Losing My Religion
In a Nutshell
In a Nutshell
Fans have spent hours breaking down and analyzing R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” but lead singer Michael Stipe has suggested that it’s all misguided. “It's just a song about having a crush," he says; it’s about the uncertainty and fear that surround revealing your feelings.
Stipe’s explanation has not stopped the speculation, though. Fans still find more in the song, and the video that R.E.M. released with the song in 1991 has encouraged them. Filmmaker Tarsem Singh strung together a set of provocative images that suggests far more than a simple crush. Still, Stipe says that there is nothing more to it.
Do you believe him? Should we believe him? Does an artist have the last word on a song’s meaning in the first place? Or could a song have a meaning larger than that intended—or even recognized—by the artist?
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (mandolin, guitar), Bill Berry (drums), Mike Mills (bass guitar, keyboards, back-up vocals)
|Album||Out of Time|
|Writer(s)||Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe|
|Producer(s)||R.E.M. and Scott Litt|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
R.E.M. built a reputation on the college circuit as a progressive rock band with a distinctive sound and intelligent—if often unintelligible—lyrics, but the band attained a larger audience with “Losing My Religion” and the album Out of Time,
released in 1991. Their story forms one of those interesting little chapters in the history of rock and roll (http://www.shmoop.com/history-of-rock/).
Co-songwriter Michael Stipe has said that the song is about a crush, but analysts have found other themes in the song such as religion and homosexuality that have been explored by other artists such as C.S. Lewis (http://www.shmoop.com/lion-witch-wardrobe/) and Allen Ginsberg (http://www.shmoop.com/howl/).
On the Charts
“Losing My Religion” reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991. The song is also #169 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
R.E.M. were nominated for seven awards at the 1992 Grammys, and “Losing My Religion” gave them two wins: Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Short Form Music Video.