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Losing My Religion by R.E.M.

Album: Out Of TimeReleased: 1991Charted:
  • The title is a Southern expression meaning "At my wit's end," as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. If you were "Losing your religion" over a person, It could also mean losing faith in that person. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Doug - Chicago, IL
  • Stipe told Rolling Stone magazine: "I wanted to write a classic obsession song. So I did." In addition to calling it a song about "obsession," Stipe has also referred to it as a song about "unrequited love" in which all actions and words of the object of your obsession are scrubbed for hidden meaning and hopeful signs. The lyrics pretty clearly support this: "I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Redstar - Redding, CT
  • This song has its origins in guitarist Peter Buck's efforts to try learn to play the mandolin. When he played back recordings of his first attempts, he heard the riff and thought it might make a good basis for a song. Explaining how the song came together musically, Buck told Guitar School in 1991: "I started it on mandolin and came up with the riff and chorus. The verses are the kinds of things R.E.M. uses a lot, going from one minor to another, kind of like those 'Driver 8' chords. You can't really say anything bad about E minor, A minor, D, and G – I mean, they're just good chords.

    We then worked it up in the studio – it was written with electric bass, drums, and mandolin. So it had a hollow feel to it. There's absolutely no midrange on it, just low end and high end, because Mike usually stayed pretty low on the bass. This was when we decided we'd get Peter (Holsapple) to record with us, and he played live acoustic guitar on this one. It was really cool: Peter and I would be in our little booth, sweating away, and Bill and Mike would be out there in the other room going at it. It just had a really magical feel.

    And I'm proud to say every bit of mandolin on the record was recorded live – I did no overdubbing. If you listen closely, on one of the verses there's a place where I muffled it, and I thought, well, I can't go back and punch it up, because it's supposed to be a live track. That was the whole idea."
  • The band claims this is not about religion and loss of faith, although the video is full of religious imagery. Some Catholic groups protested the video.
  • In 2003, Stipe told Entertainment Weekly, "'Losing My Religion' was a fluke hit. It was a 5-minute song with no chorus and a mandolin as the lead instrument. So for us to hold that as the bar we have to jump over every time we write a song would be ridiculous."
  • This won the Grammy in 1991 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
  • The video was the first to show lead singer Michael Stipe dancing. The director, Tarsem Singh, hung out with the band to get ideas, and when he saw Stipe's spastic dance style, he thought it would look great in the video.
  • The video is based in part on Gabriel Garcia Marquez' A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. The novel tells the story about an angel who falls down from heaven and how the people who make money displaying him as a "freak show." Michael Stipe is a big Marquez fan and the whole idea of obsession and unrequited love is the central theme of the author's masterpiece, Love in the Time of Cholera. The first line of the novel: "It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gabriela - Santiago, Chile
  • This was given the working title of "Sugar Cane" when the band demoed it in July 1990 at a studio in Athens.
  • A common misinterpretation of this song is that it was about John Lennon's death, with the lyrics, "What if all these fantasies come flailing around" being a reference to Lennon's last album Double Fantasy.
  • Michael Stipe took a laid-back approach with this song: "I remember that I sang this in one go with my shirt off. I don't think any of us had any idea it would ever be ... anything," he noted in Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011. Peter Buck added that Warner Bros. didn't even want the song as a single, and everyone was surprised when it took off. "It changed our world. We went from selling a few million worldwide with Green to over 10 million. It was in that area where we had never been before which isn't bad," he said.
  • This was used on Beverly Hills, 90210 in the 1991 episodes "Beach Blanket Brandon" and "Down and Out of District in Beverly Hills"; on Smallville in the 2003 episode "Slumber"; on Glee in the 2010 episode "Grilled Cheesus"; and on Parks and Recreation in the 2013 episode "Filibuster."
  • Peter Buck recalled to Uncut: "I bought a mandolin on tour in '87, I think. It became a good songwriting tool. It never occurred to me to play mandolin in a bluegrass style. For me it was a rock instrument."
  • Producer Scott Litt recalled his contribution to Mojo: "I remember mixing 'Losing My Religion' at Paisley Park. I had Bill (Berry, drums) nudging up to me and saying, 'You know, I think the drums could be louder', and he was spot on. The strings and the vocals are maybe more memorable, but the drums are really important. He's even doubling the mandolin figure at the beginning. The last mix on that song was 'drums boosted' and that became the track."
  • When introducing the song during an appearance on MTV Unplugged, Stipe pointed to the audience and said, "This is about you." Mojo asked him what he meant. He replied shrugging, "No idea. It's something I said on a night in 1991. I have no idea why I said it. Of course we attach the narrative in a song to the person with the voice, which is me. And so I get that. But it was not autobiographic."
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Comments: 97

I only understood this as an adult, and I agree with those who have said this is about being gay, though I think he hasn't come out but there's a suspicion from family. Why do I think this? Here:
1.) "Losing My Religion" *could* be seen as being cast out due to certain religion's beliefs about lgbt individuals.

