music · Song Lyric Sunday

#SLS — What’s the Frequency Kenneth — R.E.M.

song lyric sunday

Jim Adams is our elegant and illustrious host of Song Lyric Sunday. Jim says:

This week the prompt is Record/Juke Box/DJ/Radio. I ask again for you to be patient, and wait for me to approve your pingbacks, or you can just place your link in the comments section.

Here are the “rules”:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

REM

image link

Wikipedia says:  Monster is the ninth studio album by American rock band R.E.M., and was released on September 27, 1994. Unlike R.E.M.’s previous two albums, Monster incorporated distorted guitar tones, minimal overdubs, and touches of 1970s glam rock. Peter Buck described the album as “a ‘rock’ record, with the ‘rock’ in quotation marks.”

Songfacts says “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” is about an incident that took place on October 4, 1986, when the CBS news anchor Dan Rather was attacked on a New York City sidewalk by a crazed man yelling “Kenneth, what is the frequency.” The man turned out to be William Tager, who was caught [almost 8 years later, only] after he killed a stagehand outside of the Today show studios on August 31, 1994. Tager, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison, said he was convinced the media was beaming signals into his head, and he was on a mission to determine their frequencies.

The song slows down at the end because of bassist Mike Mills. They noticed he was in pain, but everyone followed him and finished the track. After they were done, Mills was taken to the hospital and it was discovered he had appendicitis. They never got back to redoing the song.

I put two choices of video to watch.  The first one, the official one, purposely jumps all over the place and is quite aggravating.  The 2nd one is just the music with the album cover.

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen

I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I’d studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth

You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rearview mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth

You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand

You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
I never understood, don’t fuck with me, uh-huh

Songwriters: Bill Berry / Peter Buck / Michael Mills / Michael Stipe

 

23 thoughts on “#SLS — What’s the Frequency Kenneth — R.E.M.

  1. Poor Dan Rather- he seemed to always be in the middle of a controversy towards the end of his run at CBS. It made for a great REM song though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my research I was amazed it took someone getting murdered to catch the attacker. Even more disturbing is the attacker-killer only served 12.5 years in prison and was released in 2010. That whacko is OUT THERE!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was a baseball player back in the 70’s who was shot and killed by some wacko- Lyman Bostock happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time- an estranged husband pulled up and shot into the car killing him. He didn’t even know the woman- he was just in a car full of people on their way to somewhere- the killer went to the funny farm for a few months and was released…There are hundreds of stories like that… the Dan White Twinkie defense for killing the Mayor of SF and Harvey Milk….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my favorite REM songs. So raw and right at you. I didn’t know that about Mills and the slowing down…interesting note.
    I always thought also it was a brilliant idea to write a song about.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t until last night, yes it is fascinating. I think the research said it became a well-used phrase people used in NY for some period of time.

    Like

  6. Oh yes distortion…or overdrive. Overdrive is when you turn the Gain up all of the way on the amp and turn the volume up…the sound breaks and it’s natural… some use guitar stomp boxes to make distortion.

    I love it

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hadn’t heard this before even though I thought I had all of their music. Wow, so much drama! I can relate (second hand) to the bass player slowing down. One day in church I was in the sound booth where you can get an eagle eye on everyone. The bass player started to look really shaky and pale. Someone took him a chair and I asked him through the monitor if he wanted to stop but he said no. As soon as the set was over his grandmother took him to the hospital and he, too, had appendicitis. What is it with bass players and their appendices!

    Liked by 1 person

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