Album: Collapse Into Now
. . .
File Under Deeper
A few years ago, I used to be worried that I was perhaps getting too old — but not dignified! — to make good old-fashioned dick jokes. Luckily, that was when The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report were on, and both shows — especially Stewart’s — were rife with dick jokes.
And since they’re both around my age, I figured that meant it was OK for me to do so, as well. As, clearly, did Michael Stipe — who participated in a running joke on The Colbert Report that had him just sitting on a shelf waiting to be acknowledged by Stephen — because that’s clearly at least partially the impetus for the abysmally-titled “Mine Smell Like Honey,” another highlight from Collapse Into Now.
I would dare you but I know I don’t need to
You’re going to do just what you want to
You’re going to take the leading chair at the fairground
You’re going to sing the praises of your fruit
Mine smell like honey uhh
Mine smell like honey uhh
Mine smell like huh huh huh huh
Right. The aformentioned is sung over some seriously fuzzy guitars and speedy beats, and while you would initially assume that the chorus was when Stipe sang the chorus, you would be wrong, as “Mine Smell Like Honey” is the final instant of R.E.M.’s greatest trick: the catchy-in-and-of-itself pre-chorus that is eclipsed by the chorus, a trick that went all the way back to “Talk About The Passion.”
And so with Buck switching from fuzzy fuzz to fuzzy arpeggios and Mike Mills holding the long notes on the backing vocals, the chorus of “Mine Smell Like Honey” would have killed at any time in the previous 30 years. It just happened to come at the end of those 30 years, that’s all
(Dig a holllllllllllllllllllllllllleee)
Dig a hole, dig it deeper, deeper
(Make you fallllllllllllllllllll)
Climb a mountain, climb it steeper, steeper
(Dig a hollllllllllllllllllllllle)
Dig a hole! Dig it deeper, deeper
Track a trail of honey through it all
And in a beautiful callback, I’m just guessing at what Mills is singing in the background, especially because he didn’t even bother doing anything but harmonies in the live version. Yeah, there was a live version: R.E.M. did one last performance — in July 2010 at the studio in Hansa by what used to be the wall — of some of the Collapse Into Now songs for family and friends. And you can tell that the whole thing was just as emotional as all hell. Because by this time, everybody knew. Except of course, for us, the fans, who were still blissfully unaware.
“Mine Smell Like Honey” official video
“Mine Smell Like Honey” live in Hansa Studios, 2010
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