1.) "life is bigger, it's bigger than you and you are not me. The lengths that I would go to. The distance in your eyes"
****I feel like this is saying that whomever this is directed at is unwilling to walk in another person's shoes, and that the world is full of acceptance not just old fashioned thinking. The lengths he goes to could be him either working hard to hide that he's gay or acting hetero around certain people who disapprove. I think the distance in your eyes is a family member/friend avoiding him, almost disowning him.*****

3.) "oh no, I've said too much....I've set it up"
*****Here I think he's saying he's got to watch every thing he says, and this time he worries he revealed stuff accidentally (even if he's just being paranoid) that could confirm he's gay. Set It Up has some interesting definitions such as: to claim oneseIf to be (to be gay?), and to place in view (maybe he did just come out or thinks he may have?)
c : to put forward (as a plan) for acceptance*******

4.) "that's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight..."
*****maybe he feels punished or isolated, while still having all the focus on him-being under constant scrutiny***

5.) "oh no, I've said too much. I haven't said enough"
****This stands out for me as very important: he's worried he accidentally gave incriminating evidence, but actually he didn't come out and just say he's gay-so he hasn't said what he feels he needs to say to end the emotional turmoil perhaps*****

6.) "I think I thought I saw you try"
***here it seems like a lot of hopeful thinking-that his secret is out and he thinks the people he's worried about are trying to be OK with who he is*****

7.) "every whisper of every waking hour I'm choosing my confessions"
*****speaks for itself I think - he's constantly stressing over what/how much to tell people*****

8.) "consider this the hint of the century. Consider this-the slip that brought me to my knees failed"
****He was crumbling (on inside I'd guess) cuz he thought he slipped up but if he did nobody figured it out, and as far as he's concerned they can count his slip up as the closest hint they'll get regarding his secret....at least for a while*****

9.) I think the fantasies mentioned are tied to him thinking he heard laughter & singing after the truth is revealed which equals everything being ok. He was just dreaming that he thought those things because he's still in the same position: in a corner with all attention on him

10.) "try, cry, why try?"
*****why try, it'll just lead to pain****

11.) video shows angels, falling. It also shows some older guy who looks a bit condemning. I think of all the people he's worried about his father. Only 2 women are shown in video-rest are guys. The angels are mostly falling or losing feathers....I think the video supports my thinking if you're looking at the song as I suddenly was.
Alicia - Green Bay, Wi
I've always wondered about the meaning of this song; I ONLY comprehended when I questioned MY religion and realized we were being lied to for about 5,000 years. Religion has being Satan set up to sit down in The congregation and exalted as G-D! saying this: I still wonder who really inspired this song. It has a subliminal message?! Is a mockery, a blasphemy?!! I still being confused by the message behind it! .. I like this song but I don't want to offended YAH'Betsa - New York
I agree, personally. I have heard this song is about unrequited love and all that, but i relate to it more as being friends with someone who is depressed.

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
This part is about fighting with someone depressed. They often feel like you are abandoning them, and can be very self centered. They want you to give up everything for them. Which we cant do.

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
Trying to support depressed people and make them feel better, its hard. Their thoughts can jump around erratically.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
This should be obvious.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I'm choosing my confessions
You have to confess something, but what? Their depression is their secret, not yours.

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
You have to watch out for them every single second, trying to stop them from hurting themselves, and you lose sight of whats important.

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
You say you cant handle it, but they always just rely on you more.

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
When you finally think theyre getting better, they get worse again.

This is not necessarily what the song means. This is just what it means to me. Its seems like it is written about me and my friendship with a depressed girl. And im depressed too, so no one be offended or anything.
Olivia - Sf, Ca
Listen... he's talking about a relationship with someone who is depressed. It doesn't have to be a romantic relationship. This person is not trying to improve. He keeps reaching out to help but the depressed person doesn't seem to want to get better. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you care about sink into depression and there's nothing you can do. He is at his wit's end trying to reach the person who reaches back but holds themselves back just out of reach.Dragonflye - Hays, Ks
Losing my religion is NOT about losing faith in someone in southern terminology. It means you are angry and saying a lot of bad or curse words because of the anger, hence losing my religion. As someone who has grown up in the south and lived here all my life I would know.Jim - Madison, Al
I love the song and if I ever sing karaoke, its the song I can really nail...Rich - Brooklyn, Ny
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song!! Until yesterday, I never knew who sang it....I heard REM is taking a LONG hiatus....when the race is run put the horse back in the barn. WOW!!! All the 'meanings' so many different people posted telling the rest of us what the song is about, who it is about and why it was written...why are there so many different ideas??? Are any of you correct??? Lol, people crack me up.Valerie - Eureka, Ca
I've always thought this song was about unrequited love, and still do.
A beautifully sad song.
Brad - Topeka, Ks
Not so sure what the song itself is about, although I always thought it was an obsessive love.

