I have to admit that while I certainly don’t dislike R.E.M., the band has never been one of my favourites.
However, their 1992 song Man On The Moon is second only to The Who’s Pinball Wizard on my list of all-time favourite songs.
If you’ve been paying attention to previous Choob posts, you’ll also know that I am a fan of 70s/80s sitcom Taxi (having featured Jim’s Driving Test as a Classic Clip and the show’s theme tune in Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day).
As such, I was aware of Andy Kaufman, who played foreign mechanic Latka Gravas on Taxi, from an early age.
However, after hearing so many stories about him over the years, it was only about a decade ago, not that long before the Kaufman biopic Man On The Moon came out, that I really got interested in him and learned the fascinating story of the man behind the character of Latka, his extraordinary life and his death from cancer in 1984 at the tragically young age of 35.
The reason, of course, that I mention all this is that the R.E.M. song Man On The Moon – which also lent its title to the movie, for which the band provided the music – was inspired by Kaufman’s life. Even before I knew that, the song was a favourite but knowing the story of the man who inspired it somehow gave it a whole new level of resonance for me.
Anyway, here is R.E.M. performing the song live on October 11, 2004 at the MCI Centre in Washington D.C., on the Vote For Change tour, with special guest Bruce Springsteen on guitar and dueting with singer Michael Stipe.