Here is a special write up for today–the 36th anniversary of R.E.M.’s first gig, April 5, 1980, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (turned onto apartments), Athens, GA.

Pauleymack threw down the gauntlet awhile back for me to figure this one out. This is a very difficult song, and there are no live videos I could find where REM plays this.  There are very few live recordings I could find. The tablature lets you play along with it, but it is not correct.

So we have to extrapolate from how we know Peter Buck played things and his style.  And this entire post will just be a guess–by ear–which is how I learned a lot of music when I was younger and which (especially in the case of REM) turned out to be wrong (partially or substantially). Like my buddy Jay (guitarist and drummer in DLO) says, that’s just “artistic license”!

The guitar is pretty clear here:


I think the only difference between the version above and the Dead Letter Office version is the vocals and the little lead part Peter Buck lays over the top–not sure whether he would have played that part live.

So I think the tablature sounds right for C, A7, and F in the opening verse.  The Bb is played Peter Buck style (like in So Central Rain). I think in other versions he just slides the F up to the 6th fret.

The A7 for “We treat him well” is not correct at all. I think it is Am.

The little bridge/chorus (after “The road may be rough . . . “) is not F to C. It is:

F (Fsus4), Cadd9 (just slide your fingers up from the Fsus4 and open the top string)

For the bridge, I think it is G, but then Em7, then A7**, then D

Then G, Em7, A7**, D, F, G

So now for the Dead Letter Office Version:

Obviously we have to figure out the little “lead” arpeggios Peter Buck is doing–which I am not very good at. In the amazing cover below+, Matt Brown from the Theme Music Group on Facebook, does an excellent job of playing them. I just have to sit down and figure it out!

I think the first chorus is the same, but play the Bb up high.

Second Verse–all up high: C, A7***, F (regular position sounds fine), Bb, AmBb, F (Fsus4F

Second time around, just play the end of the verse as normal:

F (Fsus4), Cadd9 (just slide your fingers up from the Fsus4 and open the top string)



*Wow! At 1:20 what the heck is going on in the background? Something weird was layered in there, like a Mickey Mouse voice. Wonder what the story was on that?

**You can hear that 2nd fret, 2nd (B) string note in there), though the chord does not sound exactly right.

+Let me say that this is an incredible cover–so well done (check out the Theme Music group on Facebook):


*** I think the A7 might actually be played here (listened some more to the Dead LEtter version after I recorded my video)


Further Reading


Possible Lyrics


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