Tongue (song)

"Tongue" is a song by R.E.M., released as the fifth and final single from their ninth studio album Monster. It was only released in the US, UK and Ireland. In the song, lead singer Michael Stipe performs in falsetto; he has stated on several occasions that the narrator of the song is female. Stipe has also said the track is "all about cunnilingus."[4]

Single by R.E.M.
from the album Monster
B-side"Tongue" (instrumental version)
ReleasedOctober 21, 1995 (1995-10-21)
LabelWarner Bros.
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Crush with Eyeliner"
"E-Bow the Letter"

On March 1, 1995, Bill Berry had to leave the stage during a performance of this song complaining of a serious headache. It in fact turned out to be a brain aneurysm, and is the likely reason for his leaving the band in October 1997. On subsequent dates Berry admitted that it gave him an eerie feeling every time the band performed "Tongue". [citation needed]

The single's video, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and shot during the soundcheck prior to the band's June 20, 1995 performance at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, New York,[5] shows a group of teenagers in a living room watching the band perform on TV. The version of the song that plays is slightly higher in tone than that of the album version. It was included as a bonus video on the DVD release of In View - The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

The three live songs that make up the CD single's B-sides were performed on Saturday Night Live in 1994.

"Tongue" was performed frequently throughout the tours in support of Monster and Up but would only make three more live appearances ever again in 2003.

Track listing

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe

British and German CD single
  1. "Tongue" – 4:08
  2. "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (Live) – 4:04
  3. "Bang and Blame" (Live) – 4:52
  4. "I Don't Sleep, I Dream" (Live) – 3:48
US 7" and CD single
  1. "Tongue" – 4:09
  2. "Tongue" (Live) – 4:34
British 7" and cassette single
  1. "Tongue" – 4:09
  2. "Tongue" (Instrumental version) – 4:09
  • "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?," "Bang And Blame" and "I Don't Sleep, I Dream" recorded live at Saturday Night Live appearance, New York, New York, on November 12, 1994.
  • "Tongue" recorded live at Detroit, Michigan on June 7, 1995.
  • The UK cassette single had a reverse insert where the b sides from all other singles could be dubbed onto a cassette and the insert flipped to show artwork and track listing for a live album.


Chart (1995) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[6] 12
UK Singles (OCC)[7] 13