June 16, 2006

Melodic perfection: “You Are The Everything”

I believe that there are a handful of truly flawless, perfect songs in this world. One of those songs which I love front to back and throughout each note and lyrical turn is R.E.M.’s “You Are The Everything” (from Green, 1988).

I love the feelings and senses that this song conjures up. From the lush sounds of crickets that start the song, you can almost feel the Georgia humidity on your skin. Whereas the song ‘Nightswimming’ conjures up summer from a teenage crush standpoint for me, ‘You Are The Everything’ is a collection of pure childhood memories, pristine and sad, confused and filled with hope all at once. I know of no other song that preserves so pitch-perfectly what it feels like to be a kid asleep in the backseat of your parents’ car, secure with the “peace in absolutes,” watching the stars through the windows (or, in my case, stargazing out the sunroof of the VW bus).

You Are The Everything – R.E.M.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing
I’m very scared for this world
I’m very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory

Here’s a scene
You’re in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace in absolutes
The stillness still that doesn’t end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone you are the everything

I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I’ve seen the films and the eyes
But I’m in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful
And she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty
Of the light of music
Voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me
You are here with me
You have been here and you are everything

For you alone you are the everything
For you alone you are the everything

This song contains a few of my favorite lyrics ever, including: “I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music,” and “Voices talking somewhere in the house, late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep,” as well as the whole aforementioned verse about being in the back seat laying down. Sheer loveliness, lyrical perfection.

Over the years I have heard a few covers of this song, mostly tags in concerts, but just yesterday Fuel reader/fellow chronicler John (http://kingseyeland.livejournal.com/) sent me a copy of this song covered by Redbird. Within the first ten seconds I was blown away – this is an excellent cover. Whereas R.E.M.’s is sublimely sweet & dulcet, this is an aching and honest version with a touch more twang, and a female vocalist (Kris Delmhorst) harmonizing earnestly. I like it, a worthy effort.

You Are The Everything – Redbird

I thought I didn’t know Redbird, but in researching them I saw that one of the members is Jeffrey Foucault, whom I recently posted about and whose rich voice I love. This was from Redbird’s eponymous 2005 album, which is a folk-Americana songwriter’s gem full of acoustic originals as well as a few other good covers. Recommended.

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  • wow, i think you just made me like that song even more than i did before. very nice.

    c — June 16, 2006 @ 10:20 am

  • The one that does it for me is Michael Hedge’s ‘i carry your heart’ with Graham Nash and David Crosby. Probably the only combination that could have put that poem music. But REM, man, they do know how to evoke.

    Ben — June 16, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  • First of all, thank you for the blog Heather. I just found it last week and it is already among my favorites.

    Regarding “You Are The Everything” – aside from the fact that I am a Georgia boy and was in Athens during the 80′s, this song holds a special place in my memory because the disc and the song were released on Nov. 8th, 1988. It was the day George Bush was elected and I remember being chilled (that day and every day after) by the line “I’m very scared for this world, I’m very scared for me”.

    Your other thoughts – like so many on this site – are poignant and thougtful.

    DWood — June 16, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  • Your post is almost as beautiful as that, which is also one of my faves. Thanks, (as usual),Heather.

    witchnose — June 16, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  • “You are the everything” is also one of my favorites. glad to hear i’m not the only one!

    marissa — June 16, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

  • When my best friend and I saw REM in concert for the first time (Oct. 11 2003), they played “You Are The Everything.” If my memory holds up, I think an audience member who had traveled from Ireland to see the show requested it. According to this site (http://members.iinet.net.au/~darryl74/2003.html), it was the first time the song had been performed in 12 years. Amazing moment in a show that was full of them.

    Peep the set list — it was closing night of the tour in Atlanta, the first time they’d played in their home area in a few years and they pulled out all the stops.

    Matt Gilmour — June 16, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  • An awesome song by my favorite band, gotta love the instrumentation.

    F.J. Delgado — June 16, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  • Amazing song, comes just at the right time, cause I´m just about to make a compilation entilted “R.E.M – Lost Gems” and this definitely derserves a place. Others include tunes like Harbourcoat, You, Low Desert, Suspicion, 11th Untitled…

    BTW; Gus Black does a great version of You Are the Everything, somebody has that? It was only released on a live DVD… ?!


    Anonymous — June 17, 2006 @ 6:21 am

  • Yes, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. “I look at her and I see the beauty
    of the light of music” is one of the greatest lyrics ever and that is a FACT. It’s right up there with “The afternoon world/The bees have stung the softball girls” from The Clarke Sisters by The Go-Betweens.

    The Ledge — June 19, 2006 @ 4:45 am

  • i love this song a great deal too – the demo version is totally interesting if you want me to upload it…

    Uppity Disability — June 22, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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