The video, however... One of the last shots is some of the people gathered around the black wings on a red background. Look eerily Third Reich to you?
Kerry Ditson - Shrewsbury, Ma
It's a beautiful song. I think this song it's about two things: homosexuality and crush, not about religion.
Arianna, Sibiu
Stanciu - Sibiu, Romania
It's about having a crush on someone and being stuck in no-man's land: You're at your wit's end however you're reluctant to abandon the obsession because it gives you hope. So instead of a big reveal, you're left grasping for clues from them, that they feel the same way. Throughout the process, the mind plays tricks. You misinterpret their behavior to your own benefit. Your imagination runs wild. In the end, you wish it was all a dream and not something you have to face.Jaws - Philadelphia, Pa
Dude I just learnrd to play this on guitar. I have always liked this song.It is not that hard to learn pretty basic chords and it sounds good just strumming it.Brian - Boston, Ma
This song is about Lucifer's regrets on his challenging G.d for supremacy.Richard - Omaha, Ne
It may not be about religion at all, but for me it's always connected on that level my dad to this day when religion comes up and I stand firm in atheism he always says "Life is bigger than you" and this song kind of reinforced my beliefs for me, and my dad being a musician and the stories I've heard about artists in the limelight, it's all things I could see make you lose your religion.Cary - Casa Grande, Az
Michael Stipe on "Losing My Religion" : "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."Madeleine - Amherst, Ma
There are alot of wonderful interpetations of this song here.I thought I would take a stab at it.This for someone who made a strong impression on me that will never read this.

Life is bigger
It's bigger than you
I know that there is more to life then
And you are not me
I can only be whom I am.
The lengths that I will go to
The anguish that I have put myself
through over you.
The distance in your eyes
I'm just not important to you.
Oh no I've said too much
I've exposed myself.
I set it up
Here we go again.

That's me in the corner
I am alone.
That's me in the spotlight
I feel like everyone is watching.
Losing my religion
I am at the end of my rope.
Trying to keep up with you
I listen intently to the little news
of you.
And I don't know if I can do it
Am I strong enough?
Oh no I've said too much
I have exposed myself.
I haven't said enough
I have so much to say.
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
You always there just beyond my senses.

Every whisper
Every thought.
Of every waking hour
All the time.
Choosing my confessions
I'm thinking what to say.
Trying to keep an eye on you
I listen intently to the little news
of you.

Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
I'm an idiot.
Oh no I've said too much
I've exposed myself.
I set it up
Here we go again.

Consider this
The hint of the century
My interpetation of this song.
Consider this
The slip that brought me
I've really put my foot in it.
To my knees failed
I'm lost.
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
What would happen if my wishes came true?
Now I've said too much
Ive exposed myself.
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
You always there just beyond my senses.

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
Its only a wish.
Don - Stratford, On
In my experience, losing your religion, was getting so angry that you started to curse. That's the way my mother always used it.Stephen - San Antonio, Tx
This song is TOTALLY auotbiographical. The spotlight is the real stage spotlight, and that's Stipe in it. Yes, he is Losing his religion (faith in) being able to inspire his audience. "I thought that i heard you (The audience)sing, laugh try".Try? yes, try to do waht he suggests we do..vote, conserve, be politically active. But that was just a dream. His audience wasn't singing, dreaming, trying. Therefore he is losing his religion. Or getting discouraged and losing faith in us (his audience). "Oh no, I said too much." Did my audience hear something that I did not intend. (On second thought) "I haven't said enough." IThere is much more I can do to inspire my audience, I need to say more.

