Study Guide

Losing My Religion

Losing My Religion Introduction

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" (source), 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

ArtistR.E.M.
Year1991
LabelWarner Brothers
Writer(s)Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
Producer(s)R.E.M. and Scott Litt
Musician(s)Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (mandolin, guitar), Bill Berry (drums), Mike Mills (bass guitar, keyboards, back-up vocals)
Learn to play
AlbumOut of Time

Music Video

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Influences on R.E.M.

Patti Smith
The Velvet Underground
Roger McGuinn
Wire
The Beatles
Big Star
Sting & The Police

Influenced by R.E.M.

10,000 Maniacs
Beat Happening
The Decemberists
Nirvana
Pavement

Losing My Religion Resources

Images

Early R.E.M.
Peter Buck, Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe.

The Deposition
One of the Caravaggio paintings imitated in the "Losing My Religion" video.

The Incredulity of St. Thomas
Another one of the Caravaggio paintings imitated in the "Losing My Religion" video.

Sodoma’s St. Sebastian
Painted by Il Sodoma in 1525.

Websites

Official Website
This official site is glitzy, but there’s no biography, and the news archive cannot be navigated efficiently.

R.E.M. Rock
This is a fan site for the band and it includes a chat room and forum for fans interested in sharing their views on R.E.M.

Video & Audio

"Losing My Religion" Music Video
The Tarsem Singh video that won the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.