July 17, 2007
The most important part of the chorus of “Strange Currencies” is not that Michael Stipe is singing a line as painfully straightforward as “you will be mine,” but rather that he’s openly acknowledging that what he’s uttering are in fact words. I don’t want to say “just words,” although that’s the implication at least of half of the time; that there’s a rather large gulf between what he says and what he does or what he feels or how reality interferes with his desires. On the other hand, there’s a sense that words are magical things that have the power to give shape to our psyches and our lives.
Michael’s character is doing his best to nudge his fantasy into reality, and his best plan is to focus on his desire, to repeat it over and over like an incantation. It’s a last ditch effort, and he’s feeling vulnerable and desperate, but not quite defeated. Maybe he should quit, maybe the object of his affection is way out of his league and there’s just no chance of it ever working out, but he’s still hanging on to that one last shred of hope. The sentiment of the song is both beautiful and absolutely pathetic, and as such, it’s the ideal midpoint for the Monster album.