Losing My Religion

“The song is a classic obsession song. It’s about someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.”Michael Stipe (797)
“The term ‘losing my religion’ is not actually the term. The term is ‘lost my religion’ and it’s an old Southern term that means that something has challenged your faith to such a degree that you might lose your religion. What the song is about has nothing to do with religion but it’s an unrequited love song. I loved the idea of writing a song about unrequited love, about holding back and reaching forward and then pulling back again and reaching forward again. The thing that really for me is the most thrilling is that you don’t ever really know if the person that I’m reaching out for is aware of me. If they even know that I exist, and so it’s this really tearful, heartfelt thing that found its way into one of the best pieces of music that the band ever gave me.”Michael Stipe (1315)

Gardening At Night

“There was an old guy in my neighbourhood who would be out gardening at 2am in his suit and tie. I’d see him when I was out trying to get a beer at the Magic Mart or somewhere. It’s basically a metaphor for the uselessness of everything.”Pete Buck (797)


“It’s about a mother and child, especially the strong bond that exists between them. The voice is neither hers nor the child’s, however. It’s someone else commenting on the sense that the bond between a mother and child is the most powerful love of all…I think it’s significant to state that it’s not a song about defenestration. I took great pains to clarify that in the vocal. There’s an event that’s occurred somewhere far away that has come to the attention of the woman who’s the protagonist of the song, and she realizes how significant that thing is to her child and herself, and she goes to the window to take a breath. I think that when I first wrote the song, it did seem like the woman hurled herself and her child out of the window, but that’s not what occurs.”Michael Stipe (797)


“‘Camera’ is about one of our girlfriends that died in a car wreck. You don’t know that. There’s no cars in it and it doesn’t have her name in it.”Pete Buck (797)

Oddfellows Local 151

“That song is actually about all these winos who used to live down the street from us. They used to live in cars. We call them the The Motor Club. These old guys would sleep in the cars and drink all the time. I think there was a guy called Pee Wee as well. Michael knew them because he used to live right next door to them. Every once in a while you’d give them five bucks or drop off a bottle.”Pete Buck (797)


“It’s about making decisions and actually living your life rather than letting it happen. It surprises me when I walk by a parking lot and I’ve been walking by that parking lot for eight years but, for the first time, I look at it and say, My God! There’s a parking lot! and I wonder why, for eight years, I’ve chosen not to look at it.”Michael Stipe (797)

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

“The words come from everywhere. I’m extremely aware of everything around me, whether I am in a sleeping state, awake, dream-state or just in day to day life. There’s a part in ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ that came from a dream where I was at Lester Bangs’ birthday party and I was the only person there whose initials weren’t L.B. So there was Lenny Bruce, Leonid Brezhnev, Leonard Bernstein…So that ended up in the song along with a lot of stuff I’d seen when I was flipping TV channels. It’s a collection of streams of consciousness.”Michael Stipe (797)

Perfect Circle

“Peter tells this story about how ‘Perfect Circle’ was inspired by a bunch of boys playing baseball. To me, it’s about my ex-girlfriend.”Michael Stipe (797)

Pop Song ’89

“It’s a complete piss-take. I guess it’s the prototype of, and hopefully the end of, a pop song. It would be the last pop song ever.”Michael Stipe (797)

Lightnin’ Hopkins

“Michael told me that it doesn’t really mean anything. That it’s utter bullshit.”Pete Buck (797)

Crush With Eyeliner

“Like, ‘Crush With Eyeliner’ is completely, to me, a paean to the New York Dolls, with reference to ‘Frankenstein’, which of course is one of their songs, and a lot of this album is referring back to Iggy and The Stooges and Patti Smith and Television, and stuff like that.”Michael Stipe (800)

Star Me Kitten

“‘Star Me Kitten’ was more a lust than a love song, but what can you say about love that hasn’t been said already? I’d much rather hear about people’s sexual proclivities in a subtle way. I’ve got no problem with lust!”Mike Mills (801)