“Winged Mammal Theme”: Batty B-Side

Michael Stipe and his REM bandmates, it would appear, are bat fans, as evidenced by their non-LP B-side, “Winged Mammal Theme.”   This abstract (near) instrumental take on “The Batman Theme” – flip side to their 1992 hit, “Drive” – would be rejected, interestingly enough, for the soundtrack to Batman Returns. Thankfully, this song, as Tom Hawker observes, would prove useful as tinkly background music for The Weather Channel:

“Winged Mammal Theme”     REM     1992

Before we completely leave behind the topic of bats (as I’m running out of material), it is amusing to note that – as mentioned in this previous Zero to 180 piece about Mayf Nutter – Frank Zappa once wrote (and arranged & conducted) “Boy Wonder I Love You,” a 45 by Burt Ward, who played Robin on TV’s Batman series:

“Boy Wonder I Love You”     Burt Ward     1967

Finally, “Release the Bats” by Nick Cave’s Birthday Party – I feel strangely compelled to confess – once caused a heated argument between myself and Tom Newbold, a close friend who, sadly, is no longer with us.  Tom once played “Release the Bats” at considerable volume in close quarters, at which I took great offense.  At the time, I accused Tom of “musical assault,” while he insisted that he was simply motivated by great art that required sufficient amplification to be fully appreciated.

REM 45The dear, departed “Newbs,” in fact, directly stoked my fascination with music history as a result of my having failed colossally to help Tom settle a musical debate that should have been a slam dunk.  The issue of contention:  rock and roll’s place of origin, geographically speaking.  “Uh, England?” this hopeless Beatlemaniac meekly offered from the back seat.