June 16, 2008
A lot of the time, when we think back on traumatic events, our memory holds on to the odd, seemingly trivial fragments. “Country Feedback” is partially comprised of these sort of random, evocative images; some of them come across like flashes of painful memories, the rest are the bits of scenery you may get a fix on when you can’t bear to look someone in the eye. On the printed page, they seem like non-sequiturs, but in song, they resonate, and not simply because they are stunning bits of language. (I’m particularly fond of “a paper weight, a junk garage, a winter rain, a honey pot.”) We can intuit the personal meaning, and project what we need on to these bits to make the song our own.
The remainder of the song’s lyrics are disarmingly straight-forward. Out Of Time is an album of love songs, and “Country Feedback” is love’s bitter end. Blame is passed back and forth, guilt and confusion do the singer’s head in, and he’s left battered and broken, simultaneously lamenting a million mistakes and clinging to the past. He says that he needs the relationship, but it’s plain as day: What he wants and what he needs has been confused.
The arrangement for “Country Feedback” is more or less exactly what the title suggests: It’s a country dirge paired with a mournful electric guitar part by Peter Buck that recalls Neil Young at his most despondent. In live performance, Buck’s solo at the conclusion is extended significantly, drawing out the pain until it fades into resignation. Otherwise, the music is rather static, leaving Michael Stipe to provide the key dynamic shifts.
A goofy note:
Matthew Perpetua: I’m doing a big one today — “Country Feedback”
Matthew Perpetua: Or wait…
is it “Country Feedbag”?
marathonpacks: I think it’s “Country Feedbag”
Matthew Perpetua: I am pretty sure that Michael Stipe wrote it about the closing of a beloved all-you-can-eat country buffet
“it’s crazy what you could’ve had — ribs, chicken, greens!”