February 14, 2008
Michael Stipe’s love songs tend to be either self-absorbed or self-effacing, but “Be Mine” manages to be both simultaneously, which may speak to exactly why it’s so effective in hinting at the neuroses that come along with most any expression of unconditional love and devotion. The song is full of sweet, slightly odd hyperbole, but every moment is vulnerable and sincere, the words of a man who will do anything to hold on to this person that he loves. He feels humbled by their beauty, but even though he promises to admire them and give them space, he seems mostly focused on the insight and adventure he stands to gain from his lover’s company. This is not unreasonable — if anything, this is a totally honest way of depicting this sort of romantic love, because when you’re caught up in it, all you can think about is the magic, and hope that what you’re feeling is only the beginning of something that will last forever. Though “Be Mine” works well as a simple, straightforward love song, it is perhaps better understood as a character study of a man who is totally over his head in love, to the point that it pains him to imagine himself separate from the object of his affection. It’s not really about the person so much as it’s about the thrill of hope, and the fear that it could all fall away at any moment.