R.E.M. Lyric Annotations FAQ
R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction: Kohoutek


 [Fables of the Reconstruction]

The song was inspired by [...] a comet first sighted on 7 March 1973 by Dr. Lubos [Kahoutek], a Czech astronomer working in the Hamburg Observatory. The comet, duly named in his honour, promised to be one of the great spectacles of the century, and whipped up all kinds of End Is Nigh hysteria among the doom-mongers. In mid-January 1974, however, when it arrived at its closest point to Earth, it was revealed to be rather pale and uninteresting. [...] To add to the sense of anti-climax, it was revealed that [Kahoutek] would not grace our skies again for another 10 million years. [ICFTS]

"flyin' fish"
Any of various marine fishes of the family Exocoetidae, having enlarged, winglike pectoral fins capable of sustaining them in brief, gliding flight over the water. [American Heritage Dictionary]

"Scissors, paper, stone"
Refers to the children's game. [Ron Henry]

"If you stand and holler, these prayers will talk"
This suggests the Biblical saying (Luke 19:39-40) that if someone is kept quiet the very stones will cry out. [Ron Henry]

"Michael built a bridge...Michael tore it down"
Presumably Michael Stipe. [Ron Henry]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.