I am convinced Stipe plays with his listeners in interviewsby giving false leads. Also, he often says he writes about other characters and this is obviously true. But in this case it is all about his questioning his role and whether he is effective at communicating with his audience.
James - Pacifica, Ca
I thought it was about losing your love, someone you've built up into almost an obsession and then they start slipping away. At least that's what I thought it was about when it came out and it was exactly how I felt about my boyfriend at the time (I'm a woman, btw).Alyson - Bellerose Terrace, Ny
I have no idea what the song is about but this is how I interpreted it:
It's for me about a guy who has been built up to do amazing things, (maybe academically, maybe as a sportsman) and everyone thinks he's good enough, but he knows deep down and has done from the start he isn't good enough. He knows eventually he will have to tell people he isn't good enough.
'You are not me' whoever has built him up can't live their dreams through him.
'That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight' the corner one made me think he's alone, the spotlight is a spotlight he can't live up to.
'Consider this hint of the century' he's tried so hard to tell people he isn't good enough but the people won't listen.
The various lines of 'Oh no I've said to much' is him setting up a situation to confess, regretting it, then wanting to go on.
'I thought that I saw you laughing' he is pleading to the people who expect him to do well to take it easy.
This worked perfectly for me because my parents used to expect me to be at the top of my year at school, but I clearly wasn't as bright as those guys, looking back I wonder how I even competed with them.

PS: This is the best song of the 90's, and R.E.M are better than Nirvana, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains or any other 90's band, THEY RULE!
Chris - Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Very Possibly the best single of the 90'sAnduarto - St.louis, Mo
This song is about depersonalization, "I thought that i saw you laughing, I think i thought i saw you try" When someone has depersonalization they see everything as a movie or a dream and are disconnected from the real world. "But that was just a dream, thats me in the corner" they often find it impossible to show feelings and find themselves in their own world.Billy - Chicago, Il
The old man looking back at life is an interesting theory, but really overshoots what is the obvious meaning - Obsession and unrequited loveRedstar - Redding, Ct
Stipe Talks about the Meaning and purpose of his song in this interview
Check It OUT
Jake - Boston, Ma
The song is about the painful process of
going through therapy. Seems clear Stipe
was going thru some psychotherapy the raw,
hard-won rewards of that difficult process.
Of course that experience includes revealing
a lot about yourself, and getting deeply
crushed out on the therapist.
Stacy - St Louis, Wa
i l ike the way marc from bellin, germany is so connected to this song, im not quite that connected but currently i feel liek im leaving behind all my deep thoughts about life n my interest in literature as im beginning to party more..its making it hard for to stay on track..so i feel like its me talking to myself in thisDylan - Oneida, Wi
What is the strange 'click' at 15 seconds from the start of this Song? Just when Michael starts singing. It all sounds perfect except that one thing. Maybe the vocals were rerecorded over in the beginning. Perhaps someone knows more about it.Frank - Best, -
im pretty sure this song is about coming out of the closet. I think everyones takin the name too literally "losing my religion" doesnt neccesarily mean that hes actually losing his religion. "I've said too much", "I havent said enough" "That's me in the corner", "That's me in the spotlight" "I thought that i heard you laughing" "I thought that i heard you cry". This all sounds to me like someone confused about coming out of the closet.Nick - New York, Ny
The song is about old man looking back at life.
Line by line interpretation:

The writer is old and looking back at his youth.
He thaught he was big, but proven wrong by life, as things didn't turn the way he planned them to be.
Now small lengths are hard to cover, while earlier longer distances were in the eyes to be covered.

He thinks he had overestimated himself and setup the failure for himself.

Now he is in the corner(sidelined, ignored, helpless), then he was in the spotlight(loved , cared).
He's losing his religion(his beliefs & abilities), in trying to keep up to the plans he made in his youth.

In his youth he enjoyed life(laughed, sang) and tried for his goals.

His mind keeps whispering of the goals not yet achieved, and he's looking for(choosing) excuses.
Still eyeing on youth time goals, despite confidence hurt, abilities lost, and blinded by hope.

He again thinks he had overestimated himself and setup the failure for himself.

Then he gathers himself and another hint of hope come,
he thinks maybe the reasons that stopped his achievement of goals have themselves failed, and he can do them now.

Now this time he thinks he has gone limits in overestimating himself.

But then in his youth he enjoyed life(laughed, sang) and tried for his goals.

