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R.E.M. — World Leader Pretend
Album: Green
Avg rating:
7.2

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1510









Released: 1988
Length: 4:11
Plays (last 30 days): 1
I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it's all, it's all for nothing
I know the barricades
And I know the mortar in the wall breaks
I recognise the weapons, I've used them well

This is my mistake
Let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

I've a rich understanding of my finest defences
I proclaim that claims are left unstated
I demand a rematch

I decree a stalemate
I divine my deeper motives
I recognise the weapons
I've practised them well
I fitted them myself

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize
Empathise
This is my mistake, let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

Reach out for me
Hold me tight
Hold that memory
Let my machine talk to me
Let my machine talk to me

This is my world,and I am the World Leader Pretend
This is my life, and this is my time
I have been given the freedom to do as I see fit
It's high time I razed the walls that I've constructed

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize
Empathise
This is my mistake, let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

You fill in the mortar
You fill in the harmony
You fill in the mortar
I raised the wall
And I'm the only one
I will be the one to knock it down
Comments (289)add comment
This is one of my favourite songs ever, thank you!
World leader pretend using the Walls I've constructed. Hmmm. This song is so out of date.
I think these are called album fillers.
tedious in every way. 
Oh Michael, what a  talent you have for making a lyric personal and public and mysterious all at the same time.
At first I thought it was The Smiths 
O love songs which’s bass lines are obvious..Kudos
 kcar wrote:

Exactly. Thank you. So dreary compared to the fresh mysterious band when they first hit it big. 

 
Yep. I played all of Reckoning today and it was a high point of the day. This song, though, is wallpaper.
 
Algis wrote:
Very apropos to our moment in history. Resist Trump!

 




                                  To YOUR moment perhaps.  MAGA !




 

 mdfergy wrote:
This song sucks.. the singer doesn't even seem to be trying.... i could do better...

 
By all means, please do.
This song sucks.. the singer doesn't even seem to be trying.... i could do better...
 kcar wrote:

Exactly. Thank you. So dreary compared to the fresh mysterious band when they first hit it big. 

 
'Dreary'?  Always fascinates me, how perceptions can differ so radically.
Very apropos to our moment in history. Resist Trump!
 mdfergy wrote:
I think this is a low point for REM... I hate the lyrics, and the "singing" is marginal at best... I can't go higher than a 2 ....
 

 
Exactly. Thank you. So dreary compared to the fresh mysterious band when they first hit it big. 
A perfect song for these times.
Really shocking, to read the news these days; like The End of the World As We Know It, and how apropos, to hear this song, today!
I think this is a low point for REM... I hate the lyrics, and the "singing" is marginal at best... I can't go higher than a 2 ....
 
 jsed wrote:
The earlier, less polished, REM is still my preference but IMO this album, and specifically this song, is the high water point for them.  8  
 

Personally I’d go a bit later, I think “Out of Time” was the high water point.


 black321 wrote:
This band needs a new lyricist. 

 
Yeah, that last one didn't work out very well.

Trump.
18 years ago, this song.
How prescient.
 
 coloradojohn wrote:
They really were firing on all cylinders in this period. The bass, the drums, the guitars — almost country at times! and Stipe's ace timing

 
agreed
I guess this is just an individual thing, but why do so many tunes have the sound of castanets added at random intervals. For me this is one one the most irritating sounds in the known universe {#Stupid}
Otherwise I would have quite liked this.
Very weird and odd drumming partially... {#Ask}
They really were firing on all cylinders in this period. The bass, the drums, the guitars — almost country at times! and Stipe's ace timing
 jsed wrote:
The earlier, less polished, REM is still my preference but IMO this album, and specifically this song, is the high water point for them.  8  

 
Perfectly said.
My personal favourite is still the album 'Lifes rich pageant' when they were young and wild (like me, hehe).
The earlier, less polished, REM is still my preference but IMO this album, and specifically this song, is the high water point for them.  8  
Great lead-in from "The Man Who Sold The World"!
Possibly my favourite REM song. 
We be dancing like bowlegged gypsy muleskinners...  wheeee!  Love it!

It's amazing what devices we can sympathize.....
 rdo wrote:

NYC and Paris are very likely the most conceited cities.  But conceit is something else.  In fact those who recognize, rightly, the folly of conceit are just proving my point all the more --- it IS smart to recognize conceit for what it is, but that is not humility by any means.
 
I beg to differ: NYC is the most conceited city and justifiably so ;) 
 bitbanger wrote:
I believe rdo is mistaken. New York City is the center of the universe. Everyone in my humble burg thinks so... {#Yes}

 
NeuroGeek wrote:

Perhaps your sample is a bit biased by your current location?

