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R.E.M. — (don't go back to) Rockville
Album: Reckoning
Avg rating:
7.6

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1681









Released: 1984
Length: 4:27
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Looking at your watch a third time
Waiting in the station for a bus
Going to a place that's far, so far away
And if that's not enough
Going where nobody says hello
They don't talk to anybody they don't know
You'll wind up in some factory
That's full time filth and nowhere left to go
Walk home to an empty house, sit around all by yourself
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long

Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year

At night I drink myself to sleep and pretend
I don't care if you're not here with me
'Cause it's so much easier to handle
All my problems if I'm too far out to sea
But something better happen soon
Or it's gonna be too late to bring you back

It's not as though I really need you
If you were here I'd only bleed you
But everybody else in town only wants to bring you down
And that's not how it ought to be
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long
Comments (269)add comment
Strange, I dreamed about this song last night... Thanks!
I love REM but for some reason can't stand this song.
Awful, like 99% of the rest of their stuff.
 Grayson wrote:
Someone got into my RP account and changed my 10 to a 1 on this. I will find out who did that. Maybe not this day, this week, even this decade. But trust me, I will. 
 
Dwight, is that you?
Like a cross between the "Cheers" and "Friends" theme songs {#Drunk}
Awww man. Nothing brings on the post-holidays ennui-empty-house blues better'n this song.  
 treatment_bound wrote:
Everyone in my confessional booth wants to know why you don't play the newer live version with Mike Mills on lead vocals.
 
LOL
Someone got into my RP account and changed my 10 to a 1 on this. I will find out who did that. Maybe not this day, this week, even this decade. But trust me, I will. 
To me  7- Quite Likeable     (only)     
 coloradojohn wrote:
I've always loved how I don't love Country but I sure do love the Country that the strings and some of their stylings bring to old R.E.M...

 
I kind of feel bad that I don't love much country music, but I'm really glad when some of it sounds great: Lucinda Williams, The Outlaws, Patti Griffin, probably some others I'm not remembering, and when great rock bands like the Stones or REM get into it.  I think it's that a lot of the country music out there sounds superficial rather than sincere.  Though I'm sure there's a big contingent out there who'd say it's the country that sounds sincere and the other stuff that's superficial.  I come from the cities and the burbs, so I may be prejudiced.  On the other hand, Mississippi blues always sounded sincere from the get-go, even the country, country kind.
 mardison wrote:


From R.E.M.'s "perfect period." 



 
Agreed.  Loved them "back then".


From R.E.M.'s "perfect period." 


I've always loved how I don't love Country but I sure do love the Country that the strings and some of their stylings bring to old R.E.M...
 ojibwe wrote:
In Rockville, they sing, "Don't go back to Gaithers-burrrrrrrgggg"

 
Google the video for "Putting the Rock back in Rockville"

Highly recommended for anyone who knows 355 and Montgomery Donuts!


 molson wrote:
This record walks on water...just saying....{#Bounce}

 
i'm with you.
In Rockville, they sing, "Don't go back to Gaithers-burrrrrrrgggg"
 sirdroseph wrote:


I actually think they were referring to Rockville GA.
 
It's Rockville, MD.
Sooo good!!
 molson wrote:
This record walks on water...just saying....{#Bounce}

 
hear yah!
Alas, will always be Rottnest, a small island off from Perth, Fremantle, west coast of Australia
great song.  try not to go backwards in life.  but if you do, make sure they have an internet connection so you can listen to RP!
 Queue wrote:
I go back to Rockville about 5 times a week (it's where my office is).    {#Cheesygrin}

 
CLASSIC post dude
https://hilobrow.com/2011/09/23/rockville-girl-speaks/
I go back to Rockville about 5 times a week (it's where my office is).    {#Cheesygrin}
{#Cowboy}  And I always assumed they were singing about Rockville, Maryland.  Go figure. 
One of my faves!  Thanks for adding this to my day, RP!
 Hodgie wrote:
Insert the name of your hometown to replace Rockville...then sing along. It works well.


(don't go back to) Little Falls works, but it sure doesn't sound right when you sing it.
Insert the name of your hometown to replace Rockville...then sing along. It works well.
 bam23 wrote:

I previously thought that this referred to Rockdale County, Georgia. Apparently not but that's what I hear and will for evermore.

