"E-Bow The Letter" as written by and Peter Buck Bill Berry....
Look up, what do you see?
All of you and all of me
Fluorescent and starry
Some of them, they surprise

The bus ride, I went to write this, 4:00 AM
This letter
Fields of poppies, little pearls
All the boys and all the girls sweet-toothed
Each and every one a little scary
I said your name

I wore it like a badge of teenage film stars
Hash bars, cherry mash and tinfoil tiaras
Dreaming of Maria Callas
Whoever she is
This fame thing, I don't get it
I wrap my hand in plastic to try to look through it
Maybelline eyes and girl-as-boy moves
I can take you far
This star thing, I don't get it

[Chorus]
I'll take you over, there
I'll take you over, there
Aluminum, tastes like fear, there
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
I'll take you over
It tastes like fear, there
I'll take you over

Will you live to 83?
Will you ever welcome me?
Will you show me something that nobody else has seen?
Smoke it, drink
Here comes the flood
Anything to thin the blood
These corrosives do their magic slowly and sweet
Phone, eat it, drink
Just another chink
Cuts and dents, they catch the light
Aluminum, the weakest link

I don't want to disappoint you
I'm not here to anoint you
I would lick your feet
But is that the sickest move?
I wear my own crown and sadness and sorrow
And who'd have thought tomorrow could be so strange?
My loss, and here we go again

[Chorus]

Look up, what do you see?
All of you and all of me
Fluorescent and starry
Some of them, they surprise

I can't look it in the eyes
Seconal, spanish fly, absinthe, kerosene
Cherry-flavored neck and collar
I can smell the sorrow on your breath
The sweat, the victory and sorrow
The smell of fear, I got it

I'll take you over, there
Aluminum, tastes like fear, there
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
I'll take you over, there
Aluminum, tastes like fear, there
Adrenaline, it pulls us near
I'll take you over
It tastes like fear, there
It pulls us near
I'll take you over
I'll take you over
It tastes like fear, there
It pulls us near
Pulls us near
Tastes like fear
Tastes like fear
Nearer, nearer
Pulls us near
Over, over, over, over
Over, over, over, over
Yeah, look over
I'll take you there, oh, yeah
I'll take you there
Oh, over
I'll take you there
Over, let me
I'll take you there
I'll take you there
There, there, there, baby, yeah


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

"E-Bow the Letter" as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

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

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E-Bow The Letter song meanings
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38 Comments

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  • +3
    General Commenti think this song is about losing a friend to the lure of fame and the pressures of people who dont have their best interests at heart.

    Look up, what do you see? All of you and all of me
    Fluorescent and starry
    Some of them, they surprise

    ^this is talking about how easily accessible the lives of the famous are and therefore how susceptible to pressure from others they are


    The bus ride, I went to write this, 4:00 a.m, this letter
    Fields of poppies, little pearls
    All the boys and all the girls sweet-toothed
    Each and every one a little scary
    I said your name

    ^about how materialistic the world is with drugs and jewels and everyone in it is consumed by this idea and it is the only thing that can satisfy them, which leads to an intimidating and sometimes destructive motivation, yet throughout it all the narrator is thinking only of how his friend will be affected

    I wore it like a badge of teenage film stars
    Hash bars, cherry mash and tinfoil tiaras
    Dreaming of Maria Callas, whoever she is
    This fame thing, I don't get it

    ^people are so proud to know famous people, but its all fake (tinfoil tiaras) and the people who think about the stars the most dont actually know anything about how they actually are, so it doesnt actually make sense


    I wrap my hand in plastic to try to look through it
    Maybelline eyes and girl-as-boy moves
    I can take you far
    This star thing, I don't get it

    ^this expands the idea of a fakeness consuming a class of people. just because you put make up on doesnt mean you actually look that way and just because you put plastic on your hand doesnt mean that it is now transparent. none of it is real


    I'll take you over there
    I'll take you over there

    ^this echoes the narrators desire to take his friend back to how it use to be, but it is also representing the temptation of an a-list life as emphasized in the way this line is said as if cult-like chanting

    Aluminum, tastes like fear
    Adrenaline, it pulls us near

    ^the falsities and the drugs are all caused by the fear of rejection and the rush of feeling wanted drags you into the cycle


    Will you live to 83? Will you ever welcome me?
    Will you show me something that nobody else has seen?