Maybe the goals were just dreams, and not meant for being achieved.
Just a dream.
Mahesh - Gurgaon, India
Despite all these attempts to uncover the real meaning of this song, this song really is about uncovering the real meaning of this song.Daniel - Tucson, Az
how is their any question, its about losing your religoin. Every line is about the questioning of god and not being able to think freely(oh no i've said to much i havent said enough) Their would be absolutley no question about that if christians in the early 90s werent protesting the band, thats obviously why they said its not a religous song, wich you can say about any song that talks about religoin. call it a heart brake song or a spiritual song, either way the band wasnt lying, but the original bold lyrics are allt he evidence you need to support the theory tha this song is about losing your religoin, something many people hopefully go through in their life. It's never easy, but after you know santa or jesus don't really exist when you look at the evidence, you can start leading a good life, without thinking about being on the naughty list. Besides why behave and do the right thing because theirs an invisable servalance camera in the sky.George - Jackson, Nj
This song could be about fame and the self corosive problems that many famous people face. "Thats me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight/losing my religion" A part of the person is still normal and in the corner while the other part is on stage feeling famous but very lost and isolated. They try to talk about their feelings to people around them but either no one listens at all or they think the person is completely crazy for revealing so much. The singer in this song seems to be losing the fight. They are losing confidence and the ability to regulate themselves effectively. They are losing their religion in this case their direction, focus, passion and sanity and connection to the normal part of themselves which is in the corner and silent.Cc - Virginia Beach, Va
Actually Stipe danced in the Pop Song 89 Video clip barechest with two ladies (barechest as well...)Yannick - Montreal, Qc
With the grunge revolution lurking just over the horizon, R.E.M., pioneers of alt rock, burst into the mainstream. Sparking dozens of conversations about its meaning, "Losing My Religion" is, in its most basic sense, a gorgeous folk-influenced pop tune about the feeling of going crazy. It is understated and unforgettable.Bertrand - Paris, France
i dont care what it mean to other people. to me it means the way of losing a religion one found out is not gods but mens way. every line of this song fits my feelings perfectly. strong faith and the disappointment when everything your life is based on is actually rubbish, but you just cant leave, because you would lose all your loved ones, be an evil sinner, everyone talks about you, looks down on you, getting judged for following your conscience. done believe, try to keep up... now ive said too much. i havent said enough. thats my personal meaning. it makes me cry.Marc - Berlin, Germany
I went to high school with Stipe. We lived in a small illinois farming community. Our high school served three towns. I think the song expresses what it was like for him, a world wise air force brat, having to deal with the small town mentality in the bible belt.Kathy - St. Louis, United States
I heard this when I was 9 and I've loved it since. I think it's about trying to fit in and sacraficing yourself in order to do so. Our system works in a way that makes everyone uncomfortable with themselves. They try and change who they are and what they believe to fit with the image that the media feed to mindless sheep.

Hey, I'm usually wrong about stuff like this. But I like to think I'm right.
Thomas - Londonion, England
The "artists" don't always reveal what the song is written about. Sometimes they seem to want to leave it open to interpretation. Like this one.

The video is plain weird. But the music and the mandolin make it interesting - and good.

This video, from the first few seconds, was about homosexuality, I have no doubt about that.

The first indication of this being about sexual orientation comes when the male figure comes up behind Stipes and caresses his shoulders (no, I don't think it was a simple, casual rub and even if it were, how many hetero guys give their mates shoulder massages, even one ever so brief?) The coming up from behind is symbolic of, well, it's rather obvious.
Niall - Cornwall, United States
I just love this song..there is a sense of desperation about it.Beth - Pittsburgh, Pa
just a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine told that the song is about getting so drunk en throw up,losing your religion!Dave - Den Bosch, Netherlands
Well it looks as though every meaning in the world's been tossed out for this song--so...I'm just gonna say that R.E.M. are a beautiful group of people and this is a pretty darn good song.Shelby - The Other Side , United States
I go with the southern expression, and yet another song about one day being nobody, and the next day dealing with fame. I think the guy with the teacher:pupil comment is confusing the song with "Don't Stand so Close to Me," by the Police. I'm quite fond of the expressions "Losing my religion", and "Not everyone can cary the weight of the world."Gregmon - Intelbuquerque, Nm
i think this song is dependant on the audience- you make a song personal to yourself and you try and relate it to your life in some way if it brings out emotion in you. For me personally i believe the song is about lovers, about losing someone you really care about, wanting to be with them but it being impossible. So many things unsaid but you have talked too much already. I believe that 'losing my religion' means losing faith in things you once held to be so true and close to heart.Lindsay Trumper - Darlington, England
This song is about a lot of things, every song is. It means to us what it means to us, no matter the emotional origin. Yes, beautiful Tori covered this and it works depending on the mood.Danci - Treetown, Ok
Hi, I think I just figured out many things, reading your comments ! :D

Well, I agree with the "Every Breath You Take" theory, and here is why :
- "that's me in the spot light" references "you don't have to put on the red light"
- "I thought that I heard you laughing" : if you listen to the begining of Roxan, you can hear Sting laughing

But there's also something about emotions and Michael would like to tell us something but he can't. And what if there had been something between Sting and him, and it made him happy, but he couldn't talk about it.

