Ask Michael Stipe: Finale!

September 28, 2008

Here we go: The final batch of questions and answers from Michael Stipe. It all starts off with my own question to Michael. 


Hi Michael,

Thanks again for answering all of these questions. It’s been very
entertaining and illuminating, and I’m endlessly grateful for offering
your time to do this.

It sort of blew my mind when I realized that you’d read the site, or
at least some of it. It had never dawned on me at any point in writing
the site that anyone in the band would *want* to read it, so it kinda
freaked me out, but in a good way. You had mentioned that you didn’t
always agree with my takes on the songs, which is pretty
understandable given that I was pretty harsh with a few of the later
songs, and you know, obvious differences in frame of reference. My
question is this: Aside from a few times when I just outright disliked
a song (like, say, “Make It All OK” or “I’ll Take The Rain,”), where
did you feel I was furthest off the mark in terms of analyzing the
work?

fine to dislike or even hate songs by artists you admire or follow.  That’s cool, it means you really care about the work.  The critique below is raw, unedited, flat out.  I don’t really expect you to print it, I wouldn’t.  But it feels right to say it, since you asked.  Honestly, don’t print this unless you really feel compelled to, its pretty harsh back[at first only.]…  No one but you me and ethan have read it, and frankly I don’t think it needs to go further 

so bad news then good. 

you became a music critic.  You routed out a few off the mark [I think ] plotlines and theories about how I write and think, and then could only see every single song and lyric and character arch through those constraints.  You confused and injected me[real Michael] into the work.  That’s the biggest mistake, I’m actually a better writer than all that.  I do tend towards becoming ‘advise guy’ in real life, which I hate, and sometimes that taints the songs or lyric.  But not to the degree that my own character or shortcomings define every note or lyric of up, reveal, ats.  You didn’t get lazy, you just bought into your own take on it all, instead of staying open.  

ok that’s the brutal and unedited slapback.  Heres the toughie: I could easily point the same charge at myself; I think that’s what’s most upsetting about reading it [the advise guy into character arcs that is; along with my own critiques and regrets about those records, my own cornball tendencies, etc; but whats done is done. ]  Thanks all the same Matthew, I think obviously, and mostly brilliantly, you really care.  Which is what matters the most.  You’ve clearly put a lot of thought and listening into this body of work and that’s an incredible charge for me, and you have been right more than most people ever even tried; the experiment of popsongs has been I think a smash success and fun to follow[ your take on The Apologist blew my head, for instance.  And Low Desert and Undertow[so.black idiomatic phrasing] are both moment of death songs.  That changes the religious part significantly.  Anyway]  For all that you’ve done here, I’m deeply honored.   _Michael


Okay, this is fairly random but here it is: If you were listening to the radio and an R.E.M. song came on, would you listen to it or change the radio station? Thanks for answering so many of everyone else’s great questions, even if you don’t get to my pointless one. 

really depends on the song, and the situation.  If I was in the car by myself I would probably try to listen objectively, like I didn’t write it; if im in a restaurant its always a little weird.  In stores its ok usually because I can keep moving


Being my favorite lyric from an album that’s full of great ones, I would like you to share with us what was your inspiration for The Worst Joke Ever, and if the year of 1954 relates to any particular event (McCarthyism, perhaps?).

inspiration for The Worst Joke Ever was memories of the cat burglar, like the beatnik, the urban fag, the temptress, the bosomy nurse or secretary…those 1960’s cartoons like Richard Prince does paintings of.  In the song the guy is of course looking back at his own life and the opinions and mindset that he couldn’t let go of or grow out of[the worst joke ever].  That’s the 50’s reference.  And of course the joke itself in the first verse is not funny or clever at all    


All The Way To Reno:  Reading a David Sedaris piece a few years ago, I
was struck by how much it reminded me of All The Way To Reno.  Katrina
washed away my copy of it, but I think it was in his _Barrel Fever_.
It was a fanciful/ridiculous Oscar acceptance speech in which the
narrator related his trip west to seek stardom.  As I recall, he hummed
on his bus ride, and several phrases phrases he used suggested the song.
Did a Sedaris piece inspire the song or is this just a coincidence?

