"I've Been High" as written by and Michael Mills Peter Buck....
Have you seen?
Have not will travel
Have I missed the big reveal?
Do my eyes,
Do my eyes seem empty?
I've forgotten how this feels.

I've been high
I've climbed so high
The light,
Sometimes it washes over me.

Have you been?
Have done will travel
I fell down on me knees
Was I wrong?
I don't know, don't answer.
I just needed to believe.

I've been high
I've climbed so high
The light,
Sometimes it washes over me.

So I dive into a pool.
So cool and deep,
That when I sink I sink,
And when I swim I fly, so high

What I want
All I really wanted
Just to live my life on high.

And I know
I know you want the same
I can see it in your eyes.

I've been high
I've climbed so high
The light,
Sometimes it washes over me.

Washes over me
I close my eyes
So I can see
Make my make believe,
Believe in me.


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst, edited by JadedMe

"I've Been High" as written by Michael Mills Peter Buck

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

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I've Been High song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentGreat song, I think it's about loss of faith (the big reveal)- that religion is a beautiful myth.
    Pretty apparent or at least strongly suggested from the lyrics-
    "I fell down on me knees
    Was I wrong?
    I don't know, don't answer.
    I just needed to believe."
    and the final bit which is a plea for meaning in the face of doubt-
    "Make my make believe,
    Believe in me."
    Having grown up in the conservative South (and attended school at UGA in Athens), religion - particularly Protestant Christianity- is a powerful influence. I think the song is a paean to recognizing that God and a happy hereafter is just a myth- but one we wish was true.
    blacke06on June 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe best way to describe this i think is 'beautifully optimistic melancholy'. this song moves me. anyways, that's what i think...
    xpankfrisston June 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCumon people! only one comment! this is their freackin best song
    whitecrowon March 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song shows radiohead's real influence over michael. its got a sparse, electronic feel to it and the drum machine intro is undeniably close. not that it's a bad thing
    ilovealkalineon May 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of the best songs on Reveal in my opinion. It's very electronic and not very acustic, but as said before, it's not necessary a bad thing.

    Anyway, this is probably one of the R.E.M. songs I've analysed most. I just love the lyrics.

    This is about a person who wants to live his "life on high", to feel the constant rush and kick of happiness, a person who wants to do everything and travel everywhere. "Have I missed the big reveal?" Kinda lives in an unrealistic way, and it pays back. This is one of the times when "life washes over him", he starts to question himself and what he have seen. What he really want is to life his life on high, and for people to believe in him. The feeling of happiness and excitement is gone, and this person is not able to see clear in this mood. I get a clear picture of being lost and confused.

    The step beetween happy and depressed is so huge, that explains "So I dive into a pool so cool and deep, that if I sink I sink and when I swim I fly so high" If he sink, he sink, and if he swim, there's this huge happiness rush over him. There is nothing in the middle. Kinda reminds me of myself and my moodswings :3 Very nice methafor.
    Hyenaon September 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI have a different interpretation of what this song means, based of course on my own life experience.

    I love this song . . . it's one of my favorite REM songs (and I have several).

    The first time I heard this was during the 2004 presidential elections, and I felt myself tearing up. It just reminded me so strongly of how much belief in the promise of the world had been in my youth and how that belief was being constantly challenged and beaten down by the news and "real life" each day.

    So, in that context, I saw someone who was naturally optimistic and gracious in their approach to life but who has grown disillusioned. They desperately want to understand what they missed . . . how they could have been so wrong. "Life washes over me," in that context isn't a good thing. It's the forces of the real world drowning their faith. They want to escape that by letting go - letting it wash them away or by soaring away from it, whatever escape they can find.

    In the end, what they really want - what they really want (as the song says ;) - is to live life on high, to be able to hold onto that once strong faith in the goodness of life and carry it with them, and to see it in other people, they way they once did. In this song, they are taking a big leap of opening up to themselves - and someone else - about their heartfelt desire because they see something in that other person they hope means they feel the same.

    That's how I interpret it anyhow.
    whitewolfbcon August 09, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt always reminds me of Fox Mulder!!!
    guttion February 09, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThe song as I understand it says that you cannot have all your life "on high", like everybody would like to. If you want to travel, not miss things, to gain experiences, you would have to take risks and sometimes the life will wash over you, which mean take you down as a big wave. And as higher you climb, the more painful is the fall.

    The line "So I dive into a pool so cool and deep, that if I sink I sink and when I swim I fly so high" is one of my favorite lines in songs that I know. You should imagine swimming in a deep pool. When you are swimming on the surface of the water you are like flying high relatively to the bottom, a divine experience if you survive. But the risk is that you can sink and die in the cool and deep water.

    Besides, there are a parallel connotations to using drugs: "I've been high", "my eyes seem empty". These are also a risky actions that brings you to point of high, but later comes the fall.

    (Sorry in advance if I have linguistic mistakes. English is not my mother tongue)
    SongReader84on November 11, 2011   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI've read that Up was one of the main influences on the sound of Kid A, and if you'd heard the album, you'd know that Stipe and co.'s heads were in the electronic place before any Radioheads were. The only difference is, R.E.M. has that electricity undertowing something of value. I find Radiohead to be all pomp and no circumstance, and find it nearly offensive that someone says that they influenced R.E.M. on a page meaning to provide forum for one of the most simply elegant lyrics I've ever heard.
    This is one of the most beautiful songs in the catalog, R.E.M.'s or anyone elses. Radiohead's best stuff, by the way, can't touch R.E.M.'s worst.
    abrooks148on October 14, 2007   Link

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