Bad Day – Unveiling the Anthem of Societal Despondence


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for R.E.M.'s Bad Day at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Prophetic Public Service Announcement for Modern Times
  5. Dancing the St. Vitus Subcommittee Prize Jig
  6. A Chorus that Captures the Quintessence of Desperation
  7. Peeling Back the Layers: The Song’s Hidden Meanings
  8. Earworms with an Edge: Memorable Lines that Bite

Lyrics

A public service Announcement followed me home the other day
I paid it never mind
Go away
Shit so thick you could stir it with a stick- free Teflon whitewashed presidency
We’re sick of being jerked around
Wear that on your sleeve

Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, Lord
Count your blessings
We’re sick of being jerked around
We all fall down

Have you ever seen the televised St. Vitus Subcommittee Prize
Investigation dance? Those-ants-in-pants glances
Well, look behind the eyes
It’s a hallowed, hollow anesthetized
“Save my own ass, screw these guys”
Smoke and mirror lock down

Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, Lord
Count your blessings
The papers wouldn’t lie!
I sigh
Not one more

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

We’re dug in the deep, the price is steep
The auctioneer is such a creep
The lights went out, the oil ran dry
We blamed it on the other guy
Sure, all men are created equal
Here’s the church, here’s the steeple
“Please stay tuned – we cut to sequel”
Ashes to ashes, we all fall down

Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, Lord
Count your blessings
Ignore the lower fears
Oh, this means war

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, Lord
Count your blessings
We’re sick of being jerked around
We all fall down

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

It’s been a bad day
Please don’t take a picture
It’s been a bad day
Please

Full Lyrics

In a world littered with pop earworms and transient musical trends, R.E.M.’s ‘Bad Day’ stands as a testament to lyrical depth and sociopolitical commentary encased within a melody. Like a time capsule capturing the zeitgeist of its era, ‘Bad Day’ delves into the realms of public disillusionment, media skepticism, and the common man’s exasperation.

The song’s surface-level simplicity belies a rich tapestry of metaphors, a scathing critique on the state of affairs during the early 2000s. Through the veil of its catchy riffs, ‘Bad Day’ encapsulates the collective sigh of a society burdened by scandals, political ineptitude, and the toll of modern living.

A Prophetic Public Service Announcement for Modern Times

The song commences as a ‘public service announcement’ seemingly stalking the protagonist, symbolizing the unavoidable nature of socio-political narratives that follow us home, invading our private lives. R.E.M. effectively weaves the prominence of political messaging into the fabric of daily existence, suggesting a society unable to escape the pervasive influence of those in power.

This theme of being hounded by politics and propaganda is soaked with the cynicism felt by many during the political climate of the time. The reference to ‘Teflon whitewashed presidency’ speaks to the frustration of perceived Teflon-coated politicians who appeared unaffected by the controversies that surrounded them.

Dancing the St. Vitus Subcommittee Prize Jig

In a piercing indictment of political farce, Michael Stipe and his bandmates conjure the imagery of a ‘televised St. Vitus Subcommittee Prize Investigation dance.’ This bizarre, almost grotesque display of ants-in-pants restlessness juxtaposes with the calculated composure that often masks political theater.

R.E.M. posits that, behind this facade, there’s an ‘anesthetized’ numbness—a willful ignorance adopted by those too self-involved to care for the greater good. The hollow-eyed ‘Save my own ass, screw these guys’ mantra encapsulates the selfish individualism pervading power structures.

A Chorus that Captures the Quintessence of Desperation

The repetitive plea, ‘It’s been a bad day, please don’t take a picture,’ rings out as a universal cry for anonymity amidst personal and communal tumult. It’s the desire to remain unseen in the moment of defeat—a longing for the luxury to process pain without the unblinking, unyielding eye of the public lens.

The choice of the word ‘please’ lends a beseeching quality to the refrain, highlighting a visceral human vulnerability. This is the echo of a society begging for a respite from the relentless cycle of exposure and judgment—a pause from the world’s critical gaze.

Peeling Back the Layers: The Song’s Hidden Meanings

Beneath the deceptively simple structure of ‘Bad Day’ is an indictment of the disparate societal woes we face: media manipulation, economic uncertainty, and existential ennui. References to oil running dry and the auctioneer embody a broader anxiety about resource scarcity, financial instability, and a lack of leadership integrity.

The line, ‘Here’s the church, here’s the steeple,’ cheekily insinuates a loss of faith not only in religious institutions but in the foundational pillars of society. The ‘sequel’ mentioned suggests a sequel to societal decay, a continuation of disillusionment and disarray, offering a smartly cloaked cautionary tale.

Earworms with an Edge: Memorable Lines that Bite

‘Broadcast me a joyful noise unto the times, Lord’ stands as a paradoxically satirical prayer against the backdrop of chaos and disbelief that characterizes ‘Bad Day.’ It’s a call for a semblance of hope, a signal to break through the static of societal disquietude that contorts into a sarcastic plea for divine intervention in a secular world.

Another line that sears itself into the collective consciousness is ‘We’re sick of being jerked around.’ It’s a blunt admission of public fatigue, a vocalization of the ceaseless tug-of-war between the governed and their leaders, where the governed find themselves perennially on the losing side.

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