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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 198
Tues. Aug 20, 2013

“Get Up”
R.E.M.

1988

“♫ Dreams
they
complicate
my life
♫”

I woke up with Michael Stipe’s voice and bassist’s Mike Mills echoing backing vocals of “Get Up” today. It’s been a long time since I spun this lively cut from R.E.M.’s sixth studio album. After the surprising FM radio friendly jolt of “Pop Song ’89,” Green continued groovin’ along with this wide awake and I’m dreaming gem of “Get Up.” Following the serious politico vibes of 1987’s Document, Athens GA’s favorite college rock quartet opened their major label Warner Bros. debut with a one two punch and juicy power pop songs not since experienced on any R.E.M. album.

Originally singer and lyricist Stipe quoted in Craig Rosen’s R.E.M.: Inside Out: The Stories Behind Every Song describing Green’s second cut as a slice of —”great bubble gum.” Later in Rosen’s book, Michael delved deeper inside the meaning when he said, “When I sleep it’s pretty much a clearing house for everything that’s come on me. I feel very bombarded by the 20th Century in general and I accept it and revel in it but I also feel like a victim of it. I think that’s a common thing, whether people recognize it or choose not to discuss it.”

Could “Get Up” be lyrical foreshadowing of the future R.E.M. sound of Monster? Craig Rosen believes so and it sounds like it when Stipe called “Get Up,” “A very studio song. It’s got me singing at least fifteen different voices on it at the end.” Still, this was 1988 and Monster was still six years away from being brought to life. But, Rosen was partially correct, just like the songs from 1994’s Monster, Stipe wasn’t writing about his own life, it turns out that Stipe penned “Get Up” for R.E.M.’s bassist Mills as he revealed in David Buckley’s book R.E.M. Fiction: An Alternative Biography when Mike explained, “I didn’t realize until we were on the last tour; we were doing that song and Michael said it was about me. And I stopped the show and said, ‘What?” And he said, “You didn’t know?” And I said, “You never told me?” So apparently, “Get Up” is about me, ‘cos I love to sleep. It’s no so much I sleep; I just don’t like getting up in the mornings. I just prefer being awake at night.

I never knew, “Get Up” was about Mike Mills and his nocturnal siesta habits. In our household, I’m not much of a sleeper so “Get Up” is kind of like my waking up anthem. I love getting up from a deep restful slumber. You would think that with a band named sleep they would create more musical rapid eye movements. Still, “Get Up” may not be a fan favorites but it’s definitely one of the more pop sounding songs in the R.E.M. catalog.

More than just another pop album, Green was a more personally significant album to younger R.E.M. fans. What if “Get Up” was meant as Michael Stipe’s rallying cry for the disengaged Generation X? If this was Stipe’s goal he succeeded with me. Green changed my life. I remember R.E.M.’s first album for Warner Bros. being a wake-up call for me personally. Released on Election Day 1988, R.E.M. was hoping their new found buoyant sounds of Green would inspire young kids, liberal die-hards and all R.E.M. fans alike to the polls and vote for a more. Even though the band’s Democratic choice lost, I was one of those young souls that Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe inspired to be more socially conscious. Not bad for an album that went double platinum hitting number 12 on the charts but the success of R.E.M. goes beyond the numbers of sales, they inspired a generation of fans, like me, to become more globally and politically aware.

“Get Up” seems to be revolving inside my head today. Green might be remembered for being R.E.M.’s major label debut for Warner Bros, this album that inspired me to be more political minded and socially conscious contained some of the most pop songs in R.E.M.’s career. I like to believe “Get Up” was the anthem for Stipe trying to inspire Generation X to stand up for our rights. Alas, if you’re looking for the perfect R.E.M. song to help you rise in the morning, you’d be wise to wake up with “Get Up.” Set your internal alarm clocks and awaken to the glorious sounds of Mike Mills dreamy like harmony vocals of this Green pop gem.

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