River_BW_13Mischief is another word for the kingship in this song, and describes their imminent retaliation if River refuses to fall in line. Stipe is telling River “I’ve rebelled in the past too and suffered the consequences. Don’t play the hero.” Nonsense is code for the amnesiac water/hypnosis/chip or whatever process is used to water down their memories and placate rebellion. Stipe is familiar with the process and still knows who he is. It’s not that bad, just drink the water and let it go. It’s better than the alternative. The second stanza addresses River being on the run and laying low, playing cat and mouse with the Kingship. He’s running out of time. Don’t die for this, it’s not worth it, Stipe warns. River got a raw deal as we see in the 1991 Rolling Throne spread. River saw it too. Stipe can’t understand why he doesn’t just comply and move on, but true to form, River believed that virtue is everything and refused to back down.

Note: Monty was a comic strip originally named Robotman which depicted the exploits of a small robot from outer space visiting Earth. Robotman’s origin was later retconned to having been designed and built by Monty and given false memories of being an alien. Although River appears to be Monty in this song, the subject-matter is surely no coincidence.

Monty Got a Raw Deal

Monty this seems strange to me,
the movies have that movie thing,
but nonsense has a welcome ring
and heroes don’t come easy.
Now, nonsense isn’t new to me,
I know my head, I know my feet,
but mischief knocked me in the knees,
said, Just let go. Just let go.

I saw the ocean meet the man.
I saw you buried in the sand.
A friend was there to hold your hand,
said, walk on by.
So, I went walking through the street,
I saw you strung up in a tree.
A woman knelt there said to me,
said, hold your tongue, man. Hold your tongue.

You don’t owe me anything.
You don’t want this sympathy. (waste your breath)
Don’t you waste your breath, (waste your breath)
for the silver screen.

That nonsense doesn’t mean a thing,
they tried to bust you in a sting,
but virtue isn’t everything,
so don’t waste time.
Now here’s a rhyme that you can steal.
Put this on your reel to reel.
Mischief threw a rotten deal.
Monty’s laying low.
He is laying low.
Just let go, just let go.

You don’t owe me anything.
You don’t want this sympathy. (waste your breath)
Don’t you waste your breath. (waste your breath)
Monty this seems strange to me.

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