You’re In The Air
August 1, 2007
The arrangement of “You’re In The Air” is constantly shifting focus, leaving the impression that its instrumental elements are lifting, sinking, or passing through each other as if they were intangible. The one point of consistent emphasis is Michael Stipe’s voice, which itself is quietly shifting between emotions without ever expressing a single, intense, uncomplicated feeling. Every thought and every emotion in the song is burdened with history and conflicted desires, and so even when he sounds as though he’s found some sort of clarity or control, his words seem punctuated by a row of question marks. Stipe’s words mainly draw on the automatic romance of the stars and the elements, but the most stunning moment in the song comes when he cuts straight to the heart of the matter, singing “you say you want me” like a question, a challenge, and a reminder to both himself and his lover.