That's only an hypothesis...or a dream. For the matter, "that was just a dream, etc." at the end of the song... Think about it :)

I think Michael was so charmed by "Every Breath you take" that he made a dream of him and Sting.
Alex - Paris, United States
Although I haven't listened to this song much, I think that this song is more about some losing someone they love or care about a lot, like a lover or a close friend. "The distance in your eyes" kind of signifies that they were close, but they've grown apart. "Trying to keep up with you" is a way of saying trying to understand what the person's saying or doing. When he says "I've said to much, I haven't said enough", he can't find the words to say to change the person's mind. He shows that he feels like it's his fault by saying "I set it up". "I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing, I think I thought I saw you try" is his way of saying he thought things were getting better, but in the end "that was just a dream".Tabitha - Brooklyn Park, Md
The meaning of this song is simple. It's about being a closeted hommosexual who's attempting to declare their sexuality ("choosing my confessions")in a homophobic world. In doing so, you are often rejected by your religion and rediculed by those around you ("every whisper," "I thought that I heard you laughing"). Such declaration is ultimately necessary, however, because you can't stay in the corner forever. You can only hope that those you care about most will continue to offer you friendship.Dominic Foley - St. John's, Nl, Canada
A very good song ruined by overplay on the radio. Why don't the british radio stations realise that REM made lots and lots of fantastic songs other than this and "the sidewinder.." Also.. not regarded this in the same light since Hale & Pace satired this with a song and video titles "shiny happy crappy lyrics"Paul - Redditch, England
I don't know what it's about but it's one of the best songs ever written and I danced to it on a table in a pub in London on my 30th birthday. Happy days!Andy - London, England
this song is about masturbation. the religious iconage of the video just make the irony that much more delicious.Andy - Atlanta, Ga
This song is the patron song of recovering Catholics. Or maybe recovering Jews. Maybe recovering Moslems. Zorastrians? Republicans.Nick - Raleigh, Nc
Everybody is trying to find out what this song is about except me; I don't care, it's not important, I just love it.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
I forgot to add, the singers voice is mostly low and then higher in place. This reflects the pain they feel from the rejection.None - None, United States
This song isn't about religion. It's about one of two things; homosexuality or a crush. A crush seems more accurate. It's about being deeply emotionally involved with someone, but they don't show any care or attention. losing my religion means losing faith in the person and you're starting to wonder whether you should be caring. that was just a dream means the person knows that it won't happen and that they will never care and so they're finding it hard to move on. In a different interpretation losing my religion can mean that you tried to change for this person, you tried your best to fit their lifestyle and the way they are but you couldn't do it (i dont think i can do it). The singer really wants to tell the person how much they care, but they can't bring the right words out (i havent said enough) It's about being rejected as well (like a hurt lost and blinded fool). They keep giving hints, they keep showing that they feel quite a bit, but they don't notice or don't care. (distance in your eyes).

I thought that I heard you laughing, is possible stalking. But it seems to me, that the singer is imagining what the person is like if they were with them. But that was just a dream, this means that they'll never have that. The person hasn't shown any feelings and so they realise that they've been imagining it all.
None - None, United States
The magic of the song is that you all have different interpretations, and how amazingly good does a song have to be to spawn so many interpretations, and make everyone so sure of these interpretations? It's almost poetry!Dorian - Pontefract, England
I don't know what "articles" you've been reading, Daisy, but this song was released in 1991 - four years before the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995. Unless Stipe was actually involved in the planning of the attacks, and was writing a tribute to his premeditated victims in the hour it took him to pen the song's lyrics.....Tony - Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia
To those who think that this song's about a girl. I doubt Stipe would be singing about a girl. He's gay ya know.Mattieboo - Monterey, Ca
i though this song meant that religion is dying as time passesDarwin - El Paso, Tx
People, people, people. It's never been any secret. This song is about Stipe's admiration for Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority Coalition.Ash - Charleston, Wv
What? Hello, this song is not about any of those things. Stipe has insisted repeatedly in numerous articles that it's a tribute to the lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing.Daisy Fuentes - Salinas, Ks
Actually, this song is about the Cuban Missile Crisis.Joe Schmo - Denver, Co
this is a praise song actually!REM really did it well.AVE AVE AVE mariaGerald - Philippines, Other
well once agen it looks like I missunderstood the lyrics (big suprise). I always thought this was about a preformer or entertainer "losing his aduience" you know his following In a sense his own religion. when he sings "theres me in the spot light" and "I thougt that I heard you laghing, I thought that I heard you cry" meaning hes out there on the stage trying to entertain but no one really is that impressed or hes getting mixed reatons, some people love him, and some hate himJer - London, Canada
Great song.