coincidence, but a good one.  I love Sedaris’ work, and I used to eat his sisters cupcakes at my local takeaway in NYC.  She always put a little plastic toy on top like a clown head


Dear Michael,

one of my favorite REM-songs is HOPE, because I really love the background sound, as well as the energy it transports
and the  rate.
The lyrics are great, I especially love the line ” and you want to cross your DNA with something reptile”, so what is the song about
and  what was the idea about this special line?
Thanks a lot for answering

felt very futuristic/21st c. to me that someday we will use prehistoric ‘living fossil’ animal dna to bolster our own immunity; the guy in the song is facing some very difficult questions about longevity and survival, and basically grabbing at any possibility to stay alive.  I obviously lifted most of the song from Leonard Cohen, along with the imagery ideas from World Leader Pretend 


Hi Michael,
 
You’ve stated before that at one point when it came to touring and performing onstage that you tried to adapt a different persona or character for each tour. I’m just wondering have you ever taken this approach when sitting down to write lyrics for a particular album – Have you ever intentionally set out with a particular character (or persona in mind) as a focal point for an album, or do you start writing and then see what develops from that point onwards?

I always just start writing and see what develops.  I think the ‘different persona for performing or touring’ was either taken out of context or misunderstood/translated; I don’t recall ever thinking or saying that…

 


I  bought Accelerate when it came out and I like it very much! Although I also like around the sun, especially “electron blue” very much. My favorite songs from the recent ones are at the moment “sing for the submarine” and “on the fly” The take away show versions I could watch and listen over and over again. So I would like to know what is “on the fly” about and Why didn’t you put it on the record?

I love Electron Blue also, its one of my all time faves, up there with Country Feedback and Ebow.  On The Fly, Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance and Kick the Traces are all songs we worked on and really like but they just didn’t fit our idea of what ACCELERATE should be.   They will come out someday I’m sure


First off thank you from the fans for doing this. Of the instrumental only songs REM have done, have you ever written lyrics for a song originally intended as instrumental or even after the song is on the record? 

yes New Orleans Instrumental no.1 had a lyric…I don’t recall whether before or after it was recorded but it didn’t really work… 

Where did the ideas and events from the lyrics for Star 69 come from? I mean I get the caller ID bit, but seems like there is a first person point of view going on there, I’m assuming it’s not yours. Correct me if I’m wrong.

its all made up and I have no idea where it came from;  I just made it all up.  Squirrelys I probably lifted from Vic Chesnutt 


Two Find the River questions.
 
1) The line “I have got to Find the River”, what happens if the person doesn’t?
 
2) Does the line “The ocean is the river’s goal”, not contradict the song? If the song is about enjoying life’s journey, the person must find the river before thinking about the journey to the ocean.

the ‘fortune for the undertow’ is all we gather, memory and experience, on the journey…good point made.  I’m not sure the ocean indicates an end 


My second question is a bit random; why the Dr Seuss/Cat in the Hat references in ‘Sidewinder’ – are you a fan?

I love Dr. Seuss, always did, but it drives Mike crazy how I pronounce it…its how I grew up pronouncing it [wrong]


To Michael,
My name is I, I am 7years old and I am from England and I love begin the begin It’s wicked.
“… tiger run around the tree
Follow the leader, run and turn into butter…”
Is It from my favrut book “The Story of Little Black Sambo”?.

yes it is exactly from that book.  


 
2. How do You pick favourites from Your own songs? As a listener? The ones You enjoy the most to sing? Or probably the ones you’re most proud of as a lyricist?

favorites to perform, well, hopefully they’re easy and satisfying to sing [Man on the Moon, LMR, Supernatural Superserious]and I love the lyrics too…that’s a slam dunk as a performer.  Sometimes I like singing songs because I think they’re better live than recorded, and it feels like it breathes a different take into the song itself to perform it

Ignoreland this tour for instance is I think more powerful than the recorded version




Wendell Gee doesn’t get much attention. Matthew P. even referred to the song as an almost unnecessary ending for the Fables album and I understand Peter is no big fan. I love the song. (Personal memory from the 80′s: I played it on repeat one long drunken night while I sobbed my way through the end of a relationship. Most cathartic.) The tune is beautiful. The lyrics seem to be about a child in a situation he wants to escape. Mike’s harmony vocals are perfect even though I can’t make the exact lyrics. Question 1: What do you remember about writing the lyrics and the story within? Question 2: Can a song you hear become a personal favorite to you without even knowing the lyrics or the meaning to them?
 
