4 thoughts on “RIP REM

  1. Shame about that.

    Regarding the song in the video clip – I’m guessing that was supposed to be an example of REM getting “sort of metaphysical” – most people assumed the lyrics were about, well, religion – some kind of spiritual dark night (deep, dude!). In fact, to “lose one’s religion”, in the Southern US idiom, just means to grow exasperated or angry (religion being associated with patience and temperance, I guess).

  2. Nemo, Thanks for the very interesting point, which I did not know about. Still, I’m not sure that it makes much difference to what I was trying to say. First, I’m never sure about what determines the meaning of a work of art, even minor ones where we might be reluctant to invest a lot of time working on it. Still, I don’t think the artist’s statement is completely decisive; language in my view is too independent of individuals. And while “losing my religion” may be severed from its orginal basis (like losing faith in God) in Georgia, where they started, it nonetheless wears that basis very clearly.

    I think what I meant by “metaphysical (sort of)” was that there’s some further dimension that the lyrics and images aim at. So one factor is the metaphor chosen.

    Second, I think the video, which I actually dislike, adds in to the dimensionality of the work. One comment on the video:

    The video is based in part on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. The novel tells the story about an angel who falls down from heaven and how the people who make money displaying him as a “freak show.” Michael Stipe is a big Marquez fan and the whole idea of obsession and unrequited love is the central theme of the author’s masterpiece, Love in the Time of Cholera. The first line of the novel: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.” (thanks, Gabriela – Santiago, Chile)

  3. Anne, I agree, and I don’t think what I said detracts from your point at all – I just thought it was interesting.

    One of the characteristics of art (good art, at least) is that there’s generally more there than what the artist consciously brought to it. I think that’s one reason (among others) why artists tend not to be very good expositors of their own work.

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