R.E.M, the spritual of Rock.
Matthew - East Brunswick, Nj
I don't understand the video...Dawson - Draper, Ut
For me losing my religion is the obvious, losing any sort of very strong faith. One faith that you held very close to you and was an integral part of your life.

Without it, you are essentially 'lost' to an extent. Which Stipe refers to: ''hurt lost and blinded fool''. To be about a crush, then it seems that is a superficial reason, but some of these lyrics are pretty powerful, that mean some sort of strong faith of something is here.
I personally think it's about our relationship with God. And how we all find our own way to interpret or worship God.
''you are not me'' - our own path
But it doesn't have to be about God. It could be about any difficulty, and hardship - God fits this bill because He is so hard to grasp any reality of.
the constant shift: ''in the corner'', ''in the spotlight''. For me this shift shows the group aspect of the song. the corner is where we want to be, alone considering what lies beyond. society forces us to move into the spotlight, in the end, we can't all work it out like the rest.

Some of us end up losing faith, not just in God but those around us.
Randomise - Manchester, United States
Tori Amos covered this song. She did a pretty damn good job, as usual, and added that unnecessary emotional tone to it, but still good nonetheless.Brendon - Paxton, Il
I like the video. song's great and u never get bored of listening to this one....and easy to play also...only 3 chords....Sum Sum - New Delhi, India
According to "Pop Up Video", losing your religion meant to lost your temper.Kelli - Cedar Rapids, Ia
uhhhh NOT a religious song... its a STALKER song... i.e. Every Breath You Take.
Deal with it.
Justin - Pittsgrove, Nj
Interesting little fact that comes from the liner notes of "In Time: The Best of R.E.M." (I think it came with the Special Edition version of the CD)

"If you think about it, our career can be divided into the two-parts: pre-Losing My Religion and post-Losing My Religion. Before [Losing My] Religion, R.E.M. was a large cult band touring ten months a year. Respected and successful, we were still considered kind of minor league. Afterward, we had hit singles, platinum albums, we were on the covers of all kinds of unlikely magazines, and, at least for a couple of years, were one of the biggest bands in the world. All of which is irrelevant...When I think about Losing My Relgion, I think about the process of writing and recording it, and how dream-like and effortless it was. THe music was written in five minutes; the first time the band played it, it fell into place perfectly. Michael had lyrics within the hour and while playing the song for the third or fourth time, I found myself incredibly moved to hear the vocals in conjunction with the music. To me, Losing My Religion feels like some kind of archetype that was floating around in space that we managed to lasso. If only all songwriting was this easy."
Mike - Cambridge, Ma
Foaks, quit repeating the fact that "Losing one's religion" is a southern expression as if this would be the definitive solution of the puzzle.I know it's an expression, but has any of you bothered to wonder how the expression was born? Or do you think the word "religion" in the expression has nothing to do with the word "religion" in general? Well, here's the grand solution: normally (especially in traditional societies) when people are at their wit's end, they start to question the existence of their gods, to lose their faith in them and to become desperate about their place in the universe.In this sense, you can say about someone who's desperate over something he is losing his religion.That's the origin of the expression so the expression is not ONLY an expression of the beautiful south.So it has something to do with religion/existence/philosophy.Avalon Byrne - Sibiu, Romania
Oh please, you people and your ridiculous theories. The band has explained this song over and over and yet its like beating a dead horse. The song is based on the southern expression of loosing one's patience or temper. It has nothing to do with religion or pregnancy.Wil - Kc, Ks
Actually, I still think the song is about religion.Stipe's declarations that the actual subject is a crush or a conversation with someone you're obsessed about are not necessarily relevant in this respect.Artists have the habit of hiding behind shallow explanations and interpretations.Especially today, when everybody wants to know the exact truth behind every song and they are forced to give at least some account of how they came to write the song.Anyway, the idea is that good songs with good lyrics always allow 2 or 3 interpretations(if their meaning is not obvious) and this fact being given, it is almost impossible not to also interprete this one as a religious/existentialist song.Of course, other interpretations may also fit, but every single line can be understood as part of a dialogue with God and in this way lines like "I set it up"(IT!) and "I said too much", "I haven't said enough" begin to show their actual, less prosaic significance.Also, lines like "I think I heard you laughing", "I think I heard you sing" "but it was just a dream" and so on express somebody's doubts as to the humanity of God, as to the possibility of humans to communicate with this distant God.("the distance in your eyes").Man has to choose between this uncertain God and life and he seems to incline to the conviction that "life is bigger". It's true:some of the lines can also be seen as the expression of unfulfilled love and God is sometimes being addressed to like a human/lover.But that doesn't change anything; it just adds to the genius of this polymorphic text.Avalon Byrne - Sibiu, Romania
i thought it was about one losing their virginity before they were married, and the girl got pregent.Gywn - Queens,new York
I think this song is about a mental awareness of ones own homosexuality. Every homo secretly wants to be straight or normal, lets face it, homosexuality does not have many selling points. The song is about Stipe, from an external point of view (that's me in the corner, that's me in the spot light). And the lengths that he will go through in order to fit in and work toward what he thinks will fulfill him. He will try and turn into someone else, not himself (And you are not me). Regardless how much he believes he is capable of making what he thinks is the right choice, it's always a lie.

