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R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction: Life and How to Live It


 [Fables of the Reconstruction]

Life and How to Live It
mr.mekis, of life and how to live it, had actualyy divided his 1 house into 2 apts, each outfitted diff. than the other, on meigs str. in tinytown.i made it 2 houses for hyperbolic clarity. [Stipe, on AOL] * This is the title of book written by a Mr. Mekis of rural Georgia, whose schizophrenic behavior the song narrates. [Ron Henry] * If I have my story correct, a man died, and when they went into his house, they found one half decortated one way and the other half completely differently. It seems as though the man lived life through two distinctly different personalities. And the book was discovered (like 200 or so copies) in the back of the house. [Joe Locke] * At the LA Universal Amphitheatre 9-86 show, Michael told this story: "A man had a house, he built a wall down the middle of it, he had an apartment on this side, he had an apartment on this side. (To a screaming person in the audience:) Shut up. In this apartment he had furniture, clothes, food, books... a cat. In this apartment he had different food, different clothes, different furniture, different books. And a gerbil. ...No that's not true. He would live over on this side for a while, until he got tired of it, then he would take off his clothes and put his books down on the counter, and he'd move over to this side for a while until he got tired of it and then move back over to this side and he flip-flopped back and forth until he died. When he died they went into the house and they crawled back in the back apartment, back in this closet, over here... And the whole closet was filled, floor to ceiling, with (someone in the crowd yells 'Gerbils!') -- this is my story, c'mon you guys... This is true, by the way, this is incidentally a true story. Peter can confirm it for you. (Peter Buck, wryly: 'This is indeed true.') Must be getting old.... When he died they went back in this part over here and in the closet they found these books piled up, from the floor to the ceiling, packed in, and it was this book that he wrote and every single copy of the book that was ever printed was in there, he never gave one away or showed it to anybody so nobody ever knew that he wrote it. He just kept it there. And the name of the book was Life and How to Live It." (Furious guitar intro to song.) [Ron Henry]

"Two doors to go between the wall"
Mekis divided his house into two apartments, each outfitted differently, so that he always had one that fit his changing mood. [Ron Henry]

"Keep these books well stocked away"
At his death, a closet full of copies of the book were found stashed away. [Ron Henry]

"My carpenter's out and running about"
The carpenter is presumably doing the work of dividing the house. [Ron Henry]

"what I have hidden there"
What's hidden is the stash of books. [Ron Henry]

"Can't you see you made my ears go tin?"
Tin ear = deaf. [Ron Henry]

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Lyrics from Kipp Teague's Lyric Archive.