a smallish creature, zoe rarely concerned herself with things she could not see. zoe, being a mere three inches tall, could scarcely see above a blade of grass and - while she didn't mind - it did leave her rather disconnected from the vast majority of the universe.

that being said, it should also be noted that most everyone is disconnected from three inch tall girls named zoe. everyone except for small children who have been known to spot her every so often. being little children, they hardly know what to do with her and so, zoe has spent her whole life alone.

zoe is not like other little girls. she does not play dress-up and bring her dolls to tea. zoe has the wildest hair of any person i've ever known. her eyes are almost always wide with excitement, and when she is sleeping you can tell she is dreaming of beasts and monsters. she is not afraid.

i met zoe one evening in late spring as i sat beneath a smallish tree, contemplating whether or not to cut the grass. i am in charge of lawn maintenance in the centerfield park and recreational area in the village of citadel. citadel is a very quiet, tiny place. very few live here. they are mostly large people with very small thoughts. i have always been alone.

she was sitting underneath the same smallish tree when i noticed her. first glance - i'd thought perhaps i had found the most beautiful bug that ever was. i flattened my stomach to the ground and slowly brought my eyes wide with excitement as close to the would-be bug as possible. zoe stared straight back into my eyes, wild hair strewn about her face. she was not at all afraid. i fell in love.
"You Are the Everything" R.E.M. (Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe)
Green, 1988

(begins with crickets chirping)

Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing (say, say, the light)
I'm very scared for this world
I'm very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here's a scene--
You're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
And they're there for you
For you alone you are the everything

I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I've seen the films and the eyes
But I'm in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful
And she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty
Of the light of music
The voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring--and you're drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me
You are here with me
You have been here and you are everything

(repeat 1st verse)

What R.E.M. does best is convey an emotion through images, and this song is one of the best examples of that which I can think of.

Sonicly, it begins with the sounds of crickets chirping, which brings to mind summer, night, outside, humid air. It sets the stage for a confession, from one lover to another on a warm summer night, as they lie beneath the stars.

"Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing / I'm very scared for this world / I'm very scared for me"--there are times when we are paralyzed. When all that we enjoy, all that we take pleasure in, are overwhelmed by what we see in this world.

"Eviscerate your memory"--to empty your mind of its memories, to allow them to spill out. And this is how we sometimes cope. We retreat into memories, into a more comforting past.

And the scene--the memory--we're given is one of sitting in the backseat of a car. It's funny--I have this very clear memory of sitting in the back of my parents' station wagon as a young child. It's night, and we're down the shore, coming home from the boardwalk. All I can really remember is the gentle rocking of the car, the sound of my parents talking to each other, and the radio, playing some oldies station. But it's a comforting memory, of when I was safe, of when my father was alive, of when I didn't worry about the rest of the world, because I didn't know it existed.

The scene we're presented also is perhaps and oblique reference to the Big Star1 song "Back of a Car":

Sitting in the back of a car
music so loud, can't tell a thing
thinking bout what to say
and I can't find the lines.

Yet this song reverses the sentiment of the Big Star song, which presented a person unsure if they were in love: "like to fall and lie with you/I love you too." Instead, here the person is quite obviously in love/infatuated with the object of the song.

And so, like the memories of sitting in the back of a car, and of being in a warm kitchen with a mother-figure, and a flood of other images of comfort, contrasting with the obvious fear and anxiety experienced by the protagonist, there is a current person, a figure existing in the protagonist's "now" which allows them to get beyond the fears of the world.

"Eviscerate your memory": and this person is everything, this person replaces all those memories, which are no longer needed to get through the day. This person, this everything, has been by the protagonist's side, this person is here, real, not a memory, but current. This person stays despite all the problems, despite fear, despite the protagonist's desire to revert only into memories. This person is Everything.

And this w/u is for Tim. I love you, honey.


1. Big Star was one of R.E.M.'s major influences.

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