"Low Desert" as written by and Peter Buck Bill Berry....
It happened fast, it's over quick
A little dust and the engine kicks
Did your hands drift down off the wheel?
A road owl hit your windshield

An eyelash or a little bit of sleep? Time stands still
Just call it now and you're on your way (hey, hey hey, hey)

All the ashtrays, cities and the freeway drives
Broken casino and waterslide
Eighteen-wheeler, payback dice
Gravity pulls on the power line

Jet stream cuts the desert sky
This is a land could eat a man alive
Say you'd leave it all behind (hey, hey hey, hey)

There's a radio tower that's egging me on
Back to the place where you never belong
Where people thrive on their own contempt
Whatever meaning is long gone, spent
If you had to guess or make bet,
Would you place yourself inside of it?
The mountains yawn, the clouds let out a sigh
"Tricked again." Let go, okay (hey, hey hey, hey, hey hey, hey)


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

"Low Desert" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Low Desert song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI think people need it to be more complicated than it is.

    "It happened fast, it's over quick
    A little dust and the engine kicks
    Did your hands drift down off the wheel?
    A road-owl hit your windshield?
    An eyelash or a little bit of sleep?
    Did time stand still?

    It's a car crash in slow motion..

    "All the ashtrays cities and the freeway drives
    Broken casinos and waterslides
    The 18 wheeler and the payback dives
    Gravity pulls on the powerlines
    A jetstream cuts the desert sky,
    This land could eat a man alive
    Let's say you'd leave it all behind"

    This is the place the crash happened in - possibly as someone made a journey from one trash city to another (My US geography isnt great).

    There's a radio tower, it's egging you on - tired and sleepy, you can see a tower in the distance. Just make it to the tower, then sleep. The Dark Tower perhaps?

    Back to the place where you never belonged
    Where the people thrive on their own contempt
    Whatever meaning is long gone spent
    If you had to guess or make bet
    Would you place yourself inside of it? - Do you really want to reach where youre heading, or would you rather veer into on coming traffic?


    The mountains yawn. the clouds let out a sigh - Life goes on around you. Old life.

    phip900on October 15, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLike most of New Adventures, though probably clearest here, it's about being stuck in a desolate, dead place and wanting to be free. It's a place where survival is possible, but death hangs in the air and the land gives off an ominous foreboding; one should flee, or risk being trapped forever. Describes a desert setting perfectly, and an apt metaphor for a wasted life.
    ripelivejamon February 04, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomething really gets me about the last lines of this song "the mountains yawn, the clouds let out a sigh..." As if the world looks on disinterestedly at the struggles of us mere mortals...
    el_hon March 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSomewhere in the Nevada desert, on the road to Vegas...
    Akakuroon May 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe first verse, in all fairness, is literally about a car crash. Surprised noe one has mentioned that...
    phip900on August 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is as ripelivejam explained it: about a desolate place. I think it describes the best the album cover photo.
    Painbeareron September 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song always makes me think of Steve Ames driving that Ryder truck in Stephen King's "Desperation" when they hit something driving through the desert. I was most likely listening to this while reading the book since they came out at the same time. I used to think the first line was "What happens fast is over quick". One of R.E.M.'s finest I think.
    Patoneon August 21, 2017   Link

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