He moves efficiently
Beyond security
Great opportunity awaits
Airport fluorescent
Creature of habit
Labored breathing and shallow skin
Recycled air
Moving sidewalks
Great opportunity blinks
Great opportunity blinks
Great opportunity blinks
Great opportunity blinks
The people mover
The people mover

Lyrics submitted by xpankfrisst, edited by seasideisme

"Airportman" as written by Michael Mills Peter Buck

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

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Airportman song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThe primary inspiration for Radiohead's Kid A, and it's a doozy...R.E.M. really nails the mood "melancholy" with this song. Stipe is watching a man who's life moves through other people, but who otherwise is completely invisible...a very sad place to be indeed.
    bernlin2000on January 26, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commentclosest REM has ever come to a bonafide Radiohead song. definitely their most paranoia-inducing output ever.

    everything's antiseptic and plastic and dull and you can just feel the tension burning. "great opportunity blinks"- neon sign/screens in airport?

    would've loved to see this when they performed it live...
    ripelivejamon March 07, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYeah, everyone pretty much nailed the meaning about a business man.

    But what I find so remarkable about this song is the music. It's so different and moody, and totally takes your mind away to a different place. I think that the music is supposed to reflect the mood of the narrator: trapped in a dazed mood where he's so bored that he's just kind of daydreaming. I also think that it was a really risky but great way to start the album, since it's so different from the R.E.M. that people are used to.

    For the disillusioned professionals theme, now that I think about it, there are a lot of songs and references to that on Up. I think that Stipe likes to write narratives about people in certain situation for the purpose of showing that everyone feels the same way, no matter who. Like in "Sad Professor", it's easy for anyone who's ever been hopeless to relate to the character, even if they arn't professors. I really like that angle, instead of just writing a bunch of biographical songs about himself, but creating fictional characters to represent certain emotions.
    Jakeberton July 15, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe music itself is gorgeous, almost eno-esque in it's use of atmosphere. Very calming, seems oddly appropriate for airport music, ironic isn't it? I also like it because it's purty.
    pumkinhedon August 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentweird
    rieveon May 01, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song was written in 1999 or something so it was NOT inspired by 9/11, but the first time I heard it afterwards it scared the sh*t out of me; struck me as almost prescient.

    I can't listen to it anymore without thinking about the guys who hijacked the planes to fly into the WTC, "moving efficiently beyond security," and their sense of "great opportunity" within that suicide mission (i.e., blindly serving their leader, getting into heaven with all the attendant virgins, etc.). "The people mover discounted"--I could read that line as the appropriation of the airplane as weapon, discounting all the people on it. Even the foggy ambience of it, the lack of clarity of the lyrics, strike me as suitably horrific.

    (yogaboat, I like your interpretation, and given some of the other stuff on that album about disillusioned professionals--e.g., "Sad Professor," "Daysleeper"--I think it could be right on target. Disillusionment in general seems to be a big theme of the album, now that I think about it.)
    dlugoczajon November 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "people movers" part is probably talking about those flat, escalator-like conveyor belts in airports nicknamed PeopleMovers.

    But yeah, definately about a businessman.
    Brat Mojon April 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Creatures of habit"

    "Recycled air"

    "Moving sidewalks"

    "Great opportunity blinks
    Great oppurtunity blinks discounted"

    definitly about buisness corporate mentality and
    america - like "money is power" dullness that is spreading all around the world ...

    no matter where America, Canada, France, Serbia, Poland, China, Saturn, Jupiter ...
    Mayoron November 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI'm a teacher candidate bound to start teaching in 2012 at an inner city school, and this song always makes me think of how few inner-city students actually graduate...let alone go to college. It has a strong message about how the only ones who succeed are the ones who break the stereotypes and molds, and become great people in their own right...especially now, when you need a degree in business to straighten up toilet paper at Target...

    Those who break the mold end up successful, and those who work hard end up happy. There are great opportunities out there, BUT only if you grab the bull by the horns and pull!
    JMuth561on November 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAirports are strange places, everything is on the move, nothing stands still. The businessmen are maybe the only people that really fits in there. They move efficiently beyond security and are driven by great opportunities that lie ahead. They are a creatures of habit, they´ve done this thing thousand times, it has become a everyday thing.

    HankSayson December 19, 2010   Link

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