central Rain (I’m Sorry)

Did you never call? I waited for your call
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The trees will bend, the cities wash away
The city on the river there is a girl without a dream
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Eastern to Mountain, third party call, the lines are down
The wise man built his words upon the rocks
But I’m not bound to follow suit
The trees will bend, the conversation’s dimmed
Go build yourself another home, this choice isn’t mine
I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Did you never call? I waited for your call
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The ocean sang, the conversation’s dimmed
Go build yourself another dream, this choice isn’t mine
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

34 thoughts on “REM – So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”

  1. A great song – one of the first ones by them that really became a favorite of mine (even though it wasn’t until a couple of years after it came out). And you managed to teach me something – I didn’t know why it was called “So. Central Rain” ! (and another trivia bit about that, most people say ‘south central rain’ but look closely enough at the cover and liner notes and you see it listed as Southern central rain.) finster was a cool artist – lots of folk art works with pop culture like Coke signs and fat Elvis mixed with angels and religious icons. Had a friend who went and visited his PAradise Gardens when the man was very old, she found him chatty and pleasant and he quickly doodled a school bus picture and gave it to her!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is awesome of that artist! I love when people like that are personable.
      I knew this song well and I liked it because lets face it…it’s jangly rock! I was in for a big surprise looking up info about the song…some people have this rated as their number 1 R.E.M. song! I was surprised about that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. it’s long been a popular one in their catalog… they did it every concert I saw and in general it seemed like one of their regular and very popular concert staples.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I really regret not seeing them. I do remember these songs from that friend of mine I told you about…he and his brother opened the door for me with The Replacements, Big Star, and REM…so that was a great introduction. I believe Reckoning was my introduction to REM thinking back.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. they definitely were good live… I actually regret not going to the ‘Green’ tour show in Toronto, I rather wanted to but for whatever reason didn’t. I caught all their performances there after that. As an aside, Clint Harp, the carpenter who was used on ‘Fixer Upper’ and has a show or two of his own about restoration, was from GA and said that REM was the first show he saw. That made me like him a bit more!

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      4. Yea my two regrets from the 80s are The Replacements and REM… I do wish I would have seen both.

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  2. Nice tune I don’t recall I had before unlike “Radio Free Europe.” As to that Letterman clip, first of all kudos Dave for having given the band their first opportunity to perform on national TV. That was pretty cool. I will say Michael Stipes’ behavior to sit down was pretty awkward. And his hair? Reminds me a bit of a young Roger Daltrey!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was kind of awkward I agree…they were probably nervous as all get out. I’ve been listening while I worked on things to Arena Rock, Alternative Rock (Replacements and REM), Power Pop, and Blues…

      Yes I do see a resemblance between the two at that time!

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    1. I had to look that up Graham…what a cool story… Time After Time off of Reckoning.
      With REM I like their earlier stuff more….with The Replacements I tend to like from Hootenanny on….although some of the punk stuff I did like.

      Graham…off topic but have you heard of the band The Builders and Butchers? Just curious…they released their debut in 2007.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, there’s good stuff right through REM’s discography, but the first four are far and away their most consistent era. Side two of Document is surprisingly difficult/esoteric, given it was their commercial breakthrough.

        I have never heard of The Builders and Butchers. They sound cool though – not miles away from The Decemberists.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Funny you bring up the Decemberists up… they did influence them… I never heard of them until I read that about Butchers…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I’m looking forward to being back…had to declutter our house because Baileys German girlfriend is staying with us. It’s very interesting to talk to her about the differences between Germany and here.

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    1. Them and The Replacements were really renegades in a lot of ways…especially the Replacements. I liked how both did things different…..btw…I’ll be back for good Thursday…I sure miss this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There aren’t many REM songs I don’t like. Difficult to pick favorites, but this one is in the favorites bunch. Thanks for finding and sharing the Letterman performance. I like what Stipe said about his sitting down. Actually what he did was just right. Too often other “non-lead” band members get neglected and bask only in the shadows. By letting Mills and Buck speak, it gave them the recognition they deserved and also probably served Stipe with that mysterious/enigmatic designation.

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