Imaging deciding to write about every song in R.E.M.’s enormous back catalogue – it’s a truly daunting task but Matthew Perpetua did just that. And as the grand finalé Michael Stipe agreed to answer questions about the songs and lyrics. Now as much and all as I love R.E.M. the lyrics have never meant that much to me. Most of the songs tend to have very little coherent meaning. What I do very much admire however is the sounds of the words Michael chooses with lots of internal rhyming and word play.
I decided to send in a question not about the meaning of lyrics but rather about something that has plagued R.E.M. in recent years. Obviously everyone and their llama sent in questions so mine never got asked but it is still something I think about. Here it is…
Accelerate is brilliant but then REM have consistently been brilliant in many different ways which is why I admire the band so much (if you are interested I wrote about it here ) What I understand is that the band are unhappy with how some of the songs ended up sounding on Around the Sun rather than having a problem aith the songs themselves. Would you ever consider releasing an album of re-recorded tracks? Some ATS tracks might happily benefit and some other songs might be interesting to hear in alternative versions too. The holiday single version of Let me in is exquisite as is the recent live version. The rockier version of Drive was similarly impressive. Leave was a super single that never happened, it’s crying out for a remix release. An album of parallel REM tracks. I’d certainly love to hear such a thing. Thanks for considering my question.
Funnily enough the last question he answered was as follows;
Are there any songs you wish you could go back and re-record in the studio after performing them live?
most of them, yes. Like 95% of them. So it goes ”
That frustrated me an enormous amount cause it is a yes/no question and begs the follow on question, why not do it then?