 
And I thought it was Rockdale, NSW.  Near where I grew up, and not some where I'd want to go back to!
This record walks on water...just saying....{#Bounce}
 sirdroseph wrote:


I actually think they were referring to Rockville GA.
 
I previously thought that this referred to Rockdale County, Georgia. Apparently not but that's what I hear and will for evermore.
Yeah, something about the rhythms, chiming guitars, enticing drumbeats, and layered cryptic vocals made this a truly landmark album!
 don't go there..  {#Naughty}
I can't disagree more strongly. Just the distinct vocal differences alone between songs that Keelor sings lead on and the ones that Cuddy sings lead on. Then there are the dark and broody songs, the love songs and the uplifting songs. Their songs sound no more alike than any bands do.

Regarding the R.E.M song it is very typical in sound of their early period.
 

Beaker wrote:

All Blue Rodeo songs sound the same, IMO.  I've seen them often enough to even walk out on one of their concerts.  Meh band.

And yes, there are similarities here.

This track certainly doesn't have what I might think of as the identifiable R.E.M. sound.   Good track.  Surprising that it's them.

 

 sirdroseph wrote:


I actually think they were referring to Rockville GA.
 
All Rockvilles suck. There's a law. 
 leafmold wrote:
I do everything in my power to avoid Rockville—armpit that it is.
Sorry—I'm sure that will offend!

 

I actually think they were referring to Rockville GA.



 moodfood wrote:
we were pleasantly surprised to hear this new kind of sound back in the early 80's.. {#Clap}

 
What?  Def Leppard wasn't getting it done for ya'?
205486223 bef8cc9660 o
Reckoning is such a fantastic record in its totality, and this standout so hard. As much as I think the downfall of REM was moving to WB records, it is more likely to be the loss of Bill Berry.
We get a bit too much of REM at times, but this is clearly one of the best songs, unknown to me, thanks B&R
 bam23 wrote:

I will make 2 observations here. First, the Gertrude Stein quote apparently was in reference to her childhood home having slipped into something else (or so I have heard), and may not be justifiably used to disparage Oakland. At the Berkeley/Oakland line presently stand large signs/sculptures stating HERE and THERE. Second, what could a Valium trip possible be? Trip cannot be the right word for the pharmacological muting of an 'experience'.

 
Point taken about Gertrude Stein's quote; apparently there is debate about she meant. However, the unflattering shoe fits Oakland from what I saw, so Oakland gets to wear it along with Rockville. Maybe there's a lot more to Oakland than the acres of shipping containers that I saw when passing by on a BART train, but I doubt it. The city seems to have spiraled into a mess of poverty, crime, departing businesses and demands for more municipal services. 

Maybe things have improved there recently, what with exploding real estate prices in San Fran and the pressure to find affordable housing outside that city. I hope so. Someone on the Oakland Wiki asserts that the New York Times is way behind in its bleak depiction of the city. 

Rockville wasn't and isn't poor. It's more of a bedroom community at a ludicrous extreme. The developers threw up whole neighborhoods of the same houses at once. I'd regularly get lost walking near my townhouse because it all looked the same. People don't congregate or mingle anywhere in the city as far as I could tell. If developers deliberately wanted to subdue and sedate a populace, they'd look closely at Rockville for how to succeed. 

As for your objection to "valium trip": I've never taken Valium so I can't use personal experience to reply. However, people do take Valium just for kicks; I think they're looking to feel "comfortably numb" as the Pink Floyd song has it. You're not knocked unconscious when you take a normal dose of Valium; your experience of your surroundings is altered. Some people feel zombified, others are more talkative, sociable and tactile.

Rockville did feel like a zombifying drug trip. It reminded me at times of Pleasantville from the movie of the same name—safe and sanitized suburbia where someone else had done the thinking and decision-making for you.    
Hey, 10,000 maniacs has a fantastic version that would work well on RP
 sharkey wrote:

Checked to see 'cause I was sure it was BR. It's not the wine

 
This pre-dates any recordings from Blue Rodeo.
 kcar wrote:

I lived in Rockville, MD for less than a year and that was way too long. As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, CA, "There's no there there." It's largely a collection of large-scale development where all the houses (or townhouses) look the same. There's no downtown to speak of and the heart of the city mostly consists of blah concrete buildings housing the county government. It's a place where the developers won and the residents never quite figured out that they needed to fight for a sense of community. Now, with all the traffic congestion in the DC area, there are half-hearted attempts to "urbanize" areas alongside highways with semi-contained communities but the battle was lost long ago. Sadly that's true of a lot the DC suburbs. 