I’ll answer in reverse.  My favorite song of the summer’08 is L.E.S. Artistes by Santogold.  If I had to accurately sing or describe one lyrical line of that song to save all of mankind, we would be fucked.  I’ve listened to it 60,000 times and I have no idea what its about or what the lyrics are.  I just know that it moves me and I love it.  Voila. 

Wendell Gee was a death dream where I was buried in a hollowed out log with this metal mesh kind of lizard skin over the top and I could hear and talk, but all of the alive people could not hear me.  Like a ghost.  I stole the name from the highway between Athens, Georgia and Jefferson, Georgia, where I would visit with R.A. Miller in the early 80’s.  It was one of the few really autobiographic but from dreamworld lyrics that I wrote; shortly after that I barely ever injected real life situations into the songs or lyrics, instead focusing on what I felt was my strong suit as a writer.  Weirdly, on a personal note, the song later played a huge role in the death of a friend of mine who’s mother was a Jungian scholar.  


Hi Michael

 

Thanks for doing this. It’s great.

I read that you have different characters that re-occur in your songs. I remember reading that The Lifting (I love this song) was a sequel to Daysleeper. Has this character emerged again since? Maybe the protagonist in Hollow Man?

no, but I expect she’ll come back at some point.  Her particular arc is a tough one

fyi: originally for the video to daysleeper I had insisted on casting a woman.  I was dissuaded and played the part myself

Also from my 6 yr old daughter. Is the set for the Imitation of Life video the same as the set on High School Musical 2??!!

oooh. I don’t know.  It is in L.A., and was probably one of those houses that gets rented out a lot to different projects…that would be superfun to investigate



The song Lotus…I have always wondered if it had anything to do with the Lotus eaters in the Greek Mythology or is it only my imagination that got carried away with this interpretation?
 
yes it does. 

Has this Q&A experience with us fans and reading our interpretations that are sometimes totally opposite of the meaning you had have with certain songs at their genesis added a new layer maybe to the songs for you Michael?….I don’t mean in a way that it has changed ur perception and interpretation of the songs, since obviously u aren’t at the receiver’s end like us and u would be the one who’d know the songs inside-out but what I am trying to find out is basically the following: this has been obviously a rather exquisite and invaluable experience for us….Would it have a similar effect on you, do u think u have gained something extra from this apart from the joy of talking to us lovely people:P?
 
I have enjoyed getting a few things off my chest, or setting a few things straight.  I’ve often said, and I still maintain, that my interpretation of the songs is the least important, that the power of music is how we each of us interpret it for ourselves; there are a few songs or lyrics that, even though I think I’m being incredibly open and obvious, are neither easy nor obvious; and it feels good to just say that was about Burroughs, or whatever  


1) Anywho, personal anecdotes aside, what I’m most curious about is the process of writing the lyrics to each album. Do you attack the music with a conceptual idea of what you’d like the lyrics to roughly (and as a whole) be about? Do you for instance, “decide” that album X needs to feel more lush and private, and album Y needs to get its teeth into some more abstract political situations (sorry for the weird phrasing of that) – or is it perhaps more a case of you afterwards realizing that overall themes came out of all the thoughts and reflections you had in you at the time of recording an album?
 
I usually figure it out after about the 5th song is written.  Only then do I maybe try for something thematic, like easy example, REVEAL equals druggy hypnotised summer


first, I wonder about the recurring theme through your lyrics of “I am not afraid.” I would imagine that the word “afraid” might appear in more REM songs than any other. is that something you’re conscious of — a message, an empowering goal you’re interested in? at the same time, is it something you ever try to stay away from, as in, “I can’t use the word afraid in this song again!” 

