The Great Beyond
R.E.M. Lyrics


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I've watched the stars fall silent
From your eyes
All the sights that I have seen

I can't believe that
I believed I wished
That you could see
There's a new planet
In the solar system
There is nothing up my sleeve

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

In all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around

Why can't we pantomime
Just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I want the hummingbirds
The dancing bears
Sweetest dreams of you
I look into the stars
I look into the moon

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines
That were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for
Answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for answers
From the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom
I'm looking for
Answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers
In full bloom




I'm looking for
Answers from the great beyond

Overall Meaning

The song "The Great Beyond" by R.E.M. is a reflection on the unknown and the search for meaning in life. The opening lines speak of looking into someone's eyes and seeing the stars falling silent. This could represent a loss of hope or inspiration. The singer then wishes that the person could see something new, a new planet in the solar system, but the mention of having nothing up his sleeve suggests that this hope may be futile.


The chorus speaks of pushing an elephant up the stairs, a symbol of a seemingly impossible task. The tossing of punchlines that were never there and the falling piano indicate futility and failure. The singer then declares a desire to escape from the confines of time and reality, suggesting an interest in the spiritual or otherworldly. The idea of pantomiming and sleeping with wings on our feet represents a fantasy of escape and transcendence.


In the final verse, the singer speaks of breaking through and bending spoons, perhaps alluding to paranormal abilities. Keeping flowers in full bloom and looking for answers from the great beyond could be interpreted as a desire for growth and understanding, but the repetition of these lines suggests that the answers may not be easily found.


Line by Line Meaning

I've watched the stars fall silent From your eyes
I have seen you lose your hope and passion, reflected in your eyes.


All the sights that I have seen I can't believe that I believed I wished That you could see
I share all the beautiful things that I have seen, and it is hard to fathom that I used to want you to see them too.


There's a new planet In the solar system There is nothing up my sleeve
Something new has arisen, but it is not through a trick of mine; it is real.


I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs I'm tossing out punchlines That were never there Over my shoulder a piano falls Crashing to the ground
I am trying to achieve the impossible, making jokes that no one understands, and dealing with situations that are out of my control with a sense of humor while things are falling apart around me.


In all this talk of time Talk is fine But I don't want to stay around
While it is nice to talk about the concept of time, I do not want to stick around to watch it all come to an end.


Why can't we pantomime Just close our eyes And sleep sweet dreams Me and you with wings on our feet
Why can't we just enjoy the simple things like dreaming with our eyes closed and pretending we can fly?


I'm breaking through I'm bending spoons I'm keeping flowers in full bloom I'm looking for answers From the great beyond
I am breaking through the barriers that hold me back, mastering supernatural feats, and seeking answers from beyond what we know to be true.


I want the hummingbirds The dancing bears Sweetest dreams of you I look into the stars I look into the moon
I long for the beauty and wonder that nature has to offer and dream of you with a sweetness that rivals the stars and moon.


Answers from the great beyond
I am searching for answers from a higher power, beyond what our senses and understanding can comprehend.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Written by: Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comment from YouTube:

@michaelhutin5451

I've watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
All the sights that I have seen
I can't believe that I believed
I wished that you could see
There's a new planet in the solar system
There is nothing up my sleeve

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing up punch lines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

In all this talk of time, talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around
Why can't we pantomime
Just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing up punch lines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond

I want the humming birds, the dancing bears
Sweetest dreams of you
I look into the stars
I look into the moon

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing up punch lines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great
Answers from the great, answers

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond



All comments from YouTube:

@hannahds1

My mum used to play this song to me every evening before bedtime when I was a little girl. I used to demand to listen to “elephant up the stairs” every evening whilst jumping frantically on the bed holding her hands.

This has always been our song. She passed away 2 weeks ago yesterday and I listened to this on the car journey home from the hospital after her passing away holding my hand.

She was the love and light of my life. My best friend, my soulmate, my greatest confidant, supporter, and had a heart of gold. Our bond was ethereal and other worldly. It was greater than anything that could be explained in this life. It was gifted from the great beyond.

Love you forever mumma. ❤️

@SpacePriestess

Your mom is part of the Great Beyond now, watching over you and bending spoons and keeping flowers in full bloom - for the sweetest dreams of you. ❤

My dad and I loved Andy Kauffman and watched his old routines and appearances. This March, it will have been six years that I've had to live in a world without him. My heart goes out to you.

@hannahds1

@@SpacePriestess What a wonderfully kind, heartwarming response. Thank you. I believe wholeheartedly that they’re both bending spoons and keeping flowers in full bloom from a better, great beyond.

I’m sorry it’s been six years without your dad. Anytime without them is far too long and you have my respect for still standing strong. It’s lovely to have songs/media that remind you of them and take you back to happier times. All the best to you

@dande5009

Sorry for your loss. I’m glad you have these kinds of memories to hold onto ❤

@nirajshah5411

I'm so sorry for you loss. And I second what @SpacePriestess said. Your bond was/is ethereal and other worldly, and still is. Sending you love

@nirajshah5411

@@SpacePriestess Great reply to @hannahds1, I totally agree. I'm so sorry for you loss of your dad. I agree with @hannahds1 reply to you that they're both up there looking out for you two. Sending you love

6 More Replies...

@bonniehanning1258

I never paid enough attention to R.E.M. when I was younger. Now I’m 40 and it’s just what I need. Never too late when it comes to great music

@shamfrog67

I understand. I discovered REM while in middle school in the early 1980s. Their music was integral in my life thru high school and college. I also spent a lot of time in Athens, Ga visiting friends and partying where REM was always played. Their older songs bring back so many memories. Even though you're in your 40s, the music sticks with you and shapes your life.

@74davidp

For me the same 🙂

@lorimcevoy7508

Same, exactly

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