Man on the Moon (5:14)

Cover of In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003

From In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 and 101 other releases

Man on the Moon is a song by the band R.E.M. from their 1992 album Automatic for the People. The song makes numerous references to the performer Andy Kaufman, including his Elvis impersonation and work with wrestlers Fred Blassie and Jerry Lawler. The song was released as a single in 1993.

The title, video, and lyrics are a reference to the conspiracy theory that the American moon landing was faked. There have also been rumors that Andy Kaufman faked his death. The lyrics make no direct reference to this or a connection between the two, but they do imply that Kaufman should be seen as having “nothing up his sleeve.”

The song gave its name to a 1999 film Man on the Moon, and was used in the film’s soundtrack.

The song’s video, directed by Peter Care, was shot over three days in the desert, at Lancaster in the Antelope Valley area of California, in October 1992. Care kept a journal of the unusually long planning, filming, and editing process, which was published by Raygun magazine and reprinted in the R.E.M. fan club newsletter. It gave a clear idea of the amount of work, money, and attention-to-detail involved.

In the video, Stipe, attired in a cowboy hat, walks along a desert road. He leaps onto a passing truck, driven by Bill Berry, and hitches a ride to a truck stop where Peter Buck is tending bar and Mike Mills is shooting pool. Berry trades his truck seat for a bar stool, and along with a few of the other customers, sings along during the choruses. After finishing his order of fries, Stipe leaves and walks off into the dusk. In the background on a small television set in the truck stop, various footage of Andy Kaufman can be seen showing.

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  • Tymbolic

    This song has been stuck in my head the last couple days.

    18 Mar 6:22am Reply
  • djsweetlips1971

    I remember teasing my sister about liking this band and then waking up and seeing them with her on the Document tour. I was such a punk.

    27 Feb 1:19am Reply
  • Gillywibble

    Egypt was troubled by the whore boy ass, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

    7 Feb 11:12am Reply
  • RIPELIVEJAM

    what a godly three track run to the end.

    2 Dec 2014 Reply
  • marjo47

    Fab. song.

    17 Oct 2014 Reply
  • rikrijean

    SUPER~~~THANKS PETE.....

    11 Aug 2014 Reply
  • muerto14

    Great!

    16 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Storchel

    Love it!

    28 Apr 2014 Reply
  • Hiccius

    I love the Elvis impression from Michael Stipe in this song.

    27 Mar 2014 Reply
  • joshsaussey

    Such an awesome song. Classic 90's track. The chorus is beautiful.

    11 Mar 2014 Reply
  • D00dDk

    there will never be music like this again :(

    9 Mar 2014 Reply
  • dougm

    proghead that totally loves this pop masterpiece.

    27 Feb 2014 Reply
  • kalushi4love

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    14 Feb 2014 Reply
  • omaCore

    The best.

    6 Feb 2014 Reply
  • lv426tec

    Lets just...Play!

    5 Feb 2014 Reply
  • BiIIyShears

    I will listen to this song the day Andy returns.

    20 Dec 2013 Reply
  • tomrud73

    great tune.

    3 Dec 2013 Reply
  • benmalmesbury

    REUNION!

    27 Sep 2013 Reply
  • xelene_x

    Man this song never gets old. Love the layering of the backing vocals and bass.

    26 Sep 2013 Reply
  • Nakkinak

    ok the moon landing was faked and we get andy kaufman back ok

    4 Aug 2013 Reply
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