I have to mantra in my real life, ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’.  Life is scary.  I just think that pops up a lot thematically in my lyrics because, even though it’s a low emotion, I think about it a lot



  1. I have noticed that at least on three occasions (“Swan Swan H”, “Parakeet” and “Lotus”) you kind of bring discredit on cats! They are described as mean, unpleasant creatures and in general I think you present them as something evil. I still haven’t decided though if I’m supposed to love or hate “Star Me Kitten”. You must prefer dogs than cats, don’t you?


I prefer dogs in my real life it’s true.  I’ve never thought about my subconscious as cat hating.  I just think they’re mischievous.


Dear Michael,
We’ve just had our wedding last weekend. I want to let you know that the opening dance was on At My Most Beautiful on our wedding. Thanks for “singing” it for us.
My q-n is: what was the most special occasion for which an r.e.m. song was used/played?

weddings births and funerals.  What a stunning first dance!  I’m always really flattered when I hear that, thank you



The two songs from the Dublin rehearsals left off of “Accelerate,” “On the Fly” and “Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance,” are both exceptional songs, especially “On the Fly.” Do you plan on releasing these in the future? Also, more importantly, did the heartache of “On the Fly” come from any personal experience or was it just the experience of a character you created? And, as you mentioned when you played “Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance” in Philadelphia, the song explores something people will experience if they are very lucky. So, does this mean the song references personal awakening or just deep focus on a goal one wants to achieve.

On The Fly:  invented.  Like a great Jem Cohen movie but starring Marilyn Monroe and Monty Clift and, I don’t know, Karl Malden
Staring Down…: by that I meant I hope you reach the age where you’re looking back on your youth from a long way gone.  I hope you live a long life that’s what that meant


Dear Micheal
 
Parakeet has always been one of my favourite REM songs (and I have many that I love).
I have always felt that the lyric refers to a concious entity probably a person who is represented by the Parakeet. The parakeet is in bad shape but is rescued by Buddhas. Is this a very spiritual message you are conveying here? Do the ‘sunspot flares of the early ’90s’ refer to aprticular time of your life?
 
Thanks for everything
Owen

she saved herself, it’s a parable about domestic abuse and liberation, and the Buddhas are just painting a new life background[and someone told me that koala bears are high their entire lives, I don’t even know if it’s true, because supposedly eucalyptus leaves are hallucinogenic; so they’re just plopped right onto the highest buddha ladder rung and yawn their way right through].  The sunspot flares actually happened and apparently severely interrupted radio transmission, do a search on it


Swan Swan H pretty miraculously spins lyrics in swirls and whirlpools, and any central meaning seems nicely elusive. Could you discuss your views/ intentions/ interpretations of the track? Sometimes I think of redemption/ Christianity; other days its the US South/ slavery/ repression; other days its loneliness.
“What’s the price of heroes?” is a line I’ve always enjoyed getting lost in. How does the Swan fit in?

Many many thanks
Gary

civil war song.  That’s all I know of writing it, I remember the inspiration but it just flowed.  What noisy cats are we I lifted from an actual civil war written piece

and Mike and I agreed finally; the title is now Swan Swan Hummingbird.  My pretentious 20’s are long gone and we can now all breath a sigh of relief.  kindof


Michael, do you find it more fun to write sexy vamp tunes?  Specifically I mean a few of the tracks from the mid-90s, such as “Crush With Eyeliner”, “The Wake-Up Bomb” or the more subdued temps of “Tongue” or “Star Me Kitten”.. These are some of my favorite songs lyrically and for some reason it seems like you are having the most fun singing them.  But that could just be my nostalgia talking.. HELP

they are fun, and I love every song you mentioned above.  They’re cartoonish and wicked and silly and camp I suppose.  I mean I feel like Strange Currencies is a real stretch for me, I was just trying to be Michael Hutchence and be intense and in love in the lyric and delivery


