Strange Currencies

"Strange Currencies" is a song by R.E.M.. It was included on the album Monster and was also released as the album's third single in 1995. The single hit number 9 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 47 in the United States. Like "Everybody Hurts" on R.E.M.'s previous album, it is in 6/8.

"Strange Currencies"
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Monster
B-side"Strange Currencies" (instrumental version)
ReleasedApril 18, 1995 (1995-04-18)
LabelWarner Bros.
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Bang and Blame"
"Strange Currencies"
"Crush with Eyeliner"


Stipe has said that the song is about "when somebody actually thinks that, through words, they're going to be able to convince somebody that they are their one and only."[3]

The song almost didn't make it on the album, due to its rhythmic similarities to "Everybody Hurts." Yet Michael Stipe's melody, the band felt, was too good to pass over, so the original rhythm was slightly reworked.


The video, directed by Mark Romanek, was shot on the first anniversary of the death of Michael Stipe's close friend River Phoenix and features River Phoenix's last girlfriend, actress Samantha Mathis.[citation needed]. It also features an early performance by actor and model Norman Reedus. It is in black and white, and shows the band playing in an industrial area. The images of the band are interspersed with other shots, some of which, such as a child playing with a dead bird, suggest urban decay.


"Strange Currencies" was played live frequently throughout the Monster tour, but wasn't performed live again until 2003, where the song would then only appear on and off throughout various set lists until their final tour in 2008.

Track listing

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

12" and CD Maxi-single
  1. "Strange Currencies" – 3:52
  2. "Drive" (live)1 – 4:17
  3. "Funtime" (D. Jones/Osterberg) (live)1 – 2:16
  4. "Radio Free Europe" (live)1 – 4:43
7", Cassette, and CD single
  1. "Strange Currencies" – 3:52
  2. "Strange Currencies" (instrumental version) – 3:52

1 Recorded at the 40 Watt Club, Athens, Georgia; November 19, 1992. The performance, a benefit for Greenpeace, was recorded on a solar-powered mobile studio.