Fall On Me REM Discogs Image One
Image Credit: Discogs

Moving into 1986… My first introduction to R.E.M. wasn’t the radio or MTV. It was an odd video channel on Cablevision in the early 80s in my NC hometown (my mom only had basic cable…no MTV). I’ve talked at great length with Max about this obscure video channel. I remember two VJs, one named “Dr. John” (not the musician) that wore blue scrubs and one named “Carrot Top” (not the comedian), that, of course, was a red-headed dude. I have no idea where this channel broadcast from but, it was a seriously stripped down operation. It was just rotating VJs, sitting at a desk, talking into a camera…and playing music videos. The first video I recall seeing was Radio Free Europe, the Murmur version, not the Hib-Tone single (I later found out). I was immediately hooked but, totally missed who the band was. (Interestingly, the Hib-Tone version was recorded at Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, NC and the Murmur version was recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC.) Fast forward to the end of my senior year of high school and I see some of So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) on MTV. I had no idea that this was the same band. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when Driver 8 came out (another one I like), that a buddy of mine told me who R.E.M. was…a college band out of the University of Georgia (Bulldogs). Every piece of music of theirs that I was lucky enough to catch, I loved. Finally, in 1987, The One I Love broke thru to #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and they seemed to be everywhere. Their highest charting hit was Losing My Religion, getting to #4 in 1991. Out of their entire catalog, which is gi-hugic, Fall On Me wound up being my favorite, with my introductory piece, Radio Free Europe, coming in second. I wish I had seen them live. ~Vic

Released 0n August 11, 1986, it was the third track from the album Lifes Rich Pageant. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #96 the weekend of October 4, peaking at #94 on October 11 before finally disappearing from the chart on October 25. It did better on the Album Rock Tracks, making it to #5 for one week on September 6.

RIAA Gold Album Image Two
Their first Gold album.

Image Credit: RIAA

“Of the genuinely new songs, Peter Buck’s basic music track for Fall On Me dated back to July of 1985, when Stipe had written a lyric about acid rain [but], the song had been virtually re-written, melody and lyrics, by the time it came to be recorded. Stipe, who declared in 1991 that “…this may be my favourite song in the R.E.M. catalogue…”, has described the final version as “…pretty much a song about oppression.” Trainspotters might like to know that the counter-melody used in the second verse is actually the song’s original tune.

Johnny Black (2004)
Reveal: The Story of R.E.M.
Page 123

R.E.M. Fiction: An Alternative Biography (David Buckley/2012/Google Books)
R.E.M. HQ (Official Site)
The Complete R.E.M. (R.E.M. Timeline)


His Favorite Song

29 responses to “2021 SONG DRAFT-ROUND 6 PICK 11- HINOEUMA SELECTS- ‘FALL ON ME’- R.E.M.

  1. One of my favorite songs by REM…love the background vocals and everything about it.
    On those VJ’s…if their name would have been Fred and John it would have been much easier to find. Every time I tried searching…it would come up with Carrot Top or Dr. John…the famous ones.

    • Yeah, I’ve screamed at my computer on more than one occasion over this. Considering I saw the Murmur version of Radio Free Europe on that crazy channel, it had to be 1983 because that is when that version came out. Unless some video geek caught portions of the broadcast, wherever the hell this thing broadcast from, it’s lost to history. I have spent hours crafting boolean search terms to no avail. It doesn’t help that the VJs adopted names that would obscure them via “bigger same names.” It’s like the scenes I saw in Tron at the movies that have been lost…๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿคฌ

  2. Another pick of yours I can get behind! Pretty high on my list of favorite REM songs and somewhat like your experience, the one which perhaps really got me “into” them. Prior to that, I heard “PrettyPersuasion” on radio occasionally & really liked it, but never could quite catch who it was by. Then Much Music came along & I saw the video for “Can’t Get There From Here” at times, but it didn’t really grab me (still doesn’t- ‘Fables…’ is my second favorite album by them but I think that one song is rather weak… ‘Driver 8’ off it I LOVE, and already picked here, but didn’t hear until later) but when this one came around, the video – which was neat and distinctive- was played a lot and based on that and also hearing “Cuyahoga” on air, made me go out and buy the LP. Soon after , ‘Fables’ and eventually everything they did.
    This one was always a crowd-pleaser when I saw them.

