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 97 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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  • muerto14

    Great!

    16 Jul 4:10pm Reply
  • Storchel

    Love it!

    28 Apr 4:14pm Reply
  • Hiccius

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

    27 Mar 5:27pm Reply
  • joshsaussey

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

    11 Mar 10:47pm Reply
  • D00dDk

    there will never be music like this again :(

    9 Mar 12:11am Reply
  • dougm

    proghead that totally loves this pop masterpiece.

    27 Feb 11:42am Reply
  • kalushi4love

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    14 Feb 8:46am Reply
  • omaCore

    The best.

    6 Feb 2:55pm Reply
  • lv426tec

    Lets just...Play!

    5 Feb 3:28am 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
  • lord_of_beer

    This song takes me back to bitter sweet memories of hs.

    3 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Noah121W

    I didn't like the song when I first heard it, but probably because I associated it with missing my parents when they were on RAGBRAI in 1997. I can now hear the song for the song itself, rather than that negative memory.

    24 Jul 2013 Reply
  • davidbowiegirl

    Great song <3

    30 Jun 2013 Reply
  • AwesomeMatthew

    This is one of my absolute favorite songs, from one of my favorite bands. Although I think all of the songs on R.E.M.'s "Automatic for the People" album were great. I especially liked "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite," "Drive" and "Sweetness Follows." A Grade-A album from start to finish if you ask me.

    4 Jun 2013 Reply
  • qwertyfla

    lest we forget the song and dance man.

    22 May 2013 Reply
  • juninhohyuuga

    yeah,yeah,yeah,yeah

    30 Apr 2013 Reply
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