Sunday, November 3, 2013

Song Spot: Losing my Religion


I recently posted a Bytes about Sting’s anthem for stalkers, Every Breath You Take. At the end of that post I mentioned that a future Bytes would look at a statement by Michael Stipe of REM that he was inspired to write Losing My Religion by listening to Every Breath You Take.

Here it is.

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Video:

See and hear the official clip by clicking on:


Well worth a look and will assist regarding the comments below.

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Lyrics:

Oh life, it's bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I've said enough

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

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

Every whisper 
Of every waking hour
I'm choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I've said too much
I've said enough

Consider this
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

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
Try, cry, why try
That was just a dream
Just a dream
Just a dream, dream

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Comments:

According to an interview with Michael Stipe, the expression "losing my religion" is from the southern region of the United States and means losing one's temper or civility, of "being at the end of one's rope,"  of being pushed to the limit.

Stipe has also said that it is about "someone who pines for someone else. It's unrequited love, what have you."

As for being inspired by Every Breath You Take: "It's just a classic obsession pop song. I've always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, 'Yeah, that's me.'"

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The song is about an obsessive crush that the singer has on a girl, similar to the stalker in EBYT. The girl is not responsive (“The lengths that I will go to, The distance in your eyes”) and as a result he worries that he has said too much, perhaps not said enough. He is at his wit’s end, losing it (“losing my religion”). The singer wants a deeper, emotional bond, the other person appears not to be interested. The situation, according to Stipe, “has pushed you so far that you would lose your faith over it. Something has pushed you to the nth degree.” 

Some writers have speculated that the object of the obsessive crush is not a female but another man, that the fact that it is a same sex crush is part of the reason the singer is in such turmoil.

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"Okay. This song is beloved around the world. It is. It wasn't our fault; it just happened, and it's one of those freak things and we're really proud of it. When you have a crush on somebody, and you think that they understand that but you're not sure, and you're dropping all kinds of hints, and you think that they're responding to these hints but you're not sure -- that's what this song is about: thinking that you've gone too far, you've dropped a hint that is just the size of Idaho, and they responded in a way that maybe confused you, or they haven't responded at all or they responded in a way that seemed like 'well, maybe I'm gonna- maybe I'm- maybe something's gonna happen here!' and I think I've probably said this seven thousand times, but the phrase 'losing my religion' is a southern phrase which means that something has pushed you so far that you would lose your faith over it. Something has pushed you to the nth degree, and that's what this is about. Now, some people still think that it's a song about religion; it's not. It's just a song about having a crush."

- Michael Stipe

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Notwithstanding that Losing My Religion is about an obsessive, unrequited crush and not about religion, the producer of the official video clip, Tarsem Singh, has filled the clip with religious images, symbols, allusions and themes. The clip includes images from a story by Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. The story revolves around a poor couple who lock up an angel fallen from Heaven in a chicken coop and charge their neighbours admission to see him in a freak show.


The video incorporates images from the works of Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio and of Saint Sebastian, a member of the Roman guard who became a member of the imperial guard of the Emperor Diocletian. He secretly converted to Christianity and supported Christians about to die but, upon being discovered, was ordered by the emperor to be tied to a tree and have arrows fired into his body.

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When Singh saw Stipes spastic form of dancing, he incorporated that in the video clip.

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REM guitarist Peter Buck wrote the distinctive main mandolin riff and chorus from his recording his first attempts to learn the mandolin. According to Buck “When I listened back to it the next day, there was a bunch of stuff that was really just me learning how to play mandolin, and then there's what became 'Losing My Religion', and then a whole bunch more of me learning to play the mandolin." 

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Some Catholic groups protested the video.

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Stipe's vocal was recorded in a single take.

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By the way:

REM stands for the stage of sleep called rapid eye movement, which Stipe selected at random from a dictionary.

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