    • For such an incredible band, they had the misfortune of being alt rock a decade too early. Eighties pop and hair bands got in the way. They were the ultimate pioneers in that genre and paved the way for so many.

      Can’t Get There From Here does not sound like R.E.M. The guitar work sounds way too close to Duran Duran’s Girls On Film. I guess they were just experimenting.

      What is Much Music?

    • Much Music was the Canadian equivalent of MTV. Needless government restrictions barred Canadian cable TV from offering MTV, so after about 4 years a powerhouse Toronto radio station (well two actually, an AM and FM) set up a video cable station.

    • Goodness. Canada probably couldn’t get a fair deal from the MTV crowd for service. I think it was a while before MTV showed up in the UK. Proprietary business practices and such…

  3. How neat is it that both you and Dave were in on R.E.M. before they broke through. Being a big R.E.M. fan of course I love that album and that song from it. I like the “rounds” that almost feel like a mantra. There is something very relaxing about listening to, “Fall on Me.” Good choice, good write-up and good choice of links to follow for more information.

  4. Hans…there is one thing I totally forgot to put into my post…five strange degrees of separation. R.E.M. had a manager by the name of Jefferson Holt. He was with them until 1996 when they got rid of him for sexual harassment. Jefferson Holt is from Chapel Hill and his mother is named Bertha “B” Holt. She was an NC State Rep. for many years, representing my home county (and another one). She was quite the pioneer. My paternal grandmother was in Democratic politics in the 60s, 70s & 80s, running for local office, herself (and on first-names basis with several governors). She campaigned heavily for her favorites and “Bee” Holt was one of them. I met Bee Holt several times as a kid and remember all of her “Bee” ๐Ÿ paraphernalia all over my grandmother’s house.

    Dude. I am closer to R.E.M. than I am Kevin Bacon! ๐Ÿ˜†


    • And Jefferson was replaced by Bertis Downs, who’d been “just” their lawyer and friend before… and I got to interview Bertis this year! Fine man. Holt, on the other hand is one thing no one from that band will talk about, rather a shame since he had been highly regarded.

    • And, here is some sick irony for you… His mother, “Bee” Holt, was a pioneer in advocating for Women’s rights (ERA, that didn’t pass) and protecting married rape victims, removing protections for spousal rape. I wonder what his mother had to say about his behavior.

      Got a link to your interview?

  5. Fantastic pick Vic. This was on my short list for the draft so Iโ€™m glad you went with it. Funny Iโ€™ve never thought the song was about oppression but the again Iโ€™ve never been sure what itโ€™s supposed to be about. To me it has a vaguely environmental theme. I also really like the counter melody – really adds to the song. Great story about discovering REM and the local cable access channel

    • I think Stipe probably made that remark as a retro thought. It also has elements of Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

      That counter melody is reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair/Canticle.

      The memory of the channel haunts me to this day. I can’t find any record of it. It seems the whole history of the world is uploaded to the Internet, practically but, I can’t find one video channel. *sigh*

    • There must have been some hook-up between that station and the Charlotte recording studio for them to have early access to that video.

      A lot of music has been produced in NC. I’m sad that Mammoth Records is gone.

  6. Compared to a most in this group, I was a bit late to the R.E.M. party. Because I was basically a Top 40 singles guy well into the dawn of the 21st Century, the first song of theirs I remember hearing was their breakthrough hit “The One I Love” in 1987. That said, I quickly became a fan, and have loved their music ever since. I’m not very familiar with their earlier songs, though I do know “Superman”. After listening to ‘Fall On Me” three times, I can see why it’s your favorite. (Mine is still, and will always remain, “Losing My Religion”.)

  7. R.E.M. one of the favorites in the 80s to mid 90’s- Fall On Me – a great selection from them. I see where Stipe said the other day they will never reunite–I am good with that. They originally talked of ending the band as the new century arrived- they should have stuck with that plan.

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