On Death Culture at Sea: Perfect Circle


In which The Gay Recluse remembers tenth grade.

Like a million other kids in 1984 we were obsessed with Murmur, by R.E.M.

Our friend Tom owned the LP and we used to go down to his room to listen to it — this was at boarding school — and then we made a tape. (That was before computers!)

The quiet, hushed lyrics really spoke to us, because we were just starting to acknowledge certain “things,” but only at night, and only in a quiet, hushed whisper.

We didn’t care what what Michael Stipe was saying, and hated everyone who made fun of him for mumbling. At least it wasn’t dumb shit about liking girls! (Not that we made that point.)

We didn’t know at the time that he would have the la$t laugh, of cour$e.

We always loved “Perfect Circle,” which was the most haunting song on the record. It was the “ballad.”

The other day it just came to us as we were getting out of the subway.

So we decided to record it.

Honestly, it’s probably not the best thing we’ve ever done, and it’s safe to say that we prefer the R.E.M. version.

But whatevs. That’s why covers are rarely easy!

Still, it was good to make the recording.

There was a time when we would have died for this song.

And in some ways, we probably did.

“Perfect Circle” by R.E.M. (Death Culture at Sea version) (Listen to the MP3)

2 Responses to “On Death Culture at Sea: Perfect Circle”

  1. 1 c.

    I think I weirdly prefer your version. It’s haunting, imperfect, and personal. The solo voice and keyboard somehow augment the poignancy of the melody.

    Are you familiar with “Claude S.” and Anything Box, probably my favorite group of the ’90s? (And in my lifetime top 5.) I’m getting a parallel vibe (esp., “Same Day & Feeling” by Saturnine) from your work. Also a fan of Echo & B, and have my own associations with them — esp. “Lips Like Sugar.”

  2. Hey C — thanks on both counts. (I should add that “Same Day/Feeling” is also me just a few days earlier, so not really Saturnine…). I’m not too familiar with Anything Box, mostly because I was an indie-rock snob throughout most of the nineties and my sense is that they existed outside of the narrow confines of my snobbish little world (I even worked in a record store!)…but that said, they seem very cool and I’ll keep an eye out.

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