What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

February 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC | 0 Comments |

Songs in Our Heart # 89

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (by REM) (written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe; released September 1994) [Out of a rich array of REM songs, we like this best because it is an authentically crazy rocker and the guitar sounds providing punctuation are eerily reminiscent of the backwards coda to I’m Only Sleeping by The Beatles, and the repeated licks on bass roll like thunder.  It was inspired by a random attack on TV newsman Dan Rather in New York City, when he was King-Hit, kicked and punched as he lay on the sidewalk* by a man babbling the repeated query, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”  The lyrics are equally opaque, yet seem to fit just like O.J.’s glove did not.

Later the assailant was tagged as one William Tager, who thought ‘the media’ were beaming signals into his head, which he could divert had he only the correct frequency.  The victim in this instance was lucky, as Tager went to jail later for murdering a NBC technician.  Who Kenneth is, we’d Rather not guess.]








(* sidewalk = pavement = footpath.  ‘Tomaeto’, ‘tomarto.’)


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