"The Great Beyond" as written by and Mike Mills Peter Buck....
I've watched the stars fall silent
From your eyes
All the sights that I have seen

I can't believe that
I believed I wished
That you could see

There's a new planet
In the solar system
There is nothing up my sleeve

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

In all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around

Why can't we pantomime
Just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I want the hummingbirds
The dancing bears
Sweetest dreams of you
I look into the stars
I look into the moon

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for
Answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for
Answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for
Answers from the great beyond


Lyrics submitted by idiotic

"The Great Beyond" as written by Mike Mills Peter Buck

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

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The Great Beyond song meanings
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48 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentFirst, a preface. I'm not an atheist (I class myself as agnostic), or a Dawkins follower, but these are my views.

    The song, to me, seems to reflect trying to find beauty and meaning in a meaningless world, trying to understand human nature in the
    absence of a god.



    I've watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
    All the sights that I have seen

    (Finding beauty in other people and the wonders of the natural world)

    I can't believe that I believed I wished
    That you could see

    (A realisation that believing in a god does seem ridiculous, and trying to show someone else that noticing how amazing the intricacies of
    world is)

    There's a new planet in the solar system
    There is nothing up my sleeve

    (Showing that seeing something amazing can usually be explained in scientific terms, it doesen't need to be a mystery)

    I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
    I'm tossing up punchlines that were never there

    (I'm doing something impossible, I'm looking for answers where there are non, there is no one answer to the way the world works,
    no great perfect understanding; it's a billion different answers to a billion different questions)

    Over my shoulder a piano falls
    Crashing to the ground

    (Cause and effect; something happens, in this case a piano falling, and gravity forces it down, it can be explained scientifically,
    even if it looks strange)

    And all this talk of time
    Talk is fine

    (Talking about the nature of the universe in a metaphysical manner is fine, but it's just talk. Trying to find deep meaning can feed the soul,
    but sometimes evidence is needed)

    And I don't want to stay around
    Why can't we pantomime, just close our eyes

    (But I don't want to procrastinate and play along, I want to find the real answers)

    And sleep sweet dreams?
    Me and you with wings on our feet

    (dreams of an afterlife or heaven is a comforting, sweet thought, and we can cling to that if we so choose; but it's likely just a dream)

    I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
    I'm tossing up punchlines that were never there
    Over my shoulder a piano falls
    Crashing to the ground

    (covered this)

    I'm breaking through
    I'm bending spoons
    I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
    I'm looking for answers from the great beyond

    (All the beliefs that people have about finding this "perfect" realm of understanding, where everything makes sense and we are enlightened.
    People wanting a simple explanation for a complex world.)

    I want the hummingbirds, the dancing bears
    Sweetest dreams of you
    I'm looking to the stars
    I'm looking to the moon

    (again, seeing beauty in the things that we know are there, and fillus with wonder, without being supernatural.)

    and we've covered the rest, as it repeats. I'm not saying that the song is about stopping searching for enlightenment, by any means. I think it's about realising that the search is probably futile, but that the search itself makes us feel special, and that's amazing in itself; even if there probably isn't an answer out there at all.
    wic76on December 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti love this song, it's great, donno what it means, but it's great. maybe something about overcoming obsticals or something
    damelloman24on February 01, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought it was about writing good, original music, which if you look at the charts today you migth think is hard to do. My interpretation is hindered by the fact that I originally misheard the chorus as you will see in my quotes, but I put it in anyway.

    I´ve watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
    - the stars, meaning the great artists who stopped making music

    There´s a new planet in the solar system
    - a new kind of music?

    There is nothing up my sleeve
    -he doesn't know what to write next, he feels he's running out of ideas

    I´m pushing an elephant up the stairs
    - achieving the impossible, or something very hard

    I´m tossing up punchlines that were never there
    - finding new lyrics of songs

    Over my shoulder a piano falls
    Crashing to the ground
    - symbolising the descent of good music

    Talk is fine
    -but music is better

    I´m breaking through
    - obvious

    I´m bending spoons
    - again, achieving the seemingly impossible

    I´m keeping flowers in full bloom
    - keeping the band going for as long as they have

    I´m looking for answers from the grave beyond
    - looking for inspiration from the great songwriters of the past
    simsfreqon September 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI watched the stars fall silent from your eyes...I always wondered if this was a reference to crying or losing hope in your dreams, or maybe both at the same time.

    But that doesn't fit in with the rest of the song at all, does it? o.O I dunno...>.< 'Sjust my thought on it.
    Auraelyson March 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've become obsessed with this song...and from my understanding, this song is about many different elements. Andy Kaufman, of course - but not completely - Stipe being very spiritual himself, Buddhist, he can relate and understand Kaufman's Transcendental Meditation. I also think Stipe discusses the cycle of media, from what a human being in Hollywood can become through image, that which is something that is idolized, unknown to most of the world..most of the world never knew the real Andy Kaufman. They knew what Andy wanted people to percieve of him - a created image that was mass distributed, sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worse, but always for a purpose. This is true for most - to use a broad term - entertainers - in the world, and also a part of daily life. We are who we choose to be around people. It is a heavy burden when you're in the spotlight, feeling like you constantly have to entertain people and be your most famous persona. "I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs" & "Over my shoulder piano falls/crash into the ground" Is the embodiment of that, but it is also a "fuck you", giving it up, looking for something stable, sincere and the human search for truth in the universe. Perhaps some of these lyrics are meant in a romantic sense - we're all just debating here - but I've always found this song as more of relating to other human beings in the most purest form of love, that we're all in this together, looking out for your fellow man/woman, appreciating each other. Making sure our actions, thoughts, words are all considered with love and positive energy. It's a great song for turning your life around, seeking enlightenment and taking chances in your life.
    hibiscus55on December 30, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne Of Rem's best songs one of two songs written about Andy Kaufman! (see Man On The Moon)
    MyLastDayson September 01, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt was written for the "Man on the Moon" soundtrack, and was written to express Andy's views on life.
    fuckyouallon April 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song makes me feel ready for anything the day may bring.

    I'm not even that much on an R.E.M. fan. Weird.
    Foo Fighteron April 18, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song always makes me sad, i think its because of Andy Kaufman.
    MentalPatienton May 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's also about doing the impossible

    "Bending spoons"
    punk_pwincesson January 19, 2005   Link

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