Radio Free Europe

I don’t know that I ever realized this before, but the sung lyrics in the R.E.M. hit “Radio Free Europe” are basically incomprehensible.

Apparently, this was deliberate, perhaps much like Adriano Celentano’s intention was with the mostly gibberish lines in his 1972 song I posted a few days ago, “Prisencolinensinainciusol.”

In my January 31, 2020 post on R.E.M.’s “Drive,” I tell the story of getting to know the band’s music through a friend, and having a vision of him rocking out to “Radio Free Europe” while sitting in the passenger seat of my car.

The song, released as a single in 1981, is high-energy and one of R.E.M.’s most popular early releases.

When the band signed to I.R.S. Records, the label asked them to re-record the song for their debut album, Murmur (1983). I had no idea the album version wasn’t the original!

In the liner notes of their greatest hits/compilation album Eponymous (1988), the band tells they prefer the original. While acknowledging the later version was more “pro,” they also felt it was more sedate. I’m not sure what I think… there are great elements to both versions.

I’m posting both the 1981 and 1983 recordings — please let me know which you prefer!

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the 1983 version of song from R.E.M.’s official YouTube channel:

And, the original, 1981 single:

Full, unofficial lyrics (1983 version; the two are slightly different) are available courtesy of

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