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Now Andy did you hear about this one?/Tell me are you locked in the punch?/Andy are you goofing on Elvis? Hey baby/Hey baby, are we losing touch?
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Automatic for the People is the eighth studio album by R.E.M., released on October 5, 1992. It started production while Out of Time, their previous effort, shot up the charts. It was backed by six singles; "Drive", "Man on the Moon", "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite", "Everybody Hurts", "Nightswimming", and "Find the River", and had string arrangements by John Paul Jones. Although the album is seen as polarizing to some fans, critics have been more favorable: it was ranked at #249 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, #65 on NME's similar list, and is currently at #42 on Acclaimed Music's compilation of critics' lists.

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Tracklist:

Drive Side

  1. "Drive" (4:31)
  2. "Try Not to Breathe" (3:50)
  3. "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" (4:06)
  4. "Everybody Hurts" (5:17)
  5. "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1" (2:13)
  6. "Sweetness Follows" (4:19)

Ride Side

  1. "Monty Got a Raw Deal" (3:17)
  2. "Ignoreland" (4:24)
  3. "Star Me Kitten" (3:15)
  4. "Man on the Moon" (5:13)
  5. "Nightswimming" (4:16)
  6. "Find the River" (3:50)

Nighttroping deserves a quiet night:

  • An Aesop: The message of "Everybody Hurts" is "Don't kill yourself."
  • Book-Ends: "Monty Got A Raw Deal" begins and ends with the line "Monty, this seems strange to me".
  • Censored Title: "Star Me Kitten". The song actually says "Fuck Me Kitten", which was in fact its second titlenote , before Meg Ryan (who was filming Sleepless in Seattle in... well, Seattle, where the band recorded part of Automatic for the People) convinced Stipe to change it, saying that where she'd grown up, if such a Precision F-Strike appeared on any album, it wouldn't have been put on shelves (or at least would've gotten a "Parental Advisory" label).
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  • Concept Album: Loosely; several of the songs are about death in some way or another.
  • Continuity Nod: "The Great Beyond" features the lines "Here's a little agit for the never-believer/Here's a little ghost for the offering" as a Call-Back to "Man on the Moon", where those lines are originally from.
  • Corpsing: In "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" after the line "...and a reading from Dr. Seuss", as he apparently couldn't pronounce the name right, saying "Zeus" instead of "Seuss."
  • Darker and Edgier: Than Out of Time.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Try Not to Breathe" may or may not be about this.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Right before the last chorus of "Ignoreland", Michael is singing "I'm just profoundly frustrated by all this, so fuck you, man!" and in the instrumental transition towards the chorus is also heard mumbling "fuck 'em!". It's nowhere near as indecipherable as some of their more famous examples, but the processed vocals still can make it easy to go through the song and miss it.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The main guitar line of "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1" is panned entirely to one side. There's also a weird, mechanical, tribal percussion part in "Monty Got a Raw Deal" panned entirely to one side. It's only really audible if you're listening carefully, though.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Good luck understanding the chorus to "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite", since Stipe manages to compress the entire sentence into one second.
    Callmewhenytrytawake her up!
  • Intercourse with You: "Fuck Star Me Kitten".
  • Instrumentals: "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1".
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Drive."
  • "Just Joking" Justification: From "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite":
    Tell her she can kiss my ass
    Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
    That way she'll know that it's really really really really me, me
  • Lampshade Hanging: The final verse of the anti-Reagan Protest Song "Ignoreland" includes the lines "I know that this is vitriol, no solution, spleen-venting/But I feel better having screamed, don't you?"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite." It seems like a fun song, but it's actually about dying in your sleep. Or suicide, depending on who you ask.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite", though it comes close twice.
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: "Try Not to Breathe" appears to be written from the perspective of someone in this frame of mind.
  • Pep-Talk Song: Mike Mills said that the message of "Drive" was for kids to take charge of their own lives.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Star Me Kitten" and "Ignoreland" both drop the F-bomb.
  • Protest Song: "Ignoreland", a humongous Take That! at the Reagan administration.
  • Sequel Song: "New Orleans Instrumental No. 2" to "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Man on the Moon" was written in memory of Andy Kaufman (and became so associated with him that... well, see Titled After the Song below).
    • "Automatic for the people" is the slogan of Athens, GA eatery Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods, which the band are fans of.
  • Titled After the Song: "Man on the Moon" not only became the title of, and was used in, an Andy Kaufman Biopic, but R.E.M. provided the movie's instrumental underscore and a new song, "The Great Beyond".
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Star Me Kitten"
  • You Are Not Alone: "Everybody Hurts."
    So if you feel like you're alone... No. No. No. You are not alone.
  • You Make Me Sic: "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite".

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