The people I really knew in Rockville were some of most incurious and cocooned folks I'd ever met. If something didn't affect their daily lives, they didn't care. The whole place felt like a really boring Valium trip. I find it quite poignant that F. Scott Fitzgerald—one of the 20th century's great authors, a man obsessed with class, wealth and glamor—is buried in Rockville in a crowded crooked cemetery right next to a nondescript stretch of a six-lane highway. 

 

 
I will make 2 observations here. First, the Gertrude Stein quote apparently was in reference to her childhood home having slipped into something else (or so I have heard), and may not be justifiably used to disparage Oakland. At the Berkeley/Oakland line presently stand large signs/sculptures stating HERE and THERE. Second, what could a Valium trip possible be? Trip cannot be the right word for the pharmacological muting of an 'experience'.
Everybody in my mushrooming multitude of homeless camps loves this song soooo much...  from a marvelous album...
 david927 wrote:
It was 1990, Chico, California and I was in college. I knew would have to go soon and I wanted to go, and yet I was slowly realizing I didn't ever want to leave. Like a doomed relationship I knew it wasn't going to last but somewhere along the line I had been uncareful, looked once maybe too long into her eyes and now found I was in love. And I listened to this song and it called me to not waste another year there after graduation, and at the same time, begged me not to go.

 
The power of music;providing both the push and pull of our lives. 

Thanks for the anecdote.         

Nice tune.  

Heard it live quite a few times back in their/my early years ...



 
 softjeans wrote:
 R7-12 wrote:

Agreed, neither have I.
 




Yeah...gotta be R.E.M.'s best ever...

 
It's their best IMO...as addictive as chocolate...
EVERYBODY in my homeless camp loves this song...
 Deep6 wrote:
I could have swore this was Blue Rodeo......anyone else get that comparison...or is it the red wine talking?

 
Checked to see 'cause I was sure it was BR. It's not the wine
 Baketown wrote:

Early REM is timeless!!



 
No,it's just so irritating it seems that way.
 jmkate wrote:
I have always wondered if there is a resentful and mildly hurt pro-Rockville group somewhere. Just curious.

 
I lived in Rockville, MD for less than a year and that was way too long. As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, CA, "There's no there there." It's largely a collection of large-scale development where all the houses (or townhouses) look the same. There's no downtown to speak of and the heart of the city mostly consists of blah concrete buildings housing the county government. It's a place where the developers won and the residents never quite figured out that they needed to fight for a sense of community. Now, with all the traffic congestion in the DC area, there are half-hearted attempts to "urbanize" areas alongside highways with semi-contained communities but the battle was lost long ago. Sadly that's true of a lot the DC suburbs. 

The people I really knew in Rockville were some of most incurious and cocooned folks I'd ever met. If something didn't affect their daily lives, they didn't care. The whole place felt like a really boring Valium trip. I find it quite poignant that F. Scott Fitzgerald--one of the 20th century's great authors, a man obsessed with class, wealth and glamor--is buried in Rockville in a crowded crooked cemetery right next to a nondescript stretch of a six-lane highway. 

 
we were pleasantly surprised to hear this new kind of sound back in the early 80's.. {#Clap}
Not sure, but there is a Rockville, MD contingency of folks ... Well, who claim various stories that the song was written about this or that and so and so and so's girlfriend ... 
I have always wondered if there is a resentful and mildly hurt pro-Rockville group somewhere. Just curious.
I do everything in my power to avoid Rockville--armpit that it is.
Sorry--I'm sure that will offend!
But I've never been to Rockville.... I don't understand...
Wade, don't go back to Rockford.....
 Stingray wrote:
ANYTHING BUT ROCKVILLE!

Just a tiny-little boring Nothing!

 
I agree with Stingray? Yes, this is the weakest REM song ever.
Ah, the good old days.....  What an absolutely gorgeous melody!! {#Daisy}
 jim1964 wrote:

....could have been the wine, could have been the Willie Nelson.

