These Days

It was the opening song for most of the Life’s Rich Pageant “Pageantry” Tour. So the band thought this was a rocker–and it is!  I saw them live in 1986 at William & Mary Hall, and this was the opening song.

People always talk about how Peter Buck is not a great guitarist and his songs are simple to play. I am not a great guitarist, and I find this song (as many others) to be complex–the complexity lending to its overall incredible sound.

There is not much video around from the 1980s where you can clearly see Peter Buck or what he is playing–probably owing to the fact that the video cameras were not that great and not every single person on Earth had an HD video camera in their pocket like today (and thank goodness for that).

This 2007 video gives good insight into how Peter Buck played the song–at least 21 years after he first performed it. How accurate his memory was that many years later is often something I wonder about. Michael Stipe has said he could never remember the lyrics of these songs, which is why he is seen reading lyrics to older songs in many later performances. I consider this reliable but not definitive.


I have a question still in my mind about one or two parts.  But here is the structure:

Opening: EOpen G*, E, Riff+:

These Days

Verse: [in this order: Part 1, Part 2, Part 1, Part 2, Part 2, Last Chord before Chorus]

Part 1: E, D**-A [repeat as necessary], E

Part 2: G, Riff++ [repeat the second time through]:

These Days - Verse

Last chord before the chorus^: E


E, Open F#, G, D, A, Cadd9

E, Open F#, G, D, A

E, Open F#, G, D, A, Cadd9

E, Open F#, G


These Days - bridge

IN the above, it looks like he is actually not playing the 9th fret onthe D string at the end of the riff.

We are young despite the years . . .

Live (first time I’d played it live):




*You can mute all three bottom strings if you like–very hard to tell what Peter Buck is doing, but it is too noisy with the bottom strings going.

+looks like he “bridges” the top two strings at the 2nd fret like a partial “A” bar chord.

**Just use your 2nd finger to play a quick D to the A. Or it’s the Dadd9.

++This is one part I am not sure about. I think it is just the three top strings played.

^ not sure if it is two fingers or three. Sometimes one sounds right to me–then I listen more and the other sounds right.

~This isn’t exact, but it shows you where his fingers appear to be.  There is a lot of open top two strings.


Further Reading

Just incredible video from 1986:


Possible Lyrics








2 thoughts on “These Days”

  1. First of all thank you for this amazing resource. It’s an incredibly generous gift to other REM obsessives, and I hope you find time to continue it at some point. I was listening to the guitar-only track of this song uploaded by YouTube user Joh Ph, and it made me think the E before the chorus that you play as xx4400 is actually hammering back and forth between x04400 and x24400. I was curious if you agree, Thanks again!


    1. That is interesting. I’ll look at that video and see how it sounds!! It very well could be.

      Hope soon I will get a bit more free time to write about a few of the other songs I’ve been playing.


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