 

 
rdo wrote:
Deep down, we all think we are world leaders.  Everyone I've ever known believes they are the smartest and cleverest and whateverest in the world.  It's pretty normal.  I have never known anyone who thinks they are dumb.  True humility is the rarest thing on earth.

 

 
NYC and Paris are very likely the most conceited cities.  But conceit is something else.  In fact those who recognize, rightly, the folly of conceit are just proving my point all the more --- it IS smart to recognize conceit for what it is, but that is not humility by any means.
I believe rdo is mistaken. New York City is the center of the universe. Everyone in my humble burg thinks so... {#Yes}

 
NeuroGeek wrote:

Perhaps your sample is a bit biased by your current location?

 

 
rdo wrote:
Deep down, we all think we are world leaders.  Everyone I've ever known believes they are the smartest and cleverest and whateverest in the world.  It's pretty normal.  I have never known anyone who thinks they are dumb.  True humility is the rarest thing on earth.

 
This is the only place I hear this great song anymore...Thanks.
 rdo wrote:
Deep down, we all think we are world leaders.  Everyone I've ever known believes they are the smartest and cleverest and whateverest in the world.  It's pretty normal.  I have never known anyone who thinks they are dumb.  True humility is the rarest thing on earth.

 
Perhaps your sample is a bit biased by your current location?
Deep down, we all think we are world leaders.  Everyone I've ever known believes they are the smartest and cleverest and whateverest in the world.  It's pretty normal.  I have never known anyone who thinks they are dumb.  True humility is the rarest thing on earth.
This band needs a new lyricist. 
I've often wondered if this song is about playing Risk against yourself. 

So good.  
Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-
We be too! Third 10 in a row, nice one Bill 
Lazarus wrote:

sophisticated syncopated beat...  great lyrics that once again remind me of John Lennon's Walls and Bridges...  we be dancing...

 


 rdo wrote:


Hey Kaybee, thanks for digging up that old post I'd pretty much disowned already (see the post right below yours).  {#Lol}   I know what you mean, though.  I cannot understand what goes through the minds of commercial radio station owners, especially the rock stations.  I don't think I have ever met a single person who likes the formats or the options on commercial radio. Why do they do it like that?  Hearing the same songs over and over again.  The same old classic hits played to death.  All the idiotic DJ talk and endless commercial breaks. I like to listen to the commercial rock stations still during my car commute.  I like to know what other people are listening to. It really is not as bad as people here make is seem though.  Here are just a few new bands and RP regulars that get a lot of air time on commercial radio in the last few years:  Black Keys, Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons, Lumineers, Kings of Leon, Muse, Gotye,  Florence and the Machine...I'll think of more later. 

 

never forget who the RP creator is. he saved santa cruz from deadness for years at KFAT....{#Dance}...thank you WILD BILL

sophisticated syncopated beat...  great lyrics that once again remind me of John Lennon's Walls and Bridges...  we be dancing...
 kaybee wrote:

I don't think it was the music that sucked in the '80s.  It was a lot of the radio stations that had been independent and into playing all kinds of music were bought out by commercial radio.  As a result, you just didn't hear a lot of the good stuff that was coming out then.  I was lucky enough to live in Toronto in that decade and to listen to an excellent station that played a lot of the alternative music from all over - Britain and Europe as well as North America and other places.  Sadly CFNY went commercial in the early 90's. 

Listening now to RP, I'm amazed not only at what is out there now, but a lot of the great music I've never heard on radio before that came out in the 90's and early 2000's.

Rock is not dead!

 

Hey Kaybee, thanks for digging up that old post I'd pretty much disowned already (see the post right below yours).  {#Lol}   I know what you mean, though.  I cannot understand what goes through the minds of commercial radio station owners, especially the rock stations.  I don't think I have ever met a single person who likes the formats or the options on commercial radio. Why do they do it like that?  Hearing the same songs over and over again.  The same old classic hits played to death.  All the idiotic DJ talk and endless commercial breaks. I like to listen to the commercial rock stations still during my car commute.  I like to know what other people are listening to. It really is not as bad as people here make is seem though.  Here are just a few new bands and RP regulars that get a lot of air time on commercial radio in the last few years:  Black Keys, Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons, Lumineers, Kings of Leon, Muse, Gotye,  Florence and the Machine...I'll think of more later. 

Everybody in my church be dancing...  love it...  love this whole album...
 
So often the same melancholy drone with the same generic melody from REM.
I really liked their earlier more lively songs. 
 Elroweho wrote:
Once again I say - you can't go wrong playing just about anything by REM!

