West of the Fields

Early on when I started listening to R.E.M., I came across this song which I’ve felt has to be the most underrated R.E.M. song out there. It has long been a favorite of mine. I love the call and answer lyrics between Michael, Bill, and Mike.

I never learned to play this other than the obvious opening chords (F followed by F with bottom two strings open played as bar chords) and maybe the Em bar chord. So setting out to learn this one a few months back was from scratch.

It was hard finding a good video of Peter Buck playing this–especially one form the early 80s.  There were quite a few recent ones (everyone has a camera now, and R.E.M. was so big, I bet most of their shows were  professionally filmed for the most part for one reason or another). And I always keep in the back of my mind that the way Peter Buck played something in more recent years may not have been the way he originally played it. It helps me to remember to see Michael Stipe reading from a computer or iPad when he sings the lyrics!

You can see a lot of the chords here in this video (they are pretty much only chords with no picking or arpeggios) [in fact, watching this video again, I can see I have probably been playing the middle/end of the verse wrong with respect to the F/C chord here]:

So let’s turn to the early days–the Raleigh Underground 1982 (song is dedicated to Anna*):

There is not a lot here except confirmation of a few chords. There are only a couple of other early 80s videos of this song that I can find, so I am left with not much more than the above.

So even now, I am not sure I have this 100% right (see above about the F/C–also, I am never sure I have anything 100% right), but here is what I have:




*Who is she?


Funny discussion of the lyrics:

Further reading: https://popsongs.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/west-of-the-fields/

Possible lyrics (which we know to be wrong from the video above)

Another cool old video from 1984, Manchester:



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