Rapid Eye Music

Jun 1, 2018
Originally published on June 1, 2018 1:32 pm

Jonathan Coulton parodies some of the band R.E.M.'s most famous songs, rewritten to illustrate common dream experiences. Nighty night!

Heard on Ethan Slater & Kyle Jarrow: Squarely SpongeBob.

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton here with puzzle guru Greg Pliska. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thank you, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants Lindsay and Nathan. They say the most boring thing you can do is talk about your own dreams. Well, you're in luck. In this next game, we're singing about them. But first let's check in with our contestants. Lindsay, do you have a reoccurring nightmare or dream?

LINDSAY ROOTARE: I had a dream many times, and it was a very strange building that I just kept seeing over and over again, but I'd never been to it before.


ROOTARE: And then I drove by the Weehawken Public Library, and I realized that was it.


EISENBERG: In your dream, did you have to return a book or anything? Or was it...

ROOTARE: No, it has kind of a tower, and I kept dreaming about a chair in a children's wing in this tower. And then I drove by it on the highway 'cause it's right by the tunnel when you're going into Manhattan. And then I was - that's the building. That's the tower. That's where the children's wing is.

COULTON: I'm sorry - a chair in the children's wing of the tower?


COULTON: That is a terrifying image...

ROOTARE: I know.

COULTON: ...Just like an empty kid's chair in a tower.

ROOTARE: It was a normal-sized chair.

EISENBERG: Jonathan...

COULTON: I stand corrected.

EISENBERG: (Laughing) Yeah.

COULTON: Nothing weird about that.

EISENBERG: OK, so - but you seem fine.



EISENBERG: Nathan, do you have a recurring dream or nightmare? I mean, Lindsay's was a nightmare to everybody else that she classifies as a dream.

NATHAN LESLIE: Yeah, yeah.


LESLIE: Well, when I was younger, I did kind of teach myself to befriend the beasts or the monsters that were in my dreams, so I'd basically just disengage them, become their friend.

EISENBERG: Did not work in "Stranger Things."



LESLIE: No, but it worked for me.


LESLIE: Yeah, it really did.

EISENBERG: So a monster would enter your dreams, and you would go, hey, what's going on?

LESLIE: Let's chill. Let's watch Nickelodeon, you know...


LESLIE: ...Or whatever. But...

EISENBERG: Monsters love Nick Jr.

LESLIE: Yeah, well, that was well before Nick Jr.

EISENBERG: OK, sorry, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon.


LESLIE: Yeah, Nickelodeon.

EISENBERG: These are already way more creative than my dreams. In my dreams, I'm like - I sometimes wake up in a sweat. I was like, did I return that email? I mean, that's like what I do in my...


EISENBERG: ...Dreams - mundane, mundane.

LESLIE: Yeah, the anxiety work dreams are the worst.

EISENBERG: The worst.

LESLIE: They're the worst.

EISENBERG: Well, this next game is a music parody game called Rapid Eye Music. Nathan, you won the last game, so if you win this, you are in the final round. Lindsay, you need to win this, or you have to be the me in that's me in the corner.


COULTON: We rewrote songs by R.E.M., a band named for the phase of sleep where you experience vivid dreams. Now, the songs are about commonly reported dream subjects. So ring in, and tell me what dream I'm singing about. And if you get that right, for a bonus point, you can name the original R.E.M. song. You ready?


LESLIE: Ready.

COULTON: Here we go. (Singing) Bite down on a sandwich. I know that something is wrong. My crumbling molars won't stay in my head for long.


COULTON: Lindsay.

ROOTARE: Teeth falling out.

COULTON: Your teeth falling out - that is correct.


EISENBERG: I have a similar one to that. It's a nightmare where I admit to my dentist how much I really floss.


COULTON: What happens? Are they disappointed?

EISENBERG: Yeah. They're very, very disappointed in me.


COULTON: Lindsay, for a bonus point, can you identify the original song?

ROOTARE: "Losing My Religion."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.


COULTON: (Singing) Why am I in school? I'm 46 years old. The SAT's today - oh, crap.


COULTON: Lindsay.

ROOTARE: Failing a test.

COULTON: Yeah, that's good - being unprepared for a test. That's right.


EISENBERG: I still have these dreams. Who - by applause, how many people still...


EISENBERG: I still have these.

COULTON: It's the worst thing. And it really is - there really is a moment where I'm like, wait a minute; I'm pretty sure that I am done with school.


COULTON: And yet I appear to be in the fifth-grade wing at my elementary school. I don't know why. For a bonus point, can you identify the song?

ROOTARE: I cannot.

COULTON: It is called "Everybody Hurts."

ROOTARE: Oh, sorry, everyone.

COULTON: It's sad because it's true.



COULTON: (Singing) How did I get in the sky? I wish that I had learned to fly. I'm concrete bound. Here comes the ground.


COULTON: Lindsay.

ROOTARE: Falling from great heights.

COULTON: Yeah, falling - that's correct.


COULTON: Lindsay, for a bonus point, can you name the song?

ROOTARE: I am not a big R.E.M. fan.


COULTON: They were never going to come on our show anyway. It's fine. The name of the song was "Fall On Me." (Singing) Vicious, angry people after me - try to run, but my feet won't let me - vicious, angry people after me.


COULTON: Nathan.

LESLIE: Being hunted down.



COULTON: Being hunted down or chased - that's correct.


EISENBERG: By the way, that was the No. 1 most commonly reported dream according to a study of Canadian university students in 2003.

COULTON: It's because you got all those bears up there.

EISENBERG: I think it's when you have like health care and stuff like that, you know, you're just like...

COULTON: Imagine if we were in peril. Imagine what would that would be like.

EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly. What would that feel like to be not taken care of?

COULTON: For a bonus point, can you name that song, Nathan?

EISENBERG: "Shiny Happy People."

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


COULTON: This is your last clue. I am looking down from high above down at all the earthbound fools I left behind. I just forgot, but now I float just fine. I am looking down from high above.


COULTON: Nathan.

LESLIE: Flying.

COULTON: Flying, you got it.


COULTON: Can you name the song?

LESLIE: This crowd is going to kill me. (Humming).

COULTON: Oh, yeah, it's in there.

LESLIE: (Humming) This one goes out to the one I love.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right. Nice pull, Nathan, well done. Puzzle guru Greg Pliska, how did our contestants do?

GREG PLISKA: We actually have a tie.


PLISKA: So I have a tie-breaker question for you. Buzz in if you know the answer. What film famously ends with Dorothy waking up from a full-color dream?


PLISKA: Nathan.

LESLIE: "The Wizard Of Oz."

PLISKA: "The Wizard Of Oz" is correct, Nathan. And that means you have won two games, and you will be going on to the final round at the end of the show.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.