"So. Central Rain" by R.E.M. (Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe)
Reckoning, 1984. (1 C!)
C             Em    Gm                F
Did you never call? I waited for your call
C               Cm       Bb               C
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The trees will bend, the cities wash away
The city on the river there is a girl without a dream

C  Dm       C Dm       C Dm       C Dm
   I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry

Eastern to Mountain, third party call, the lines are down
The wise man built his words upon the rocks
But I'm not bound to follow suit
The trees will bend, the conversation's dimmed
Go build yourself another home, this choice isn't mine

I'm sorry, I'm sorry

BRIDGE: Am, Am7, Am, Am7, etc.

Did you never call? I waited for your call
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away
The ocean sang, the conversation's dimmed
Go build yourself another dream, this choice isn't mine

I'm sorry, I'm sorry

Am, Am7, Am, Am7, etc.

The song was inspired by the floods in 1983, which, from what I've heard, were pretty severe in Georgia. The lyrics build upon the album's theme of water, with the floods as the agent of destruction.

The song also builds on the album's occasional references to religious themes--from the snakes on the cover, to the implicit concept of water and baptism, to this song's reference to the parable of the two builders in Matthew 7:

24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

The wise man built his words upon the rocks
But I'm not bound to follow suit

The singer identifies himself with the foolish man who lets his house fall because of the rain and floods. He ignored--and still ignores--what is said to him, he doesn't say the right things. He sits by the phone, waiting for this someone to call, but never bothers to call that person himself. He's been paralized, he's been flooded by doubt. He's done something wrong, he's caused this girl to lose her dreams.

He built the relationship on sand, allowing communication to dry up, waiting for her to say something, instead of saying it himself. Why? He's filled his life with excuses, with mental defenses, reasons not to do things. And what happens when this gets to be too much? A flood.

But he's sorry, and that's got to count for something, right?

I once heard a version of this song that ended with Michael Stipe singing these lines from Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain":

I come to you, defenses down
With the trust of a child

Which seems to be a rather perfect end for the song. Originally, the ending leaves the relationship in jeopardy. The girl's dreams are destroyed by this flood of excuses, by this flood of defenses on his part. He built his words on sand, and knows he can't fix that. We're left with him saying he's sorry, but that is all.

So this ending--"I come to you, defenses down" was not originally intended, but added in the live shows. Why? No, not just because R.E.M. likes Peter Gabriel's solo stuff. You see, the singer is sorry--he said that. Now, though, instead of leaving the song at a person simply saying he's sorry, the song says he is coming defenses down. The protagonist should have done this a long time ago. He should have come without pretense, without reservation, without all the defenses, mental blocks, excuses that are made every day, thinking this will get him through life. He is willing to come with the faith of a child. Before, on the record, we didn't have this. We only had the destruction of the flood. Now, we see the rainbow afterwards, and the receding waters.


Thanks to Pseudo_Intellectual and isogolem for catching the spelling mistakes, and editorial help from panamaus.

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