In the 1964 Pink Panther film, A Shot in the Dark, there’s a scene in which Inspector Clouseau opens up a car door and immediately falls into a fountain.

“You should get out of these clothes immediately,” says the heroine.  “You'll catch your death of pneumonia, you will.”

“Yes, I probably will,” Clouseau replies.  “But it's all part of life's rich pageant, you know?”

The film was a favorite of the members of R. E. M.  And that particular line became a favorite catchphrase as they were working on their newest album in Indiana.  Whenever something would go awry, they would merely deliver those words by way of explanation.  And the phrase came up so often, it seemed natural to use it to name the new record:  Lifes Rich Pageant.