The R.E.M. version of this on "Dead Letter Office" cannot be fully
appreciated without the knowledge that The Boys had consumed more than
a full day's supply of alcohol when the song was recorded. Except for
the guitar solo it's a pretty straightforward 1-4-5 song, but they
have a lot of trouble with it.
Pete Buck says in the liner notes:
I suppose that if we had any shame we would have never allowed
this little gem to see the light of day. This was recorded at the
very end of an alcohol-soaked day, and I can barely remember cutting
it...The second part is King of the Road, kind of. If there was any
justice in the world, Roger Miller would be able to sue us for what
we did to this song
After they finish a version of "Walter's Theme", a
track designed to air as a commercial for Walter's BBQ in Athens
("pull on my boots...head on down to Walter's") you can hear them
just messing around a little, and then Stipe starts mumbling off mike.
Here's a transcript of roughly what can be heard in the background on the track:
Stipe: (away from his mike, mumbling) "...Fifty cents. No cars, no pool no pets..."
Buck plays the opening riff: Da-DUM-Da-DUM-Da-DUM
Stipe: (finally stepping up to the mike) "I ain't got no cigarettes"
At this point, Buck has started into the song in an entirely different key than Mills was messing about in. Always the responsible one, Mike starts calling out chords to try to save the situation.
Mills (after no one responds): "A! It's in a different key!"
Stipe: "..three by twelve cubic room..."
Stipe: "...Trailers for sale or rent"
Mills (on top of Stipe): "F! G!"
They stumble along with this for a while, with Michael generally remembering the lyrics OK, but nothing to be proud of.
After they miraculously make it through a single verse and refrain, and a little guitar solo, Michael says: One more time. At this point, somewhat magically, the band steps up to the key that Mills wanted them to start with in the first place.
Stipe: (entering late) "...-lers for sale or rent..."