Michael Stipe was known for lacking narrative in his earlier songs (that's a bit of an ...
This name I got we all were green
See could stop stop it will red
We could bind it in the cist
We could gather, throw a fit

Up to par, and Katie buys a kitchen-size, but not me in
Sit and try for the big key, a waste of time, sitting still

I'm the sun and you can read
I'm the sign and you're not deaf
We could bind it in the scythe
We could gather, throw a fit

Up to par, and Katie buys a kitchen-size, but not me in
Sit and try for the big key, a waste of time, sitting still
I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you

This name I got we all were green
See could stop stop it will red
We could bind it in the cist
We could gather, throw a fit

Up to par, and Katie buys a kitchen-size, but not me in
Sit and try for the big key, a waste of time, sitting still
I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you

You can gather when I talk, talk until you're blue
You could get away from me, get away from me

I'm up to par, and Katie buys a kitchen-size, but not me in,
Sit and try for the big key, a waste of time, sitting still
I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you
I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you, I, I, I can hear you
Can you hear me?


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst, edited by mlganser3, photogal99

"Sitting Still" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Sitting Still song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentwell I think the song is about a band in a bar on a weeknite. playing to a very small crowd.. mostly kitchedn staff... ahem,, and a one and a rwo......
    Up to par in Katies bar
    Some kitchen staff,
    but not many in,
    something something.

    waisting time sitting still
    thank you
    varrickon January 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionMichael Stipe was known for lacking narrative in his earlier songs (that's a bit of an

    understatement). He would sing words (or fragments thereof) that felt or sounded right,

    independent of any literal meaning. Further, as songs were composed, scrapped, and re-

    composed, unrelated themes might get smashed together into one song.

    The verses of Sitting Still are inspired by Stipe's sister, Cindy (or Cyndy?) who taught

    deaf children. Her name is abbreviated to "C" in the second line. Also, there are

    versions of the song where the full third line is "We can bind it and the sister's where

    your children learn"; in most versions Stipe abbreviated the whole line, stopping at the

    first syllable of "sister", leaving the rest off. So it's not "cyst" or "scythe", but

    "sist".

    After learning the full line, I cannot listen to the album version of the song without

    hearing the full line in my head. One such version is posted below, I highly recommend it.

    As for the chorus, I've always thought it was "catch in time" not "kitchen time" or other

    silliness. I assumed that when a door is held by a bar, the metal brackets that hold the

    bar are called "catches". I could be way off, but it makes tons more sense to me than any

    kitchen reference.

    Further, the chorus quite probably is an unrelated lyric referring to the origin of the

    phrase "Katy bar the door". Background: back in 1437 a posse had gathered to murder the

    King of Scotland. The bar was removed from his chamber door ahead of time to allow the

    assassination. A member of the court, Catherine Douglass, put her arm in place of the

    missing bar to prevent the murder of the king. Her arm was broken and the king was

    murdered. Hence the reference to "the big kill" and wasting time sitting still.

    Regardless of my speculation above, listening to various alternate versions of the song

    (links below) offer very clear renditions of the vocal which, to me result in the following

    set of lyrics:


    This name I got we all agree
    C could stop, stop it well read
    We could bind it and the sist'
    We could gather throw a fit

    Up to par and Katy bars the catch in times but not me in
    Sit and try for the big kill
    Wasting time, sitting still

    I'm the sign and you can read
    I'm the sign and you're not deaf
    We could bind it and the sist'
    We could gather throw a fit

    Up to par and Katy bars the catch in times but not me in
    Sit and try for the big kill
    Wasting time, sitting still
    I can hear you

    This name I got we all agree
    C could stop, stop it well read
    We could bind it and the sist'
    We could gather throw a fit

    Up to par and Katy bars the catch in times but not me in
    Sit and try for the big kill
    Wasting time, sitting still
    I can hear you

    You can gather when I talk
    Talk until you're blue
    You could get away from me, get away from me

    I'm up to par and Katy bars the catch in times but not me in
    Sit and try for the big kill
    Wasting time, sitting still
    I can hear you

    Can you hear me?

    ---
    Of course,
    We could bind it and the sister's where your children learn

    You're the sign and we're not deaf
    (any variations of "you", "we", or "I" in either place)

    We could gather when we talk
    You could gather when we talk
    (again any variations of "you", "we", or "I" in either place)

    We could get away from you, get away from me


    References:
    members.efn.org/~d_haglof/…

    Sister line:
    youtube.com/…

    very clear vocal:
    youtube.com/…
    mlganser3on October 16, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMichael Stipe has said that this is one of his least favourite R.E.M. songs because the lyrics are 'just a collection of vowels that make no sense'. good song though. anyways, that's what i think...
    xpankfrisston June 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentstipe apparently doesn't know wat he even sang, only knew wat he wanted it to sound like...i've seen about 20 different combinations of words that all sound the same sung, if u were in a cover band u could take ur pick...

    i'm up to par/i've upped the par
    i'm up to buy
    i'm up the bar/i've upped the bar

    and katie???

    buys a kitchen size/sign?
    bars the kitchen sign(s)?

    but...

    not me in/not may ann/knocked me in

    apparently, it's based on the saying "kaite, bar the kitchen door" and the correct lyric is(or at least something of the effect to) "i'm up to par and katie bars the kitchen signs but not me in" but i prefer "i'm up to buy and katie buys a kitchen-size, but not may ann"...it's a great song, if the lyrics make sense or not
    ZinbobDanon April 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe chorus is a nod to his sister who worked with deaf kids.
    SwagBagon July 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's kinda funny how this song makes sense when your high. i think the song reflects somebody who listens to everybody's problems, experiences, etc but doesn't really care (hence the ambiguity of the lyrics, he's not really paying attention). but when it comes to his time to talk/share whatever he thinks, those who were lecturing him disregard whatever he has to say and continue to talk, being forced to sit still

    "You can gather when I talk, talk until you're blue
    You could get away from me
    Get away from me"
    everytime the person comes around to listen to the singers thoughts, they start talking over him(talk until YOU'RE blue), upsetting the singer.

    the last line is his last attempt at trying to let his thoughts out "i can hear you (meaning he's listening to the babel but doesn't care) can you hear me (am i babeling to you/do you understand me)?"

    it's funny how an ambiguously written song can have meaning to somebody. probably my favorite R.E.M. song
    smokey24on January 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis could be my fave r.e.m song ever!
    i love general way its played and michael's voice really suits the song...

    not sure what its about though
    but it could be about a person close to him...
    Karkianon November 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf you don't pay attention to the lyrics/vowels and only open your ear to hear the melody, it becomes a very romantic song. The lyrics with "we could" makes it even more romantic, like two people belonging together. Just a way to enjoy it all the better to me.
    Low Feedbackon January 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIMO. The song best represents what the concept of Murmur was; cryptic lyrics that Stipe liked to play with. One of the definitions of Murmur is to make a low or indistinct sound. I read somewhere that he tried not to enunciate on purpose. You all have it right on the lyrics since I've never heard Michael say exactly what the words are.
    Hokieguy95on April 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll I can make out for near-certain is "I can hear you," but I'm not even sure about that, and I've been listening to this song/album for years. The rest of it is "unintelligible at any speed." I'll give you credit for trying, however.
    HyperBullyon February 23, 2011   Link

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