{#Notworthy} 

 
..you can say that again!..oh wait..
Once again I say - you can't go wrong playing just about anything by REM!

{#Notworthy} 
 fuzzy wrote:
I love the guitar on this tune. It would make a nice instrumental.
 

Hey fuzzy, Bill just gave your comment a shout out. Thing is, I don't read your comment as a criticism of the lyrics - I interpet your comment as meaning that this song, with the excellent guitar work, would ALSO make a nice instrumental. 


 rdo wrote:


Compared to the 60's and 70's, the 80's did suck.  Then after that, it was really all but over.  I mean, I was born in 1970 and I love the rock since 1980, but let's face it, Rock is dead.  Pretty soon NPR will be playing Rock and asking for donations to keep it alive.
 
I don't think it was the music that sucked in the '80s.  It was a lot of the radio stations that had been independent and into playing all kinds of music were bought out by commercial radio.  As a result, you just didn't hear a lot of the good stuff that was coming out then.  I was lucky enough to live in Toronto in that decade and to listen to an excellent station that played a lot of the alternative music from all over - Britain and Europe as well as North America and other places.  Sadly CFNY went commercial in the early 90's. 

Listening now to RP, I'm amazed not only at what is out there now, but a lot of the great music I've never heard on radio before that came out in the 90's and early 2000's.

Rock is not dead!
 Proclivities wrote:

Well, it's only as dead as you want it to be.  I guess it also depends on what one's definition of "Rock" is.  By the way, the music of 80's did not suck, compared to any era, whether or not you liked it.  
 

I did not make my point very well.  I agree. Takes too long to really say anything intelligent here.  What I meant basically was that there were so many great bands prior to 1980, and that Rock bands topped the charts in the 70s and 60s and filled the airwaves, it's hard to say Rock is alive in comparison still post 1980.  It's clumsy, I know.  REM is like the whole reason I listen to music.  They got me into good music in the first place.  I was pretty clueless before that. I was a poor kid, serioulsy,  I had hardly any money for CDs and I did not really talk to people about music until college.
A timeless ode to hubris set to pedal steel. Love the segue from Stipe's anti-war song to "The Bleeding Heart Show." I will never forget the irony of R.E.M.'s Green tour was broadcast on Westwood One Radio Network in 1989, sponsored by the U.S. Army. To hear Orange Crush and this song and then a commercial about "being all that you can be" was jarringly ironic.
They played this song today on WXRT in Chi. after their movie review of "The Dictator".  I had a chuckle...



 pushkinjim wrote:
Go ahead -just hate REM! Why not? I do. They suck!
 
I'm surprised that a Christian pastor (Reverend Jim - Vineyard Church of Sweden)  would espouse hate of something as benign as music. Or would espouse any kind of hate.  I didn't realize that hate was a Christian value - which explains why I'm so bewildered by the GOP primaries. 

 
I am world leader... pretentious
 Mugro wrote:
When they were good, they were very, very good.....
 
There was a little band
Revered across the land
Some songs were dark and torrid
When they were good, they were very very good
....

 Mugro wrote:
When they were good, they were very, very good.....
 

Yo' listenin' ?????
When they were good, they were very, very good.....
Meh.
Easily my favorite song on Green.



Everybody in my hotel room be dancing...  love it...

 
One of my favorite songs from my favorite band.
The paranoid meditation of a would-be dictator. One of R.E.M. best songs ever.


This song is soooo good for the external auditory meatus...  love it...
 
 alaken wrote:
One of the great R.E.M. songs. IMO Green is an uneven album, not too user-friendly, but with hidden gems like this.
 
I completely agree with you. I love the lyrics {#Arrowd}, thanks Cynaera.


Lyrics - which only makes me want to write a screenplay for this more than ever...

I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it's all, it's all for nothing
I know the barricades, and
I know the mortar in the wall breaks
I recognize the weapons, I used them well

This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the wall and I will be the one to knock it down

I've a rich understanding of my finest defenses
I proclaim that claims are left unstated,
I demand a rematch
I decree a stalemate
I divine my deeper motives
I recognize the weapons
I've practiced them well. I fitted them myself

(chorus)
It's amazing what devices you can sympathize, empathize
This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the wall and I will be the one to knock it down

Reach out for me and hold me tight. Hold that memory
Let my machine talk to me, let my machine talk to me

This is my world
And I am world leader pretend
This is my life
And this is my time
I have been given the freedom
To do as I see fit
It's high time I've razed the walls
That I've constructed

(repeat chorus)

You fill in the mortar. You fill in the harmony
You fill in the mortar. I raised the wall
And I'm the only one
I will be the one to knock it down


 alaken wrote:
One of the great R.E.M. songs. IMO Green is an uneven album, not too user-friendly, but with hidden gems like this.
 
