Whistle as the wind blows through the leaves…”Wendell Gee” from 1985’s Fables of the Reconstruction

Wendell Gee – R.E.M. (1985) 24/192 FLAC HD 1080p ~MetalGuruMessiah~

“Wendell Gee” was released on R.E.M.’s third studio album Fables of the Reconstruction (also known as Reconstruction of the Fables) on June 10th 1985. This strangely beautiful little tune (or is that beautifully strange little tune? 😉 has always been one of my favorite R.E.M. tracks…been wanting to vid it forever, this isn’t really the video I wanted, but it’s a tricky one to get the right images for, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy the effort!

Fables of the Reconstruction, a concept album of Southern Gothic themes and characters, was the only album recorded by the group outside of the United States.

Despite the growing audience and critical acclaim experienced by the band after its first two albums, Murmur and Reckoning, R.E.M. decided to make noticeable changes to its style of music and recording habits, including a change in producer to Joe Boyd and in recording location to London, England. Boyd was best known for his work with modern English folk musicians, including such acts such as Fairport Convention and Nick Drake.

It was still a conceptual record by R.E.M. standards: lyrically, the album explores the mythology and landscape of the South, and the title and chorus of “Cant Get There from Here”, the album’s first single (intentionally misspelled, like most contractions and possessives in R.E.M. titles), is a rural American colloquialism sometimes used in response to a request by travelers for difficult directions (the video for the song received airplay on MTV).

Upon release, Fables of the Reconstruction reached #28 in the United States (going gold in 1991) and was the band’s best showing yet in the UK, peaking at #35. Recorded during a period of internal strife—largely due to the R.E.M. members’ homesickness and an unpleasant London winter—the band’s unenthusiastic view of the album has been public for years, and is often reflected among fans and the press. Drummer Bill Berry was quoted in the early 1990s as saying that Fables of the Reconstruction “sucked”; frontman Michael Stipe once shared the opinion but lately has said he considers it home to some of their more notable songs, telling producer Joe Boyd that he had grown to love the album.

Peter Buck, in the liner notes of the 25th Anniversary Deluxe edition, said, “Over the years, a certain misapprehension about Fables of the Reconstruction has built up. For some reason, people have the impression that the members of R.E.M. don’t like the record. Nothing could be further from the truth. […] It’s a personal favorite, and I’m really proud of how strange it is. Nobody but R.E.M. could have made that record.”

Fables was often characterized by a slow tempo and an intentionally murky sound, in contrast with the more upbeat and jangly (if equally abstract) sound of earlier R.E.M. material. Nevertheless, the focus on American folk instruments such as the banjo in “Wendell Gee” and a few additional orchestrations (string instruments in “Feeling Gravitys Pull” and honking brass in “Cant Get There from Here”) began the band’s route toward the layered, acoustic-based sound they adopted for their popular breakthrough in the late ’80s and early ’90s with albums such as Green, Out of Time, and Automatic for the People.

My previous R.E.M. video: Cuyahoga – R.E.M. (1986) Remastered FLAC HD 1080p ~MetalGuruMessiah~

That’s when Wendell Gee
Takes a tug upon the string
That held the line of trees
Behind the house he lived in
He was reared to give respect
But somewhere down the line he chose
To whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves

He had a dream one night
That the tree had lost its middle
So he built a trunk of chicken wire
To try and hold it up
But the wire, the wire turned to lizard skin
And when he climbed it sagged
There wasn’t even time to say
Goodbye to Wendell Gee
So whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves

There wasn’t even time to say
Goodbye to Wendell Gee
So whistle as the wind blows
And listen as the wind blows through the leaves
If the wind were colors
And if the air could speak
Then whistle as the wind blows
And whistle as the wind blows through the leaves


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