|The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite|
The song was released on the band's 1992 album Automatic for the People and was later released as a single in 1993, reaching #17 in the UK singles chart. The song was placed on R.E.M.'s Warner Brothers "best of" album In Time - The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 in 2003, although Peter Buck's personal sleeve notes on the song were not complimentary. It was one of four songs from Automatic for the People to make the compilation, more than from any other album.
The song's complete title is not featured in the lyrics, but there is the line, "the sidewinder sleeps in a coil" as well as the later line "the sidewinder sleeps on its back". The lyrics are famously easy to mishear. A 2010 survey found that the chorus line "Call me when you try to wake her" was the most misheard lyric in Britain, beating Purple Haze into second place. The most common mishearing of the chorus line is "Calling Jamaica". What is perceived to be an audible laugh by Michael Stipe can be heard at 2:33 of the track on the "Best Of" and "Automatic for the People" CD's.
The sidewinder refers to the payphone because it has a cord that resembles a snake. "The sidewinder sleeps in a coil" means that he is not answering the phone, and "The sidewinder sleeps on its back" means that he has taken the phone off the hook.