  Wow, now I have a craving for Gord!
 Deep6 wrote:
I could have swore this was Blue Rodeo......anyone else get that comparison...or is it the red wine talking?

 
....could have been the wine, could have been the Willie Nelson.
I could have swore this was Blue Rodeo......anyone else get that comparison...or is it the red wine talking?
Fresh outta high school, this song was playing on college radio stations and was a fresh, new sound. Not the typical synth based music or hair metal that was so dominant back then.
REM Reckoning is a phenomenal album. 
 Cynaera wrote:
Scrolling through the comments, I'd assume that romeotuma loves this song.

I agree.  I've never heard it before, but I love R.E.M., and this song is very good for the ears.  Hi, romeotuma! {#Wave} Miss you here. Hope you're okay, after dancing like a bow-legged gypsy mule-skinner. Oh, crap - I was trying to be so compassionate and concerned, and then you come up with that... I'm laughing my assets off. Bow-legged gypsy mule-skinner???

I might have to sorta love you after that one.... {#Roflol}
 

miss you so much, Cynaera...

love this marvelous song...
 
The story of my life in 3 minutes or less. Amazing song. Whenever I hear this song I have to stop for a while, listen, and be.

Shazam!  Love it!  Amen!
 

what a fantastic classic...  love this album...
 
 R7-12 wrote:

Agreed, neither have I.
 




Yeah...gotta be R.E.M.'s best ever...

EVERYBODY in my church loves this song...
 
Everyone in my confessional booth wants to know why you don't play the newer live version with Mike Mills on lead vocals.
These guys sound like they're from Georgia or somethin'.

Early REM is timeless!!


 SheRidesABeemer wrote:
Would love to hear Natalie Merchants version too.
 

Definitely would not.
 terrapin52 wrote:
This is one of the greatest songs on one of my favorite albums of all time.  I've never heard this song played anywhere else other than my car, living room, and my job.  RP rules!!!
 
Agreed, neither have I.
 gjeeg wrote:
Simple, uncomplicated beauty.
Q:Where does so much of modern music go off the rails?
A: Trying to scratch anywhere close to this kind of accomplishment, and finding it impossible.
The unhurried arrangement, the embrace of melody and harmony, heartfelt lyrics.
 
Well Said.
Simple, uncomplicated beauty.
Q:Where does so much of modern music go off the rails?
A: Trying to scratch anywhere close to this kind of accomplishment, and finding it impossible.
The unhurried arrangement, the embrace of melody and harmony, heartfelt lyrics.
It's a great song, but there are so many great REM songs and I would love it if RP would mix it up . For example, murmur and reckoning we're great, too.


We be wantonly dancing...  love this song...

 
This is one of the greatest songs on one of my favorite albums of all time.  I've never heard this song played anywhere else other than my car, living room, and my job.  RP rules!!!
 auburntigerrich wrote:
Hey, I was just in Rockville yesterday!  But I want to go back... my rock climbing gym is up there...
 


It a beautiful day in Rockville today. Come on by!
dollar for dollar, one of my favorite albums of all time...


love this song soooo much...

 
 olivertwist wrote:
Perfect song.
 


I agree...  this song puts a spring in my step this winter day...

 
Perfect song.
Sweeeet!


love it love it love it love it!!!!

 


marvelous...  love it...

 
the epitomy of Ho Hum

EVERYBODY in my hotel room loves this song...
 
 nance wrote:

michael stipe does not sing on this song.....I saw them in concert last year and think it was the bass player....
 
Mike Mills sings the high harmony on the studio version, Mike Stipe sings lead. 
In the last concert I saw, you are right, it was reversed with Mike Mills singing lead and Mike Stipe singing harmony.

