"The Outsiders" as written by and Mike Mills Peter Buck....
You took me to the restaurant where we first met
You knocked a future shock crowbar upside my head
I got caught with the stop of the tick-tock, tick-tock clock
When you told me what you knew

Lost in the moment
The day that the music stopped
And I do remember you

Drawing patterns with a cork on the tablecloth
Promising volcanic change of plot
Where will this lead us, I'm scared of the storm
The outsiders are gathering, a new day is born

I tried to tell you I am not afraid
You looked up and saw it all across my face
So am I with you or am I against
I don't think it's that easy, we're lost in regret

Now I'm trying to remember
The feeling when the music stopped
When you told me what you knew

Lost in the moment
The day that the music stopped
And I do remember you

Drawing patterns with a cork on the tablecloth
Promising volcanic change of plot
Where does this leave us - I'm scared of the storm
The outsiders are gathering, a new day is born

Drawing patterns with a cork on the tablecloth
Promising volcanic change of plot
Where does this leave us - I'm scared of the storm
The outsiders are gathering, a new day is born

The outsiders are gathering, a new day is born
The outsiders are gathering

A man walks away when every muscle says to stay
How many yesterdays, they each weigh heavy
Who says what changes may come?
Who says what we call home?
I know you see right through me, my luminescence fades
The dusk provides an antidote, I am not afraid
I've been a million times in my mind
This is really just a technicality, frailty, reality

Uh, it's time to breathe, time to believe
Let it go and run towards the sea
They don't teach that, they don't know what you mean
They don't understand, they don't know what you mean
They don't get it, I want to scream
I want to breathe again, I want to dream
I want to float a quote from Martin Luther King
I am not afraid
I am not afraid
I am not afraid

I am not afraid
I am not afraid
I am not afraid
I am not afraid


Lyrics submitted by cerph

"The Outsiders" as written by Mike Mills Peter Buck

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

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The Outsiders song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentGood analysis caitsith. I would have to say I agree. Man...what a good song on such a good album.
    llowellon October 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has a lot of overtones of conspiracy or political scandal or rebellion. For example - "you told me what you knew"; "where will this lead us? I'm scared of the storm"; "am I with you or am I against." The rap portion seems to be mainly about having the courage to stand up for our convictions, with explicit reference to MLK and therefore political rebellion.

    My interpretation would be that this is in a general sense a song about the marginalised people under the Bush administration coming together to take back control of their destiny, which was the essence of what MLK did. The story of the song seems to be about the narrator being called to meet a friend in a restaurant, and the friend telling the narrator about something they have found out which has major political implications, and then asking the narrator to support them in the 'storm' that will follow when the information is unleashed on the world.

    "The day that the music stopped" seems to be a reference to 'American Pie' by Don McLean. This song has some significant references to political change and has been linked to JFK, RFK and MLK as well as the musical rebellion led by Bob Dylan in the 60s.
    caitsith01on October 04, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor some reason, "the day the music stopped" made me think of 9/11. dunno. I really like this song.
    SMUSER17000412on October 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy couldn't this song be about AIDS?
    Joyfulljohnsonon December 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBased on the fact that R.E.M. is 100% anti-Bush, and that Around the Sun was released a month before the elections, I belive that it is a song about the effects of the pointless war president Bush lead us to. Phrases like "Lost in the moment
    The day that the music stopped" and "A man walks away when every muscle says to stay" make reference to the paranoia and insecurity after 9/11 (just as tg73 wrote) and the reluctance of a few American soldiers to go to a foeign country to kill innocent peope.
    redrumon January 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSomehow I think this song is about the loss of Kurt Cobain...before he died Michael Stipe and him made plans to work together...
    shadeon January 25, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song isn't explicity anit-Bush. I saw them in concert the other ngiht and they said Final Straw and I Wanted to Be Wrong were their protest songs.

    He described this one as about "A revolution that almost happend"

    Now I'm jsut trying to think. I agree that the "day when the music stopped" is a reference to American Pie. But, what was the day that the music stopped that Maclean was referring too.
    RABicleon April 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentim not sure, but.....
    i went to there consert last night, before this song was sang, Michael talked about since hes came into this life, he always felt like an outsider, and then he dedicated this song to every one who is an outsider.
    fredeatsgrasson July 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI take the 'outsiders' to be the left--the liberals left feeling out of place and unrepresented by the Bush regime. This song beautifully describes that feeling after 9/11, when Bush said that anyone not for him was against him. What a strange environment it was, somehow anyone who didn't thinka long with the ultra-right didn't love their country. The Q Tip part is amazing, brings tears to my eyes and inspires me to fight for that ideal that some of us still believe America has a chance at becoming.
    abrooks148on October 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll the people that categorize people and put them in boxes or groups and exclude them from what they want to be a reality eventually have an army of people waiting to bring them down fro their injustice. "I am not afraid" perhaps not being afraid to stand up to the ignorant stereotyping bastards
    grandmabillon December 03, 2007   Link

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