Hi Michael,
             Can I just ask how you feel about Up now? I realize it was a difficult time back then, but I personally feel out of it came your lyrical master-piece, would you agree? As far as I am concerned it is a master-piece full stop and Why not smile is the most beautiful song ever recorded. 
Thanks for your time.

thank you very much.  I decided years ago to never publicly diss a song that we wrote and put out there because maybe there’s a you out there who thinks it is the greatest song ever [for the record, I like Why Not Smile but as an example]; and so.  I think UP is about 3 songs too long as an album; I think most of the songs are too slow; and I wish someone brilliant would scour the stuff and re-record or remix some of this-era-of-our-output, and make it their own thing.  I do think there’s some great stuff there; maybe it needs distance, a different voice or take, a different arrangement.  Then it could breath differently  


While you’ve mentioned here that some early songs were, the words of a questioner, “lesser” and thus left off albums, the band has revisited very early tracks like “All the Right Friends” and “Permanent Vacation.” I’ve always hoped for a quickly banged out album of all these early songs — “Narrator,” “Lisa Says,” “Baby I,” “Sheherazade,” etc. — perhaps available through the fan club. Any merit in such an idea? Are those early tunes at least fun to play even if they don’t perhaps carry the same heft as your later, more thought-out songs?

Thanks,
John

I didn’t even write the lyrics to most of those you mentioned above.  And no, we cherry picked the pretty great ones and recorded them[at some point Hole was going to cover All The Right Friends]; that’s that.  As far as ‘basement tapes’ type early work compilation goes, I just don’t think theres much there personally



Michael, please do forgive me as I’m a Brit with a limited understanding of US politics but are the lyrics “so hold tight your babies and your guns forgive us our trespasses, father and son” from “Until the day is done” on Accelerate a dig at the Presidents Bush, Senr and Jr?  Like you I so want Obama to win in November – yes saw you in Twickenham – fab gig!  Also just want to say how much I love “At My Most Beautiful”… especially “I save your messages, Just to hear your voice” – that’s absolutely spot on about being in love….  
 
Best wishes, Tracy  

I felt like that lyric addresses the often conservative American pro-death penalty/anti-abortion stance, and oddly describes our countrys odd reality right now; and yes, I think there’s a degree of confusion between father and holy father there.  sad



Michael,
 
Are there any songs you wish you could go back and re-record in the studio after performing them live?

most of them, yes.  Like 95% of them.  So it goes  

Hey that’s it for now; thank you to everyone for all the questions and especially thanks to Ethan Kaplan and especially especially to Matthew Perpetua for his incredible, ambitious, and I think brilliant site.  Thank you Matthew.  All the best  from Michael Stipe

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46 Responses to “Ask Michael Stipe: Finale!”

  1. Brian Says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing the note from JMS. I didn’t think his critique was as brutal as he made it sound like – and as a critic that’s bound to happen too. Like he said, I think you were harsh on certain songs because you care – you weren’t trying to be a jerk or to slam part of the “cannon” to be controversial (you wouldn’t have devoted a site like this to a band you didn’t like, much less finish what you started).

    Thanks again for bringing us all through this process – through your quest for completion, your thought process for over a year, and even through your interaction with Stipe himself.

    And if Michael reads through the comments – thanks for a lifetime of great music, and for more music in the future (especially if you hold your promise to release some of those Dublin songs). That, and come back to the states soon.

  2. protimoi Says:

    Wow. This has been quite an experience, getting feedback from JMS himself.

    Such a cryptic answer to the question about the real early songs: “I didn’t even write the lyrics.” Does he mean he was a different person back then, or did Peter/Mike/Bill take over lyric duties at the point?

    I fear I will never understand “The Apologist” as you see it, Matthew, but many other songs have really been put in a new context from yourself and Mr. Stipe.

    Can’t wait to read about their recent excursions in loudness and brevity ; )

  3. 2fs Says:

    In my day job I teach college students, and in my syllabus I usually include a line about disagreeing with others’ ideas: that to do so is not disrespectful but a sign of respect – because you’re taking the ideas, and the person who’s putting them out there, seriously enough to engage with them. Thus I take Stipe’s comment, in its bluntness, as an incredible compliment to you as a critic. (Which is pretty much where he ends up with it, too.)

    I also think it says something quite positive about Stipe, not only that he’d take the time to engage with fans and critics via this site but that he was willing to allow you to post his blunt opinions publicly: I’m sure some people are going to read his comments and think, wow, he’s really a dick. Needless to say, I don’t think the comments mean that at all.

  4. Kirsten Says:

    Thanks for your time Michael, you’re answers have been most enlightening! Oh, and don’t change – song titles like Swan Swan H and Wolves, Lower are a very important part of the REM mystique.

    I also had At My Most Beautiful played at my wedding ceremony – during the signing of the Marriage Certificate. It was important to me that REM were there and a part of my day.

  5. Bruno Says:

    It’s been fun!
    Congratulations and thank you to Matthew.
    Wow, what now. I miss you all already.


  6. As I was telling Ethan, when I first read Michael’s comment and was getting to the part where he was warning me off a bit, I braced myself a bit, but then it was like, “oh, that’s totally fair.” It wasn’t harsh at all! I mean, one of the things I was dealing with here was the fact that I’m dealing with this body of work where it is often hard to tell autobiography from fiction, I imagine even if you know the writer well. So you’re working from your instinct, who you think he is, what things mean to you, what seems obvious, what bits connect and what just flies right under your radar. Being in the audience means that no matter what, there’s going to be a disconnect with how you understand the art, and what the artist thinks and intends. I think I touched on that a few times, but it’s probably a good place to end the site for now — that reminder that on both sides, the songs mean different things, and that’s not a bad thing.

  7. gluefoot Says:

    another set of really insightful questions and responses to end with..
    it’s been fascinating reading..
    it’s terrific that michael has acknowledged the work put into this project by matthew and the undoubted passion and love of the music which fuelled it..

  8. Wezzo Says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity, Michael and Matthew!

  9. Eysteinn Says:

    I was reading Michael´s note at the top and thinking: “WTF! He is going to shit all over him!”

    Then I kept reading, and not really seeing anything harsh I thought that you must simply have “cut” out the “pretty harsh” comments, not to be suitable for “the people”.

    This has been fun to read. You must feel very honoured.
    Thanks.

    P.s.Hope you give us your take on Accelerate and future records sometime.

  10. Dark Bob Says:

    Never in my wildest dreams, when I first started reading and commenting on PopSongs, that it would end with Michael Stipe personally answering two of my questions. It doesn’t get any better than that for an REM geek like me. Again Matthew, a 1,000,000 thank yous.
    I’ll talk to you down the road when you decide to cover Accelerate. Thanks again to Michael Stipe.

  11. milesy Says:

    This has been great fun. Again, many thanks go to Michael, and particularly to Matthew, and indeed to everyone else. I guess now this really is the end of the blog as we know it.

    I’m not scared.
    I’m outta here.

  12. maclure Says:

    Man, that really is the finale we were wanted. I was saying this to someone else who knows about this site – but these JMS questions at the end, and especially todays post, give popsongs a kind of authenticity that mean that anyone who wants to take REM seriously and their lyrics will have to come by this site as part of their research. Its kind of a monument, or perhaps an essential “document”. I had absolutely no idea the band would actually pay attention to a blog like this – much less form critical responses but then why not?

    So, thanks to MP, to JMS and to you many fellow commenters who I feel I know a bit although I probably don`t know too well as the comments on an REM site (even a very good one) doesnt give the full picture of a person…

    What am I supposed to do with my online time now until I wait for Accelerate?

  13. Mary Alice Says:

    this was so great to read. What a treat for fans. How sweet was Michael throughout? Just when you thought this blog couldn’t get any better :D

    Thank you Matthew for all the hard work, it is appreciated and I enjoyed it.

    And if Michael is reading this, I love that you value fans interpretations and that you took the time to share with us what your songs mean to you. I love your music but after this I appreciate it even more. We R.E.M. fans were lucky before, even luckier now :D

  14. pggtips Says:

    Matthew,

    Your blog has been an absolute privilege to read over the past year. Michael’s comments are fantastic and a wonderful closure to this section of the blog.

    How long will the site remain online for? It’s been so great to listen to albums and then browse the comments to the individual songs. I’d like to thank everyone whose comments have made visiting this site such a wonderful experience.


  15. The site isn’t going anywhere. I may eventually move it to a more permanent archive, but for the foreseeable future, it’ll be right here. You can keep commenting, nothing is shutting down.

  16. pggtips Says:

    Ta Matthew, thanks for the reply. :D

  17. Melonie Says:

    Even though my questions didn’t get answered, the depth of sincerity and passion that everyone shared in their appreciation for the songs and lyrics was moving and insightful. Thank you, Matthew and Michael, for all of your willingness to allow us to participate in this grand experiment. Stay beautiful.

    And since you’re going to let us keep commenting, I’m going to back to hanging out with the cool kids down by the swings. Peace.

  18. Theresa Says:

    This really is the prefect conclusion to a great project. Thanks, Matthew, for putting all this time into this site, and thanks to Michael for creating such beautiful and inspirational music for all of us. [And thanks for answering my question :) ]


  19. [...] Ask Michael Stipe: Finale! Here we go: The final batch of questions and answers from Michael Stipe. It all starts off with my own question to [...] [...]

  20. Kirsten Says:

    I was part of the unfortunate many who didn’t get their question answered. :-( Do you know if Michael read it? It would mean the world to me to know that he did. (Especially since I asked him about bringing the Accelerate Tour down under – just wanted to plant the idea in his head!)

  21. mike huff Says:

    Thanks as always

  22. Mr Cup Says:

    the world seems a whole lot smaller

  23. Kirsten Says:

    And like Kohoutek, he was gone.

  24. Paul Alferink Says:

    Props to the 7 Year Old who asked a question.


  25. [...] Ask Michael Stipe: Finale! Here we go: The final batch of questions and answers from Michael Stipe. It all starts off with my own question to [...] [...]

  26. Figgy Says:

    Kinda looked like someone pretending to be 7 years old though. (But please forgive me if I’ve called that wrong!). :-)
    Good on ya, Kirsten, for encouraging Stipe and the boys to make the trip to Oz and NZ. I feel confident something to that effect will be announced on the REMHQ site very soon – Bertis kinda hinted last week in one of his articles that there would be more touring in the new year.

  27. Kirsten Says:

    Now if they do you can thank and worship me, ’cause I’m gonna take all of the credit for it! :-) And for the record, I didn’t “encourage” I BEGGED!!!! Shameless but necessary.

  28. Kat Says:

    Cheers from my end of the world too for Matthew and Michael for all they have done to help a mere mortal like me to get my lil´ old head around the REM albums and partiular songs.
    If the songs always were important to me, i´m not sure anymore how to describe some of them. Seems we were meant to be together, REM & me. Without the songs somethings would be brutal and some nonexcistent. They help one celebrate but “break the fall” too like, say, congrete… ;)
    I sometimes wonder if Michael can ever really understand what his songs mean to me and i´m sure for some other peeps around here too… Many thanks to both guys – yet again! x

  29. miki Says:

    I’d like to add my own thanks to Matthew for all his work on this site and to Michael who was so generous to surprise us fans with such a treat! It feels great to finally be able to take his own words to navigate through his song lyrics, and to finally know how many of them were orginally born and written!
    Thank you so much again!! R.E.M. fans are indeed so lucky! And also many thanks to all those who contributed to make it possible, including those who asked the questions that Michael chose to answer! :)

    Miki

  30. Moza Says:

    That was great. I’m not sure too many other artists of Michael’s stature would co-operate like this. Shame it’s all over, but at least I will get through more work now. Thanks to M&M.

  31. jw Says:

    Inspired, awestruck, and very happy. Readying up the big chair for a listen to the entire REM catalog. Thank you Mr. Michael Stipe for keeping my REM visions alive.