    ^this is the narrator trying to convince his friend to think in the long term and realize that actions have consequences (ex. drugs can lead to death). it then talks about the narrator's own fear of rejection because he has not succumbed to the pressure as others have


    Smoke it, drink, here comes the flood
    Anything to thin the blood
    These corrosives do their magic slowly and sweet

    ^references to the influences, such as drugs and alcohol, that are taken in by the subject and how these things slowly wear away at the person that he once was, watering him down to a mere shadow of his former self


    Phone, eat it, drink, just another chink
    Cuts and dents, they catch the light
    Aluminum, the weakest link

    ^more drug references and how people (and media) are most likely to notice the things that are going wrong. more about how drugs and being fake catch up with you in the end and are likely to cause tragic events and downfalls


    I don't want to disappoint you
    I'm not here to anoint you, I would lick your feet
    But is that the sickest move?

    ^the narrator doesnt want to be rejected by his friend by opposing his actions and not thinking that the things the subject is doing make him cool or desirable. the narrator is mocking the people who do fall for the things the subject has done


    I wear my own crown and sadness and sorrow
    And who'd have thought tomorrow could be so strange?
    My loss, and here we go again

    ^the narrator is reminding the subject that the world doesnt revolve around them and everyone has their own problems. in this specific case he is saying that he has to deal with fame too, and perhaps he is insinuating that he has handled it better, so there are other roads that one could take under those specific circumstances. it is weird for the narrator to see the person who his friend has become and realize that he has lost the person who he was originally friends with.


    I can't look it in the eyes
    Seconal, spanish fly, absinthe, kerosene
    Cherry-flavored neck and collar

    ^its hard to accept the change which people go through when encountering this type of fame. more drug references, implying that the drugs are primarily responsible for the change.


    I can smell the sorrow on your breath
    The sweat, the victory and sorrow, the smell of fear
    I got it

    ^the narrator is aware that his friend is unhappy although he has been doing what he thought would make him happy and gotten to the place that he has worked towards for so long. the narrator understands that the security and confidence which the subject was expecting did not come and the old fear was just continued.
    bobdabomb123on November 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I wore it like a bad teenage film star
    Hash bars, cherry mash and tinfoil tiaras
    Dreaming of Maria Callas, whoever she is..." the verses in this song are just unrivaled in the whole of rem's music catalogue. They reach down somwhere further than anything else. that weird organ synth thing sonds like a heart vibrating...tis amazin
    rieveon May 01, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMichael's lyrics and singing on this are AMAZING! I think its possibly about friendship between celebrities - how they understand each other's situations in terms of being a celebrity.
    And by the way, Maria Callas is an opera singer who Patti Smith said she wanted to sing like.
    And that 'weird organ synth' is in fact and e-bow, hence the name of the song.
    Little_Baby_Nothingon June 08, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthere's a few things wrong w/ this...

    the bus arrived...yes, like a badge...i believe, tho i'm not sure, it is foam, eat it, drink...in saddness...

    anyhow...peter buck wrote the music and when he played if for michael stipe he remembered this letter he wrote to river phoenix shortly before he died but never got to send...he pulled out the unsent letter and, although it was written in prose, it had such a powerful meter that it transfered right into the song...anyhow, about river phoenix's drug addiction and how easy it is to get caught up in ur success and not realize ur mistakes...

    ...i didn't really understand it, but i read a very scientifically presented account of wat the aluminum reference meant...it's sumthin like, when ur afraid ur body secretes metal-like substances and u get the taste of aluminum in ur mouth...very obscure reference indeed...the paranoia brought on by drugs brings about feelings of fear, and that taste of aluminum in ur mouth...also, the "tinfoil tiaras" r used for taking speed or cocaine
    ZinbobDanon May 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuch a pretty song.
    SoCoRocks14on April 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't want to be picky, but isn't it 'I said your name, I wore it like a badge?'
    Melatoninon May 06, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbtw...the weird organ-synth thing is actually a guitar played w/ --get this-- an e-bow!!!
    ZinbobDanon May 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commento...i didn't see that was already said...i'ts late
    i'm gonna shut up and go to bed now
    ZinbobDanon May 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPatti Smith + R.E.M.= brilliant.
    --------------
    freewebs.com/…
    fuckyouallon May 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmichael made a damn good song here. i never really knew what it was about, but im glad zibod here cleared it up. i figured it was about trying to correspond with celebs, but i didnt know it was about river phoenix and his drug problems.
    epp88on June 04, 2004   Link

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