That's funny - I've always thought it was one of their most commercial albums. There's three big "hits" on it...
New album is good.
 WayUpNorth wrote:

like your style {#Cowboy}
 


Thank you...  we be dancing...


 Randomax wrote:
absolutely the worst REM song IMHO....I just can't take the off key monotone!!!!!!!!!  {#Beat}
 
You must be listening to something else - this is a fantastic song.

The only rock bands that combined huge popular and critical success in the 80's - U2 and REM - back to back
 Randomax wrote:
absolutely the worst REM song IMHO....I just can't take the off key monotone!!!!!!!!!  {#Beat}
 
Well, I don't know if it's the worst, but it's pretty dull.  My impression was that this really sounds like an REM song but doesn't have anything interesting happening in it.  Kind of a cliche.  Am I making any sense?

 romeotuma wrote:
Just relax and let it flow all over you...  this song will make you move...
 
like your style {#Cowboy}

absolutely the worst REM song IMHO....I just can't take the off key monotone!!!!!!!!!  {#Beat}
 Cynaera wrote:

It took a moment, but oh. Wow. Okay - there it is... Eyes closed, mind opened... This could be a script. For now, it's a really great song by R.E.M.  I'ma have to get this song, because I just got a great idea for a story - and it's been awhile since I rattled Peter Lenkov's cage... *evil giggle*
 


Yes, this really is a fantastic song...  it always makes me dance...

 
 romeotuma wrote:

Just relax and let it flow all over you...  this song will make you move...

 
 
It took a moment, but oh. Wow. Okay - there it is... Eyes closed, mind opened... This could be a script. For now, it's a really great song by R.E.M.  I'ma have to get this song, because I just got a great idea for a story - and it's been awhile since I rattled Peter Lenkov's cage... *evil giggle*

 crockydile wrote:
Don't like this spoken word thing...yawn. {#Yawn}
 
You must be listening to the William Shatner cover, because the R.E.M. version is definitely sung.
please....make...it....stop....{#Wall}
 Businessgypsy wrote:
OK, I'll try. Just a minute...working on it....

Oh.

No, that was not pretty. Not pretty at all
 


Just relax and let it flow all over you...  this song will make you move...

 
Don't like this spoken word thing...yawn. {#Yawn}

I like to think of myself who's pretty hip to REM - but I don't know this song - or even this album - how is that possible - it's not like I'm young and new to the REM scene.   Nice song - thanks Bill! {#Clap}


One of the great R.E.M. songs. IMO Green is an uneven album, not too user-friendly, but with hidden gems like this.
 Businessgypsy wrote:
OK, I'll try. Just a minute...working on it....

Oh.

No, that was not pretty. Not pretty at all


 
{#Lol}

Damn this song is so good.

My favorite Michael Stipe sung song.  Period.
romeotuma wrote:
Just let your hips move to the drum beat... this song is great...
OK, I'll try. Just a minute...working on it....

Oh.

No, that was not pretty. Not pretty at all




Very cool song...  love it...


 ugly wrote:
Had to go read the lyrics before I posted. I have this song on my iPod constantly, but you know, when you listen to an iPod and not a record player with that big vinyl cover to love (and read the lyrics from) I don't know the lyrics to a ton of songs I love. When I was a teen all my music was from albums and the cooler the cover, the better it was to lay in my bedroom with the headphones on and read the lyrics. After hotboxing my VW.
 

Well, if you can find a reliable source for lyrics you can always read them off the iPod while you're playing the songs. (Not that it's the same experience, I'm just saying).

Then again, this was the first R.E.M. lyric printed on an album cover (and the only one in "Green"). Of course these days they print them all... but no one wants to read them!
Had to go read the lyrics before I posted. I have this song on my iPod constantly, but you know, when you listen to an iPod and not a record player with that big vinyl cover to love (and read the lyrics from) I don't know the lyrics to a ton of songs I love. When I was a teen all my music was from albums and the cooler the cover, the better it was to lay in my bedroom with the headphones on and read the lyrics. After hotboxing my VW.
one of the best album covers IMHO ~ lots of cryptic code stuff


Yes, this is a profound song... we be dancing...


College Rock....


fantastic...


 rdo wrote:


Compared to the 60's and 70's, the 80's did suck.  Then after that, it was really all but over.  I mean, I was born in 1970 and I love the rock since 1980, but let's face it, Rock is dead.  Pretty soon NPR will be playing Rock and asking for donations to keep it alive.
 
