The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
R.E.M. Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

This here is the place where I will be staying
There isn't a number, you can call the pay phone
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time
If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more, oh
If I don't pick up, pick up
The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

There are scratches all around the coin slot
Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up
But this machine can only swallow money
You can't lay a patch by computer design
It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs
Tell her
Tell her she can kiss my ass
Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
That way she'll know that it's really, really, really, really me

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

Baby, instant soup doesn't really grab me
Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice
A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)

The cat in the hat came back, wreaked a lot of havoc on the way
Always had a smile and a reason to pretend
But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream
The sidewinder sleeps on his back

Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
Call me when you try to wake her up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)
I can always sleep standing up
(Call me when you try to wake her)





We've got to boogie, boogie, move on this one

Overall Meaning

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight by R.E.M. talks about the place where the singer has decided to stay. It is a payphone that doesn't have a number that you can call, and if you ring it, the singer won't pick up but suggests that you continue calling it after hanging up. The imagery of the "sidewinder" snake is used to indicate that the phone is coiled up and asleep. It is said that if you need to wake up the phone, you should call the singer.


The singer asks to be called only when trying to wake up the sidewinder phone. The phone's coin slot has scratches on it, which the singer compares to the beat of a heart trying to wake up, but it only swallows money. The machine's display has a lot of signs that are pointless, and the singer tells the person calling to tell the sidewinder to kiss his butt and laugh it off as a joke once you get through to the person.


He further describes how today he needs something more substantial than instant soup, like beans or black-eyed peas, and some Nescafe on ice. He also wouldn't mind having some candy or one of Doctor Seuss’s books read to him.


The singer juxtaposes the character of the cat in the hat's happy and pretend world with the flat, sleepy world of the snakes. Finally, he says he can always sleep while standing.


Line by Line Meaning

This here is the place where I will be staying
I'm settled here and won't be leaving anytime soon


There isn't a number, you can call the pay phone
I don't want to be bothered and won't be answering any calls


Let it ring a long, long, long, long time
Keep calling if you want, but I won't answer


If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more, oh
If I don't answer, don't bother leaving a message or trying again


If I don't pick up, pick up
I won't pick up, so don't bother trying


The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil
I'm like a sleeping snake, coiled up and sound asleep


Call me when you try to wake her up
If you want to talk to me, try waking me up first


There are scratches all around the coin slot
The payphone has been used and abused


Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up
The sound of coins dropping in the payphone is like a heart beating


But this machine can only swallow money
The payphone won't actually connect you to me, it'll just take your money


You can't lay a patch by computer design
Technology won't solve your problems or connect you to me


It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs
The world can be confusing and frustrating


Tell her
Pass on a message for me


Tell her she can kiss my ass
Tell someone I'm not interested in what they want


Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
Follow up the insult with a joke to show it wasn't serious


That way she'll know that it's really, really, really, really me
Make sure the message is clear and unmistakably from me


Baby, instant soup doesn't really grab me
Easy or shallow things don't interest me much


Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
I crave something deeper or more significant today


A can of beans or black-eyed peas, some Nescafe and ice
I want some simple, comforting treats


A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading from Doctor Seuss
Anything fun or imaginative will do


The cat in the hat came back, wreaked a lot of havoc on the way
A reference to the mischievous children's book character


Always had a smile and a reason to pretend
He may have seemed happy, but it wasn't real


But their world has flat backgrounds and little need to sleep but to dream
Life can seem bland and uneventful, and dreams are the only escape


The sidewinder sleeps on his back
A reference to the opening line, and a reminder that I'm still sound asleep


I can always sleep standing up
I'm stubborn and won't be easily shaken awake


We've got to boogie, boogie, move on this one
Let's hustle and get moving!




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

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

@geraldo35171

This here is the place I will be staying
There isn't a number
You can call the pay phone
Let it ring a long, long, long, long time
If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more
If I don't pick up, pick up
The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil

Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her

There are scratches all around the coin slot
Like a heartbeat, baby trying to wake up,
But this machine can only swallow money
You can't lay a patch by computer design
It's just a lot of stupid, stupid signs

Tell her,
Tell her she can kiss my ass,
Then laugh and say that you were only kidding
That way she'll know that it's
Really, really, really, really me

Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her

Baby, instant soup doesn't really grab me
Today I need something more sub-sub-sub-substantial
A can of beans or blackeyed peas, some Nescafe and ice,
A candy bar, a falling star, or a reading of Doctor Seuss;

Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her

The cat in the hat came back, wrecked a lot of havoc on the way,
Always had a smile and a reason to pretend
But their world has flat backgrounds
And little need to sleep but to dream
The sidewinder sleeps on his back

Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
I can always sleep standing up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
I can always sleep standing up
Call me when you try to wake her
Call me when you try to wake her up
Call me when you try to wake her
I can always sleep standing up
Call me when you try to wake her
I can always sleep standing up
Call me when you try to wake her

We've got to moogie, moogie, move on this one



All comments from YouTube:

@antdujar

I met Micheal Stipe a week ago at my job, and he was the most coolest, chill, kind person. I ended up doing a quick sketch for him after I served him his Decaf Americano and chocolate croissants. Moral of the story, even with all he has achieved and influenced, he still remained a kind and respectful human being.

@laurareilly4686

That is so class! You've reminded me - ten years ago my friend returned from a pub here in Ireland and said that a famous band had stopped by called REM. My favourite band who were soon to disband, in a rural pub up the road - livid to have missed them!

@Ricsard

I wouldn't and couldn't believe a story with a totally different conclusion!!!

Good for ya, by the way!

@jrose2014

nice, lucky you!

@paulbruce4177

Cool story bro,

@garyjenkins6629

I've always thought he would be respectful and cool. Good for you getting to meet him.

108 More Replies...

@winkofranz2931

Michael Stipe, a voice that will not be repeated!

@claudiabannister6414

As long as he remains tuned in to the only True Free-Queen-C being revealed to him in this present moment and which will require direct contact on his part....no CONVOLUTION
just REVOLUTION 💜💜💜

@QUALITY1412

100% 1 of the greatest

@soda1850

His voice touches my soul like no other. No one could ever come close to being Stipe.

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