I remember redwood trees, bumper cars and wolverines
The ocean's Trident submarines
Lemons, limes and tangerines
I remember this
I remember traffic jams, motor boys and girls with tans
Nearly was and almost rans
I remember this

History is made
History is made to seem unfair

I recall that you were there
Golden smile and shining hair
I recall it wasn't fair, recollect it wasn't fair
Remembering it wasn't fair outside

Low ebb, high tide
The lowest ebb and highest tide
A symbol wave I must confide
I guess we took us for a ride, I guess it's just a gesture

I remember this defense, progress fails pacific sense
All those sweet conspiracies
I remember all these things
I remember traffic jams, motor boys and girls with tans
Nearly was and almost rans
I remember this...this

Low ebb, high tide
The lowest ebb and highest tide
I guess we took us for a ride, I guess it's just a gesture

At the end of the continent, at the edge of the continent
At the end of the continent, at the edge of the continent


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

I Remember California song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentomg..i can't believe nobody comment on this song.

    i thought it was beautiful and it reminds me of the time when i visit california. i miss it there so much!
    carebearx13xon May 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentApparently the scenario Stipe imagined while writing the song was "What if Lex Luthor was victorious?" In Superman III, Luthor develops a plot to blow California off the map, but of course, Superman saves the day. In this song, Michael is imagining that California HAD been destroyed, and is mourning its absence.
    driver08ukon February 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it could also be reminiscing about childhood and also be ironic since he glosses over the ugly parts, like wiith the traffic jams, just like how we gloss over the really ugly stuff and just remember the good parts. Beautiful song.
    rockmanon January 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is really cool. scarry too. A++
    12345on June 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is another ambiguous puzzler: A lot of the imagery is clear, but the underlying story is hard to tease out. What the lyrics don't show is that the tune is uniformly sad.

    It's clear that some past episode took place in California, and something that once seemed to have potential came, disappointingly, to nothing. Positive images are listed with two negative images inserted into the description (Trident submarines, which are instruments of nuclear war... and traffic jams), suggesting that something that seemed to be positive had flaws lurking beneath (submarines are not seen). The question is: what is the something? My ideas would be:

    a) A love affair.
    b) California itself. No need to allude to Luthor (from Superman I, not III) -- it is folk science that California might one day be lost to a big earthquake, which is because of its postion at "the edge of the continent" -- an odd fact to bring up if geography or geology is not relevant.

    With the mention of "history is made to seem unfair", however, another very strong possible interpretation is(c) the death of Bobby Kennedy. He was on the path to becoming president when he was shot to death in Los Angeles in 1968. He certainly had a golden smile and shining hair, and his shooting is certainly a case of history being unfair and a "nearly was" and his candidacy thus an "also ran".

    None of those interpretations is incompatible with the lyrics, although the Kennedy one seems to fit the most small points. This could be about RFK or simply a vague, lyrical song.
    rikdadon August 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou don't find many wolverines in California, though they sometimes show up in the Sierras. People used to wear that brand of boots though.

    California's full of people who almost did something with their lives. That's the "nearly was and almost rans."
    futatoriuson September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationYes its about JFK
    EternalTearsOfSorrowon July 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Nearly was and almost strands"

    /FTFY
    Riotboyon September 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Nearly was and almost strands"

    /FTFY
    Riotboyon September 10, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen the song, album was first published, I recall reading Stipe's explanation of the song and it's overall tone. He stated that it was basically a summation of his discomfort with the region as a whole; from it's culture to all of the many things it represents. There was also something about his fear of earthquakes and how the looming threat of one always weighed on his mind when he was there. As with so many REM songs, at least from the pre 1990 years, the tone of the song is accentuated by snippets of imagery and rough sketch lyrics. A lovely song.
    abawon December 19, 2013   Link

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