Empty prayer, empty mouths combien reaction
Empty prayer, empty mouths talk about the passion
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion

Empty prayer, empty mouths combien reaction
Empty prayer, empty mouths talk about the passion
Combien, combien, combien de temps?

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion

Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
Combien, combien, combien de temps?

Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion
Talk about the passion


Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst

Talk About the Passion Lyrics as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Talk About The Passion song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment

    Very intriguing. Somehow I'd never thought about the lyrics of this song referring to the capital-P "Passion". The interpretation seems well supported, particularly if Stipe's attitude is skeptical or critical; then "empty prayer, empty mouths..." would make a lot more sense. In this context, "Not everyone can carry the weight of the world" suggests we can't all be like Christ.

    OTOH Stipe has said the song is about hunger. There's a video for the song which depicts homeless people. "Combien du temps" literally means "How much time," but in this context it would be a rhetorical question: "How much longer can you look upon this suffering and not want to do something about it?" Put it another way, is the plight of the poor something we merely "talk about," or is it not a moral imperative to DO something about it?

    Considering Stipe's evident penchant for ambiguity and layers of meaning, it wouldn't surprise me if both of these interpretations were intended. It seems many people manage to read the Gospels without paying much attention to Christ's concern for the suffering of the poor, but I've always found that mind-boggling as He talks so much about it.

    Or, at least, something akin to these interpretations. Who knows what he was thinking. It's not unusual for him to be deliberately obscure -- probably in part a habit he developed so he could write about his personal emotional struggles without giving away his secrets. Think of the repetition of the phrase "don't get caught" on two of Chronic Town's songs. I don't think this was paranoia so much as a desire to keep his private life private.

    I hadn't known Stipe was raised Catholic. Don't see much here which evokes the Eucharist except "empty mouths" which could suggest someone in the queue at Mass waiting to receive the Host. But it would at least be a more economical use of language; otherwise "empty prayer" and "empty mouths" are reiterating the same concept (i.e. prayer is futile).

    foreverdroneon July 17, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Everyone who is interested in this song needs to check out the songmeanings.net page on "A lifetime", by Better Than Ezra. There is a direct reference to this song, and it's pretty interesting to see the connection to the crucifixtion theme.

    "And that R.E.M song was playing in my mind/Three and a half minutes/Felt like a lifetime".

    (Note that this song is 3:24).

    pikabooon October 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is about the crucifixion of Jesus.

    freewebs.com/thejakesite

    Jakeberton December 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Although I did think a little bit about a Christian undertone to this song, my major interpretation of it agrees more closely with what has been said was Stips's stated meaning of being about hunger and hopelessness.

    "Not everyone can carry the weight of the world" to me is more of a statement regarding the idea that it becomes unbearable to be a loving, caring person with the constant suffering that is all around us (the weight of the sadness), rather than about a messianic idea of trying to lift the world on your shoulders and save it.

    "Empty prayer, empty mouths" I think is mostly his way of creating this image of the hungry (both literal and metaphoric hunger), hopeless people, wailing to the heavens, etc, for help but going unanswered, and the passion/his "combien reaction" is his desire to help, and feeling of inability to do so.

    So to me, this song gives just a very strong feeling of seeing the pain and suffering in the world, and wanting so badly to help to see things change, but being just simply overwhelmed by it.

    greatbigclippershipon January 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    i just thought stipe was saying the 'we are the world' crowd are full of beans.

    JudeJadedon March 29, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    ever since i heard this song the first time, i've questioned if or not my prayers are, in fact, empty...this song can't not impact your life, it's challenges you every time u listen to it

    ftr, "combien du temps" approximately means "how long"

    ZinbobDanon April 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The liner notes of <i>Eponymous</i> cite this as a "hunger song". Not sure if that's literal or not.

    suckmykisson October 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I presumed this song was about depression, "Talk about the passion" is similar to "Talk about depression".

    I think Stipe is calling depression 'the passion' to give the impression of depression being something that can open ones creativity in a way not possible otherwise.

    The lyric, "not everyone can carry the weight of the world" seems self explanatory.

    nottelevisedon January 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Gorgeous, even though "Losing My Religion" came much later in his career, it's clear that he already questioned the motives of some religious people at this point. I think that's all the song is about: he doubted the motives of the faithful.

    bernlin2000on January 14, 2012   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    I'm reasonably sure this is about the Eucharist and Stipe's rejection of Catholicism.

    dontkillwhiteyon March 11, 2007   Link

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