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File Under Laocoön
Of course, one of the most famous things about Murmur has always been Michael Stipe’s slurry, hazy vocals, which often it nearly impossible to determine what he was singing. Obviously — most certainly in retrospect — this was an affectation, but it was also a brilliant affectation.
Of course in some cases, it was to obscure lyrics that were either underwritten or — in the case of “Radio Free Europe” — hardly existed at all. And then when you added in Mike Mills and Bill Berry singing countermelodies or harmonies, it would get even tougher. But, of course, those of us who had fallen very deeply in love with Murmur over the summer of 1983 wanted to know exactly what he was singing — not because we thought there were deep meanings, but because we wanted to be able to properly sing along in our cars and in our rooms.