Saturday, March 10, 2012

Consider this.

MIchael Stipe singing "Losing my religion."

"Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I've said too much

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no I've said too much
I haven't said enough"

~ from R.E.M.'s "Losing my religion"


Oh, how I love this song. So much. It's such a haunting song, you know? I love that the song writer has never really been clear on what it means. Like, is it really literal? Like has something literally made him lose faith? Or rather faith in his Faith? Or how about in someone? A regular someone? A deity? Or none of that at all?


Yes. I'm of Christian faith. But I still love this song. So much. Mostly because I think it has nothing really to do with organized faith. Or any of those things that the talking heads in the primaries are fighting over. Which interestingly aren't things that intensely matter to me, a person who also happens to be down with Jesus. And even if it is literally about organized religion, so what. It makes me think. And thinking is good. Even for people who are believers in assorted faiths.


I just think it's such a layered song. With such a bold title and hook. That mandolin, that pleading in the vocalist's voice. It punches me in my chest and makes me stop what I'm doing and think. And wonder what it means.

And you know? Every single time I hear this song, I think of a new meaning. That's what makes me love this song so much.

I love things that can have many interpretations. Don't you? Because I think life and people and everything are like that. Open to many interpretations. Changing interpretations, too. Remixes and revisions and redemption, too. Kind of like my take on this song every time I hear it.

Some days I can even relate this song to my writing here. Like, I say to myself after hitting publish: "Oh no, I said too much." Or even, "That's me on the corner. . . .that's me in the spotlight . . . .losing my religion. . ."

Then I will feel a pang of fear. Like I revealed my clay feet or zoomed right in on my Achilles heel for the whole world or rather, world-wide web, to see.

But like Michael Stipe who wrote those words, that hint of fear somehow bolsters my fearlessness. It makes me want to be transparent and to write things that make people think and feel and even come back to read again. For a new take. A new interpretation.

And to be a little more okay with their own clay feet.

Zachary heard this song playing on my computer and came over and sat on my lap. He sat there quietly listening and watching and seemed mesmerized by the mandolin and Stipe's voice. Then when it ended he looked over at me and said, "Can you play it again?"

And I did.

this morning in my kitchen

We sat together and watched that video all over again, too. And he watched the images and asked me questions like, "Do you think that man is an angel?"  And I said, "I don't know. Do you?" And he looked and said, "I think he is. Maybe he is trying to cheer the singing man up."  "Hmm. Do you think he seems sad?" I wanted to know. So he told me his thoughts. "He seems like he lost a friend. And like he feels sad about it." And I looked and watched some more and that little five year-old observation opened me up to yet another interpretation of this song.

Maybe he lost a friend. Or faith in one. Or himself. Or something.

I don't know. I just love this song. And what's cool is that now my five year-old child does, too.

The official video used to be un-embeddable. But hey! For some reason, it can now be embedded. So until someone blocks it, here it is. The original video to "Losing my religion" by R.E.M. that my friend Ms. Moon says is the reason videos were invented.

And I think she is right.

Do you love this song, too? What's your interpretation?

Or better yet.

What other song does this to you? Makes you think and wonder and try to interpret over and over again? Maybe I haven't ever heard it. But I'd love to. I really would.

That's all I've got for now. What you got?

Happy Saturday.


  1. I don't know but I swear, I could listen to it and watch the video all day long and into the night. It is THAT good as a song and as a production and the way Stipe moves in it, he gives of himself to the doubt he feels.
    I love that your son was taken by it.
    I love that you love it.
    It is a song that is NOT AFRAID, even as it discusses fear of loss.
    Maybe it is a pleading to a lover. Maybe to a god. I don't know. I don't think I need to know. I can fill up the parts of me that need to hear it with those notes, that voice.

  2. What Ms. Moon said.
    I love REM.

  3. Yeppers. I love the song. And I love that you asked us to comment about our interpretation.

    I don't have an organized religion but I have Faith.

    And to echo Ms. Moon's interpretation I think that Fear is the other side of Faith.

    Fear and Faith usually waltz around very well together but occasionally they enter a tug of war.

    In my opinion, neither wins. Both fall down exhausted.

    They sleep.

    And the dance begins again.

  4. I adore this song, and I think that, like all truly great songs and music, it gets something that is nearly ineffable. It's got the hook, the haunting sound of his voice, the rhythm -- I don't know what, but it taps into something that we all recognize but might not be able to articulate. I've always thought it, literally, to be Stipe's mourning of his old life before he became a superstar. I think once he became one, he started to un-become one, quite purposefully.

    Thanks for posting that video -- I haven't watched it in years and years.

    AND, I can't help but mention that I saw REM in a bar in Athens when I was in high school in the early eighties. Yup.

  5. Oh my goodness, those photos of you & your son are the best!!! What a sweetheart!

    "Oh no, I've said too much, I haven't said enough," such a familiar feeling. :)

    As always, thanks for your thoughtful writing, Dr. Manning! Hope you have a good day.


  6. I've always loved the song and the video... especially Michael Stipe's dancing. Sometimes I think it's about about losing faith in someone... he wants so much to believe in this person... "I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing, I think I thought I saw you try." He's looking for anything to hold on to. And other times I think he might be a stalker finally giving up on his crush. (that's how my mind works. LOL.) Whatever it means, it's a great song. Classing. Can't believe it's 20+ years old.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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