Wednesday, January 28, 2015


"Nightswimming" is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released in 1993 as the fifth single from the group's eighth album Automatic for the People (1992). "Nightswimming" is a ballad featuring singer Michael Stipe accompanied only by bassist Mike Mills on piano, a string arrangement by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, and a prominent oboe by Deborah Workman in the latter part of the piece. Stipe sings about a group of friends who go skinny dipping at night, which draws from similar experiences in the band's early days.

Song meaning
The inspiration for the song has been debated by the band members. Stipe, in a 2001 Esquire article, clarified the true origin of the song. "A few years ago, I wanted to write a song about night watchmen, so I hired one to guard the R.E.M. offices in Athens. I bought him a uniform and a flashlight and everything. He turned out to be kind of crazy and called me up in the middle of the night to tell me dirty stories about the Kennedys. I wrote the song about him, but he was so paranoid he said he was going to sue me, so I changed the lyric from 'Night watchman' to 'Nightswimming.'"

Conversely in the past Mill's said, "It's based on true events", explaining that in the early 1980s R.E.M. and its circle of friends would go skinny dipping after the Athens clubs closed at night. "We'd go to parties, we'd go to the clubs and we'd go to the Ball Pump, and there would be any number of these same 50 people, so it was a very tight circle of friends." Peter Buck holds a similar interpretation. However, Stipe has denied that that is the topic of the song; rather, Stipe says the song is about a "kind of an innocence that's either kind of desperately clung onto or obviously lost." Stipe said there are autobiographical elements to the song, but insists most of it is "made up."
Nightswimming lyrics
Night swimming
 Deserves a quiet night
 The photograph on the dashboard
 Taken years ago
 Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
 Every street light reveals a picture in reverse
 Still its so much clearer
 I forgot my shirt at the waters edge
 The moon is low tonight

Night swimming
 Deserves a quiet night
 I'm not sure all these people understand
 It's not like years ago
 The fear of getting caught
 The recklessness in water
 They cannot see me naked
 These things they go away
 Replaced by every day
 Remembering that night
 September's coming soon
 I'm pining for the moon
 And what if there were two
 Side by side in orbit
 Around the fairest sun
 The bright tide that ever drawn
 Could not describe

You I thought I knew you
 You I can not judge
 You I thought you knew me
 This one laughing quietly
 Underneath my breath
 The photograph reflects
 Every street light a reminder
 Deserves a quiet night
 Deserves a quiet night

No comments: