June 29, 2007
“Ba da la da da da da da, hi hi hi. Ba da la da da da da da, hi hi.”
“Endgame” has no real lyrics, but it is anything but an instrumental. Michael Stipe’s gentle, mellow vocal refrain is the crux of the song, and it twists around Peter Buck’s winding acoustic guitar figure, dropping out only to be replaced by woodwind instruments that carry the same tune. It’s a quiet, minor piece, but its arrangement is one of the band’s most elegant and refined. Every moment of the composition is calculated to maximize its pensive beauty, from the swell of the strings to the gentle ahhhs of Mike Mills’ backing vocals. The song’s melodies and textures vividly convey a sense of comfortable melancholy with incredible grace, and in all likelihood, words would have only gotten in the way.