Well, it's only as dead as you want it to be.  I guess it also depends on what one's definition of "Rock" is.  By the way, the music of 80's did not suck, compared to any era, whether or not you liked it.  
REM put out a lot of good stuff around this era, this song, as stated below.....not so much.{#No}
not....so much!!
 paulmack wrote:

This never struck me as a happy, dancy, sort of sung, myself. But I guess I could dance to it.

 

Just let your hips move to the drum beat...  this song is great...


Perhaps the greatest REM track of all time.  Wait no that's Country Feedback but this one still gave me goosebumps.  I have been given the freedom to do as i see fit and its high time i raised the walls that i've constructed - rock on Mr Stipe!  Oh also rock on Bill - i swear your playing from my own music collection this morning.
The worst song on an otherwise superb album. Rating: 5
I was a big R.E.M. fan when this CD came out in the late 80's. I recall very distinctly thinking this song was a joke and wondering why they went so far as to print its lyrics (and only its lyrics) in the booklet.

Fortunately there were several great songs on the disk, but this CD marks the beginning of their decline for me.

 bokey wrote:

More crap.{#Yes}
 The suckage level of Stipe would make  a space shuttle implode.

 

Always striking to me how often those of us with NO MUSICAL TALENT (I include myself here) are so ready to criticize (I don't include myself here, though) those who DObokey you have just exposed yourself, I suspect, as one of these who qualify on both counts.
 romeotuma wrote:


This is a very groovy tune...  we be dancing...
 
This never struck me as a happy, dancy, sort of sung, myself. But I guess I could dance to it.



This is a very groovy tune...  we be dancing...


 renegade_X wrote:
Such a silly song.
 
More crap. {#Yes}
 The suckage level of Stipe would make  a space shuttle implode.



love it...


 Xeric wrote:

This is a crucial point, often missed in the "80s-music-sucks" tirades.  What you heard on commercial radio sucked, indeed.  If you were around a good college FM station, on the other hand. . . .

 

Compared to the 60's and 70's, the 80's did suck.  Then after that, it was really all but over.  I mean, I was born in 1970 and I love the rock since 1980, but let's face it, Rock is dead.  Pretty soon NPR will be playing Rock and asking for donations to keep it alive.


We be dancing...  this is from an excellent album...



love it!!


 lemmoth wrote:
U2 followed by REM

The two "biggest" 80s rock bands, and two rare cases of wildly popular artists who made great rock in that decade.

So many previously great and succesful acts (including favorites of mine like Bowie, the Stones, and Neil Young) put out a lot of dissapointing music in the 80's.  Most of the critically acclaimed rock of the 80's was not heard on commercial radio - as it was in the 70's and the 90's.

 
This is a crucial point, often missed in the "80s-music-sucks" tirades.  What you heard on commercial radio sucked, indeed.  If you were around a good college FM station, on the other hand. . . .

 sharkey wrote:

Is this about Sting or Bush?



   LOL ...or Bono- and I love Bono ....and Sting.. but not the Texan



This song is soooo good for the ears...


Wow, takes me back to a troubled time in my life. I really related to this song then.  Glad I don't now, but I still like it. 
U2 followed by REM

The two "biggest" 80s rock bands, and two rare cases of wildly popular artists who made great rock in that decade.

So many previously great and succesful acts (including favorites of mine like Bowie, the Stones, and Neil Young) put out a lot of dissapointing music in the 80's.  Most of the critically acclaimed rock of the 80's was not heard on commercial radio - as it was in the 70's and the 90's.



excellent...




still love it...


 romeotuma wrote:


This is a really good song from a great album...
 
Yes.



This is a really good song from a great album...


 veegez wrote:

Why, is there safety in numbers or something?

 
Um, maybe ... sometimes you get into a situation where you're going "this tune is overrated big time" —- like this one.

If you say that about Radiohead, the RP sacred cow, for instance, opprobrium rains down on you.

So yeah, I'll go with safety in numbers.

 keller1 wrote:


Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way.
 
Why, is there safety in numbers or something?

 renegade_X wrote:
Such a silly song.
 

Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way.
I love me some classic R.E.M. {#Hug}


version for the Hispanic community:

la banda REM es, sin duda, de las importantes bandas que dos últimas décadas han aparecido, no se encuentra la intención de nadie en el mundo musical puede, por tanto, poner en duda; creativa, el talento, muy buenos ejecutantes, con el cantante-líder que hace la envidia de muchos bandas, pero hasta buenos músicos pueden ser Desperados a veces para ser desconcertante cuando acelerar demasiado en "Accelerate"; no es el caso de la presente canción


** 7 / 8 **