Driver 8

"Driver 8" is the second single from American musical group R.E.M.'s third album, Fables of the Reconstruction. Released in September 1985, the song peaked at number 22 on the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was not released in Europe and did not chart in the United States.[3]

"Driver 8"
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Fables of the Reconstruction
ReleasedSeptember 1985
Producer(s)Joe Boyd
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Cant Get There from Here"
"Driver 8"
"Wendell Gee"

The song refers to the Southern Crescent, a passenger train operated by the Southern Railroad until 1979, and continues today (with fewer stops) as the Amtrak Crescent. In the music video, it shows Chessie System trains running around Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Guitarist Peter Buck admitted in the liner notes for the band's 2003 compilation album In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 that the verse chords for the song "Imitation of Life" were unintentionally taken from the verse chords of "Driver 8."

In a Rolling Stone interview in 2009, Stipe said about his vocals: "It's like breathing - I don't think about it when I sing it. I was listening to these live tapes and thought it was a beautiful song with incredible imagery. I listen to our old albums and think, 'OK, this is where that went wrong, this is a way to improve that.' And 'Wow, that's really good. You're not the hoax you think you are.'"[2] A harmonica was played in a mimicking fashion to sound like a train whistle.[2]

Cover versions

  • It was covered by Hootie and the Blowfish in 2000 on their covers-only album Scattered, Smothered and Covered after the band performed a live version of the song with R.E.M. on the UK's TFI Friday in October 1998.
  • Dennis "Cannonball" Caplinger's bluegrass instrumental cover appears on 2001's Pickin' on R.E.M.: The Bluegrass Tribute.
  • Death Cab for Cutie played the song on their 2006 UK tour for the album Plans, although they have not released an official recording of it.
  • Old 97's covered it on their covers-only EP Mimeograph released on July 6, 2010.
  • Canadian rock band The Watchmen covered the song at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on September 24, 2011, shortly after news of R.E.M.'s breakup was made public. Their version was released on the download-only live album Radar Redux.[4]
  • Indie rock band The Walkmen covered the song as a part of The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series in August 2010.
  • Santa Cruz Bicycles produced a mountain bike model called Driver 8. It was first released in 2009.[5]
  • Love Canon covered the song on their 2018 album Cover Story.

Track listing

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe unless otherwise indicated.

7": IRS / IRS-52678 (US)

  1. "Driver 8" - 3:24
  2. "Crazy" (Pylon) - 3:05


Chart (1985) Peak
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 22


  1. Caramanica, Jon (June 21, 2008). "R.E.M.: The Histories and Commentaries". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  2. "Driver 8 by R.E.M." Song Facts. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-26. Retrieved 2018-12-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. Andrew Dodd. "Santa Cruz Driver 8". BikeRadar. Retrieved 3 May 2016.