This here is the place where I will be staying
There isn't a number, you can call the pay phone
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time
If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more, oh
If I don't pick up, pick up
The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

There are scratches all around the coin slot
Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up
But this machine can only swallow money
You can't lay a patch by computer design
It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs
Tell her
Tell her she can kiss my ass
Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
That way she'll know that it's really, really, really, really me

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

Baby, instant soup doesn't really grab me
Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice
A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

The cat in the hat came back, wreaked a lot of havoc on the way
Always had a smile and a reason to pretend
But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream
The sidewinder sleeps on his back

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

We've got to boogie, boogie, move on this one


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite Lyrics as written by Peter Buck Bill Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight song meanings
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52 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment

    I love the fact that you can think you know R.E.M. lyrics for 17 years and then suddenly find you were totally wrong.

    Wallamanageon June 09, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    i think it's pretty simple...this girl is giving him the cold soldier and he wants to call her...but whereever he is, the phone is eating his money...so, he's gotta get his friend to call him and put her on the phone...when he says he can always sleep standing up he's saying he can sleep in the phone booth and wait for the call...

    ZinbobDanon April 28, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    It took me so long to figuire out what Michael was trying to say in the chorus!!!

    butterflykiss84on March 10, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    its tonite not tonight

    kdanceon January 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    I see this as a story about a man who has been recently divorced. He is staying in a crappy motel and has called his ex-wife to let her know where he is. He wants to talk to his daughter, but she is asleep (Call me when you try to wake her up). He is trying to keep her on the line because he is lonely and hopes that his daughter will wake up, so he rambles about the phone, what he is eating, the stories he used to read his daughter, etc.

    cowenson February 20, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Publisher, EAT THIS

    "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"

    This here is the place where I will be staying There isn't a number, you can call the pay phone Let it ring a long, long, long, long time If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more, oh If I don't pick up, pick up The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her, oh

    There are scratches all around the coin slot Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up But this machine can only swallow money You can't lay a patch by computer design It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs

    Tell her Tell her she can kiss my ass Then laugh and say that you were only kidding That way she'll know that it's really, really, really, really me

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her, oh

    Baby, instant soup doesn't really grab me Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her, oh

    The cat in the hat came back, wrecked a lot of havoc on the way Always had a smile and a reason to pretend But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream The sidewinder sleeps on his back

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her I can always sleep standing up. Call me when you try to wake her, oh

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her I can always sleep standing up. Call me when you try to wake her, oh

    Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her Call me when you try to wake her up, call me when you try to wake her I can always sleep standing up. Call me when you try to wake her, oh

    We've got to moogie, moogie, move on this one

    nycniteon April 04, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    i always thought i was a response to "the lion sleeps tonite". basiclly saying the lions got it good, but what about others? i dont know, just a thought

    MtterOFctItsAllDrkon September 26, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This track is Brilliant it's words are full of humour and catchy melodies. It really about a homeless person who knows a girl who rings him now and then by the payphone. In verse 2 its like he asks someone else to wring her and tell her "she can kiss me ass", then laugh, he says then "that way she'll know its really really me". It's chorus I can't really answer but the melody and chords are really catchy and memorable. Its THE most uplifting track on the 'automatic for the people' album, I may not get it much but it's a real joy to listen to.

    musicexploreron October 26, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is fairly nonsensical, but you can prertty much tell that this is about relationships and how Stipe feels that hope is eternal, even when the other person is completely ignoring you.

    rockmanon January 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    My interpretation is it's about gambling addiction, with the line "but this machine can only swallow money.You can't lay a patch by computer design. It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs" referring to slot machines. The man is trying to wake the woman up from her addiction which he sees as empty and mindless but she is hooked because of the dream of winning: "The cat in the hat came back, wrecked a lot of havoc on the way, always had a smile and a reason to pretend. But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream".

    Just my thoughts!

    *ste*on April 15, 2008   Link

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