What a great tune from the album that got me started on REM–Fables! We go back to the alternate Drop D tuning like in Gardening at Night, 9-9, and Windout.

Apparently the band did not play this song much live. Videos are hard to come by. This is the only one I was able to locate, but it has poor audio. You can see a lot of Peter Buck’s hand position, though.

Thanks as always to Fast Ocular for a good deal of this song that fills in the pieces.

I’ve changed a couple of things based on the live video, but otherwise, it is pretty similar to his.

Before I saw Fast Ocular’s video, I had figured out the drop D tuning from the chord Peter Buck plays at the beginning of this 1984 video–song was brand new (a lot of these old bootlegs get sped up, perhaps form the tapes being imperfect over time or just from being recorded over and over–I recorded the song and slowed it down about 5% and it sounded great):


Intro/Chorus (remember drop D tuning):

Em (lift fingers), G5/D, Em (lifting again), then:

REM - Kohoutek - chorus


Then end Chorus on G/D


Em7, D5/A, alternate between these two with the accent of this every other time:

Kohoutek - Verse transition.JPG

Then Em


For the simple “solo” Bend the 3rd fret, 2nd string and slide up from 3rd string 2nd to 4th frets):

Simple Solo











So here it is–a rough version of it anyway:




Possible Lyrics

Further Reading


7 thoughts on “Kohoutek”

  1. Hey, I’m glad to see you are back posting on your blog. I’ve always liked Kohoutek and think it is one of R.E.M.’s most underrated songs. I love the lyrics, especially the line comparing a person’s departure to the evolutionary disappearance of the flying fish. “Like a flying fish, you were gone.” You and Fast Ocular are on the money regarding how Peter plays it. It’s interesting that, at least to my untrained ears, each version of the song you’ve posted here sounds slightly different. The Dublin version clearly sounds like one of the guitars has tuned down the low E string as well as the high E string whereas the Fables demo and studio versions do not sound like that nor does the Fables-era live version. I was delighted when the band included the track on the Live at the Olympia double album and I think that version is the best one of the bunch, even though the pre-song commentary clearly shows that the band rarely played it. My guess is Ken Stringfellow or Scott McCaughey wanted them to play it. Please continue to post your videos as well on YouTube. Fast Ocular’s video’s are no longer available and I really hopes he puts them back up as they taught me a lot about playing particular song. Thanks.


  2. Any chance you’ll get to a version of ‘Stumble’ from Chronic Town? I’ve been trying to figure that one out for years – another one with little to no concert footage of.


  3. I can’t thank you enough for all these videos. I’ve been trying to figure out these REM songs since I was 14 years old (i’m 41 now). Your video instructionals have been incredibly helpful. Also nice to see there’s another early REM nut out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andrew! Me, too, and thank goodness for the advent of YouTube so I can see Peter Buck actually playing many of these songs. By the time I started seeing REM live in 1985, I could not sit close enough to see much of what Peter Buck was actually doing (though I got up front in 1986 at William & Mary for Lets Active, but there was such a crush before REM came out, that we moved to the back–you can hear Michael Stipe on that bootleg asking people to stop pushing forward and to take a step back.)

      “Although the band attempted to keep things small and appear in venues in which they felt comfortable, their ideals weren’t always accommodated. Sure, they played multi-night sets at major theaters such as Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, R.E.M. also performed for more than 12,000 fans at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va. That general admission show, which involved a crush of fans near the stage, scared the band – particularly Buck – off the desire to play more arena shows. Although no concertgoers were seriously injured, the guitarist wasn’t sure this was the size of venue R.E.M. was meant to play. ” http://diffuser.fm/rem-work-tour/

      I will try to get some more tutorials and videos up soon–just busy with family, work, etc. Thanks so much for the comment!


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