Man on the Moon (song)

"Man on the Moon"
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Automatic for the People
B-side "New Orleans Instrumental No. 2"
Released November 21, 1992 (1992-11-21)
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" single, Cassette
Recorded 1992
Genre Alternative rock
Length 5:15 (Album Version)
4:39 (Edit)
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Scott Litt & R.E.M.
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Man on the Moon"
"The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"

"Man on the Moon" is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M., released as the second single from its 1992 album Automatic for the People. The song makes numerous references to the performer Andy Kaufman, including his Elvis impersonation and work with wrestlers Fred Blassie and Jerry Lawler. The song was released as a single in 1992.

The title, video, and lyrics are a reference to the conspiracy theory that the American moon landing was faked. There have also been rumors that Andy Kaufman faked his death. The lyrics make no direct reference to this or a connection between the two, but they do imply that Kaufman should not be seen as having "nothing up his sleeve."

The song gave its name to a 1999 film based on Kaufman's life, Man on the Moon, and was used in the film's soundtrack.


Music video

The song's video, directed by Peter Care, was shot over three days in the desert, at Lancaster in the Antelope Valley area of California, in October 1992. Care kept a journal of the unusually long planning, filming, and editing process, which was published by Raygun magazine and reprinted in the R.E.M. fan club newsletter. It gave a clear idea of the amount of work, money, and attention-to-detail involved.[1]

In the video, Michael Stipe, attired in a cowboy hat, walks along a desert road. He leaps onto a passing truck, driven by Bill Berry, and hitches a ride to a truck stop where Peter Buck is tending bar and Mike Mills is shooting pool. Berry trades his truck seat for a bar stool, and along with a few of the other customers (in the shooting, they used both actors and non-actors), sings along during the choruses. After finishing his order of fries, Stipe leaves and walks off into the dusk. In the background on a small television set in the truck stop, various footage of Andy Kaufman can be seen showing.

This video was ranked #41 on Rolling Stone magazine's The 100 Top Music Videos.

Track listing

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe except as noted.

US 7", cassette and CD single

  1. "Man on the Moon" – 5:12
  2. "New Orleans Instrumental #2" – 3:48

UK "collector's edition" CD single

  1. "Man on the Moon" – 5:12
  2. "Fruity Organ" – 3:26
  3. "New Orleans Instrumental #2" – 3:48
  4. "Arms of Love" (Robyn Hitchcock) – 3:35

DE 12" and CD maxi-single

  1. "Man on the Moon" (edit) – 4:39
  2. "Turn You Inside-Out" – 4:15
  3. "Arms of Love" (Hitchcock) – 3:35

UK and DE 7" and cassette single

  1. "Man on the Moon" (edit) – 4:39
  2. "Turn You Inside-Out" – 4:15


Chart (1992) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 39
Canadian Hot 100 4
Irish Singles Chart 17
UK Singles Chart 18
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 30
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 4
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2

Cover versions

  • Tears For Fears during their period without Curt Smith (mid-90s) covered the song live a few times.
  • American indie artist Ferraby Lionheart recorded an acoustic cover of the song in 2007, which was part of a tribute album to Drive that was organized by Stereogum. The album also contains a version by The Shout Out Louds. It is available for free download over the Internet. [2]


  1. ^ Gray, M: "It Crawled from the South"
  2. ^

External links

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