Song of the Day #3,906: ‘Losing My Religion’ – R.E.M.

Funny how opinions change over time. I’ve written about R.E.M.’s Out of Time a few times before but never in a very positive light. In posts eight and nine years ago I described it as one of the band’s weakest efforts.

Yet here I am in 2019, naming it as my #1 album of 1991. And it wasn’t even a tough decision.

I think the biggest reason for my reassessment is that the band broke up eight years ago, and that distance has allowed me to reflect on the things I loved (and still love) about them, rather than find reasons to nitpick. You never truly appreciate something until it’s gone.

Out of Time, the album that launched R.E.M. to superstardom, does feature a couple of duds (anyone care to defend ‘Radio Song’ or ‘Shiny Happy People?’) but it also boasts some of the band’s best work. ‘Losing My Religion,’ ‘Half a World Away’ and ‘Country Feedback’ are all-timers, and ‘Texarkana,’ ‘Near Wild Heaven,’ ‘Belong,’ ‘Low’ and ‘Me in Honey’ are each excellent in their own offbeat way.

This was the album where R.E.M. went from alt-rock pioneers to baroque pop trailblazers, writing hits almost by accident as they followed their muse down bizarre new paths. Fans ecstatic over the band’s impressive 80s output had no idea what a treat they were in for in the 90s.

[Verse 1]
Oh, life is 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 set it up

[Pre-Chorus 1]
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

[Chorus]
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

[Verse 2]
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 set it up

[Pre-Chorus 2]
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

[Chorus]
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

[Bridge]
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

[Pre-Chorus]
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

[Chorus]
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

[Outro]
But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream
Just a dream, dream

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,906: ‘Losing My Religion’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m a bit surprised by this album getting the top spot given your past criticisms, but I appreciate the reasons you have given.

    Nostalgia can’t be overlooked. The other day we were at a restaurant where a band was playing covers from the 80’s to today. At one point, they broke into “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. I pretty much loathed that song when it was a hit, and yet there I was appreciating the song through the lens of time and nostalgia, not even embarrassed that I knew every word or who the artist was (well, maybe a little embarrassed😊)

    So, while I probably can’t defend “Shiny Happy People” from any objective musical perspective, I bet I would have a similarly positive reaction if that cover band played it or it came on the radio..

    • Amy says:

      Nope, can’t say I’d enjoy the song even in that context. The one saving grace for it is that REM performed a version of it on Sesame Street, where it fit in beautifully. It would be a strong cut on a Laurie Berkner album.

  2. Amy says:

    There are few bands I have as much nostalgic warmth for as REM. While Fables and Life’s Rich Pageant were my go to albums, the songs you highlight from this album are treasures to be sure.

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