  32. Ethan kaplan Says:

    “I sometimes wonder if Michael can ever really understand what his songs mean to me and i´m sure for some other peeps around here too… Many thanks to both guys – yet again! x”

    I think the fact that he did this (which took a lot of work, trust me) is evidence that he does understand, very well :)

  33. Clare Says:

    Thanks Matthew for what has been a fantastic & fascinating blog; insightful, amusing, poignant & what an earth shattering finale having Mr Stipe jump on board like that. I did actually think I was hallucinating when I saw the announcement for the 1st time.
    I’m mad at myself (perfectionist that I am) for not coming up with a question good enough to put to the great man but thankful to all those who managed to articulate some of what was in my smog of a brain!!
    I will miss stopping by this site & feeling the love with fellow REMers!! XXX

  34. Stefan Says:

    I just want to say thank You R.E.M for the very special, nice evening in Dresden this summer . It was one of my holiday higlights. Thank You for “country feedback”, one of my favourite R.E.M- songs. I was very happy about the idea getting a free museum -ticket with the concert-card. I enjoyed “neues grüne gewölbe”.

    Thank You

    Stefan

  35. Clare Says:

    P.S.
    Kirsten I really hope you get the news you want soon, it’s just wrong that someone/everyone so devoted doesn’t get to see this album done live xx

  36. Kat Says:

    Ethan, you have a valid point there…! ;)
    You too deserve a big thanks and as there is no time like present, here it is: Ta so much!! x

  37. Jared W Says:

    Thanks to all involved. I plan to revisit this site frequently.

    I also wanted to especially thank this little community for making me realize that I wasn’t the only REM nut out there.

  38. Ignis Sol Says:

    Our little group has always been
    And always will until the end

    Why create a clever farewell when it is already written, well written?

    PEACE!

  39. ScottMalobisky Says:

    see I told you Reveal was about drugs :)
    Thanx Guys–I’m done !
    See you all on The Other Side…….

  40. Tim Says:

    Thanks Matthew!
    Thanks Michael!

  41. beonetraveler Says:

    Have been on an extended absence from the site due to life and everything. What a delight to read these exchanges. A soul lifter for a rotten, rotten Monday, for sure. Many thanks.

  42. Henrietta Hanks Says:

    So great to hear the songs talked about in Michael’s own voice with his unique way with words. We’ve all been trained to use analytical thinking but it doesn’t work so well when discussing creative expression. The two ways of thinking are so different. Analytical thinking is designed to take things apart, creative opens it up. I reread what you wrote about The Apologist and yes, MP, you really painted a picture on that one! You said you were ready to end, I hope not. How I see it: you did your rough draft, got feedback from MS, now you’re ready to take your writing to the next level.

  43. Henrietta Hanks Says:

    I hope my last comment didn’t come across as critical of your work, MP. It sounds condescending and I didn’t mean to do that. I was just musing on how we are all trained to use analytical thinking and where it doesn’t work so well. Also how after getting the comments from Michael, what an opportunity to take your writing further. wow.. I bet it has rocked your world. Thanks for creating this. HH

  44. Jenny Says:

    Cheers Matthew and Michael.
    This has been a great idea and a very interesting blog. I have enjoyed getting an insight into the thoughts of such an amazing song writer.
    Jenny

  45. Dabiv Dagis Says:

    I wrote about “Accelerate” and my thoughts on why R.E.M. is the best currently-operating American rock band here – http://crusser.tumblr.com

  46. Elizabeth B. Says:

    Dear Michael,

    I just want to apologize to you for hero-worshiping you for a long time some years ago. It really wasn’t fair to you – I made you into an idol and used the ambiguity of R.E.M. lyrics as platform to try and understand life’s mysteries. I made you into what I wanted you to be: some kind of super human savior, whereas the reality of the situation is rather lackluster but nonetheless edifying and perhaps comforting for the two of us: you’re just another human being doing the best you can in a rather strange set of circumstances on the Earth.

    Thanks for the music, the lyrics, and this valuable lesson. Thanks also for putting up with me and others like myself all these years.

    xxxooo


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