It was 1990, Chico, California and I was in college. I knew would have to go soon and I wanted to go, and yet I was slowly realizing I didn't ever want to leave. Like a doomed relationship I knew it wasn't going to last but somewhere along the line I had been uncareful, looked once maybe too long into her eyes and now found I was in love. And I listened to this song and it called me to not waste another year there after graduation, and at the same time, begged me not to go.
 Cynaera wrote:
Maybe it's my imagination, but does Stipe's "twanginess" come out stronger than usual on this song?  No matter - I love it more every time I hear it! {#Dancingbanana_2}
 
michael stipe does not sing on this song.....I saw them in concert last year and think it was the bass player....
Would love to hear Natalie Merchants version too.
I grew up in Rockville and left in 1987!

absolutably awesome...  love it...
 mjcunningham59 wrote:
Love it! Add piano to any REM song and it is heavenly. Has me bouncing and twirling around the house

 


I hear ya!  We are dancing here right now...  love this song...


Love it! Add piano to any REM song and it is heavenly. Has me bouncing and twirling around the house



This is such a great song...  I remember when this song first appeared like it was last year...  love it...

 
 Cynaera wrote:
Maybe it's my imagination, but does Stipe's "twanginess" come out stronger than usual on this song?  No matter - I love it more every time I hear it! {#Dancingbanana_2}
 


I don't know the answer to that— just heed his warning and don't go back to Rockville, Georgia...

love this song...


 
Maybe it's my imagination, but does Stipe's "twanginess" come out stronger than usual on this song?  No matter - I love it more every time I hear it! {#Dancingbanana_2}
Early spring 1985... headed for Dallas from South Fl with all my stuff packed in a tiny u-haul.  A cassette with Reckoning on one side and Murmur on the other playing over and over.  Crazy days.
My personal favorite all-time R.E.M song.  Just so you know.
 Stingray wrote:


Tell me about the magic of VEGAS Hotel-rooms!

You are sooo funny! Really (no irony)!
 


Thanks!  Hope you are having a great new year...

this song rocks...  love it...

 
 romeotuma wrote:

Thank you...  you are marvelous...  life is grand here— hope the same is true for you... and yes, I love this song soooo much...

 
 

Tell me about the magic of VEGAS Hotel-rooms!

You are sooo funny! Really (no irony)!

 Businessgypsy wrote:
The best REM song? It may be so...
 
I don't know if it is my favorite of theirs when they were good or not, but I cannot think of any other at the moment, so it's pretty damned good, how bout that?{#Cowboy}
ANYTHING BUT ROCKVILLE!

Just a tiny-little boring Nothing!
 Cynaera wrote:
Scrolling through the comments, I'd assume that romeotuma loves this song.

I agree.  I've never heard it before, but I love R.E.M., and this song is very good for the ears.  Hi, romeotuma! {#Wave} Miss you here. Hope you're okay.
 


Thank you...  you are marvelous...  life is grand here— hope the same is true for you... and yes, I love this song soooo much...

 
Scrolling through the comments, I'd assume that romeotuma loves this song.

I agree.  I've never heard it before, but I love R.E.M., and this song is very good for the ears.  Hi, romeotuma! {#Wave} Miss you here. Hope you're okay, after dancing like a bow-legged gypsy mule-skinner. Oh, crap - I was trying to be so compassionate and concerned, and then you come up with that... I'm laughing my assets off. Bow-legged gypsy mule-skinner???

I might have to sorta love you after that one.... {#Roflol}


We be dancing like bow-legged gypsy mule-skinners...  love this song...

 
Hey, I was just in Rockville yesterday!  But I want to go back... my rock climbing gym is up there...
Channeling Fat Mattress.


This song is still soooo gooood for the ears...

 


love it...

 
 romeotuma wrote:

Great song...  love it...  Rockville is about 80 miles south of Athens, in the middle of nowhere...  don't go back to Rockville...  stay in Athens, like R.E.M. did...

romeotuna wrote:

 

Rockville is about 80 miles south of Athens... in the middle of nowhere...  don't go back to Rockville...  this is a great song...



  

So I see now you're repeating your previous comments in addition to the ever-inspiring "This is so good for the ears" line.  Plus, you don't even have the right Rockville.  Geez man. 


Even at their poppiest, early R.E.M. is one of the few bands that can credibly follow the Beatles! {#Bounce}



This song is very groovy...  love it...

 

The Performer by $Waveswinger
©2008-2010 $Waveswinger

One of the best stage presences in the history of rock and roll... in my humble opinion.

Okay, so I might be a bit biased.

Michael Stipe and Peter Buck- R.E.M.
Sasquatch Festival 2008
The Gorge, WA



TEN!
The best REM song? It may be so...