This article is from the R.E.M. FAQ, by Ron Henry (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
From the book Remarks, The Story of R.E.M. by Tony Fletcher: "Mike Mills
too was improving [his songwriting]. He wrote a plea to ... a new girl in
Athens who had been making a big impact on all the boys, begging her not to
spend the summer of '80 in Maryland. 'Don't Go Back To Rockville', with its
memorable chorus and frantic pacing, became an instant live favorite." The
original version of "Rockville" had a harder rock sound; the band worked up
the country and western style as a joke for friend and band lawyer Bertis
Downs. This new version was so successful they recorded it that way.