REM – Talk About The Passion

During my break from blogging, I was listening to everything from arena rock, to alternative rock, to newer rock music. The Replacements and R.E.M were high on my alternative list. I like the early R.E.M. songs that don’t get as much attention nowadays because of the big hits that came later.

This was the second single from R.E.M.’s debut album, Murmur. The first single was Radio Free Europe released in 1983. The guitar melody/solo in this song actually comes from multiple acoustic guitars played by Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon.

The album was rated number eight on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s. In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Murmur the 92nd greatest album of all time.

The 1988 video, directed by Jem A. Cohen, expounds on the lyrics’ references to hunger by placing images of homeless people with a multi-million dollar warship.

Michael Stipe: “I had taken a French course at college, which I dutifully flunked out of, and Linda Hopper and I thought that the phrase, ‘combien de temps,’ that is, roughly, ‘how much time?’ was deeply meaningful and beautiful. I did sing it that way and it works here, if only here. We were 22 at the time after all.”

The song is credited to Berry, Buck, Mills, and Stipe as were most of their songs except for a few covers they did. This was a smart thing they did and probably is the reason for the longevity of the band and the continued friendship they have now. Many bands break up because one or two songwriters get all the publishing rights and make much more money.

Mike Mills on Bill Berry’s contributions: He would generally come up with several ideas for each record, and he would also be a really good editor for us. He was always very much about keeping them short, getting to the hook. He didn’t want to waste a lot of time and people’s attention noodling around.

Talk About The Passion

Empty prayer, empty mouths combien reaction
Empty prayer, empty mouths talk about the passion
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion

Empty prayer, empty mouths combien reaction
Empty prayer, empty mouths talk about the passion
Combien, combien, combien de temps?

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion

Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Combien, combien, combien de temps?

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

19 thoughts on “REM – Talk About The Passion”

  1. I like this song, somehow without ever realizing that some of the lyrics were in French. I just thought I couldn’t make out what he was saying. When Murmur came out, I was in a region that wasn’t playing alternative. It was a couple years later when I discovered it, and liked it immediately.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never noticed the French either. With Stipe at that time…it was hard to tell. I had a friend that played the early albums…that is the only reason I knew some of these.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. a great song that became a favorite of mine from their catalog early on. Great video too… made more of a statement with that battleship and the cost on screen and all than a dozen news releases railing against the system ever would have.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Have to admit, I’m a really big REM fan but I never knew there was French in there…even though I understood most of Michael’s singing on this, which I often didn’t on that first album

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m embarrassed to admit it but this is one I sang all these years with one set of lyrics, only to find out today not only what the song is about but that my lyrics were wrong lol. I knew that first line but then I thought it said, “Come in. Come in. Come in to talk.” Like the person carrying the weight of the world would need to unload some of that to somebody. Thanks for clearing it up with your post πŸ™‚ Let’s see how I sing it the next time I play it πŸ˜‰ It’s funny, I read Dave’s post earlier that also covered REM and listened to the Out of Time album. I call that a sort of synchronicity!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. That’s a great song – love that guitar sound! While unlike “Radio Free Europe”, I didn’t recognize the title, but once I started listening to “Talk About the Passion,” I immediately remembered the tune.

    Regarding the lyrics, I didn’t recognize the French either – the pronunciation makes it really difficult to identify it as such. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like those older REM songs…they have a touch of Big Star in them. Peter Buck’s guitar sound was great. I didn’t know that was french either

      Liked by 1 person

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