Well brought up Homo's were taught good morals, good selfless Christians morals, and they work toward them tirelessly, until they reach a point where their life starts to fall apart, they loose their religion.

A homo will over analyze himself and police his behavior in order to make himself more acceptable (Choosing my confessions), working toward the morals he was taught, but never finding love as a result, just being hurt himself because he believe he is incapable (Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, I think I heard you laughing, I thought I heard you sing, I think I thought I saw you try) and know that if anything were to happen with a woman, he would end up hurting her with his dishonesty for no real reason (The distance in your eyes). He will try and make himself fit where he does not. Until finally the realization that everything he wanted was just a dream hits him and he knows that his dreams will be unfulfilled, everything that everyone else has is impossible for him, and there is nothing he can do about it apart from just accepting it.

So it is a song of obsession and acceptance, obsession with ones self and ones own behavior and acceptance of the fact that most times dreams will remain unfulfilled.
Andrew - Pretoria, South Africa
used in the soap opera show bevely hills 90210 where dylan and brenda break up in his car where they are at the beach.Tony - Manitowoc, Wi
When R.E.M. were on MTV unplugged Stipe said the song was about a pupil having a crush on a teacher. End of discussion!Rick - Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
The first REM song I ever heard. They're now my fav. group!!Mark - Dundee, Scotland
I find this all very amusing because a while back I downloaded the song because I'd finally got the artist's name and song title from the radio... at the time I was dating someone who was homosexual, but he wanted so hard to keep a relationship with me because he loved my personality. I got him into the song, and strangely the song always reminded me of how confused he always was.Lauren - Schertz, Tx
According to VH1's "True Spin" Michael Stipe wrote this song as a quasi-tribute to the Police's "Every Breath You Take." He was so inspired by the song that he wanted to create a song with a similar vibe. So it is about an obsession.Kc - Normal, Il
REM's biggest and most known song - by a mileRhett - Melbourne, Australia
A couple of years ago, I heard a cover of this done as a Gregorian (monk) chant, comeplete with echoes. Spooky!Keith - Slc, Ut
The video marks the first time Michael Stipe began lip syncing in their music videos.Chad - Orlando, Fl
This song had nothing to do with religion. It's about having a crush on a girl, but being at wit's end because the girl does not like you back.Epp - Pittsburgh, Pa
I've always thought this was more about emotional dependence than obsession. Quite clearly, Stipe has much more of an investment in the relationship he's describing than the object of his dependence, and while there are obsessive elements to his pursuit, he is mainly expressing his frustration about not being able to break through the emotional barriers the other person is putting up. I speak from personal experience on this, having at one time in my life fallen for a beautiful man who, though sexually expert, could not sustain an intimate relationship once out of the bedroom, and I almost lost myself in the process of trying to force this to happen. It seems that Stipe must have had a similar experience, since "Losing My Religion" so perfectly speaks of a longing that is not physical in nature, but instead expresses the desire for a deeper emotional and spiritual bond that, in spite of all effort expended, is just never going to be.Rico - Pittsburgh, Pa
The "Losing my Religion" video, directed by Tarsem Singh, is one of the most beautifully crafted pieces of homoerotica I have ever seen. Much of the imagery in the video is derived from the work of the Italian artist Carvaggio (who, incidentally, was bisexual) and the story of Saint Sebastian (in recent years, embraced as the patron saint of gays). Furthermore, Michael Stipe has been quoted in Q magazine as saying: "Am I queer? Absolutely. I have enjoyed sex with men and women throughout my life." If you listen to the song in this context, it all makes sense. It's about confessing to - or at least dropping hints about - a same-sex crush. I love it.Teresa - Fishguard, Wales
That's ok, Marvin. I thought the expression referred to masturbation...which would actually go with the crush/obsession theme.Lauren - Maryville, Mo
I know that what you other ppl have sed is probably rite nd it is about an obsession with a person, but I first heard this song wen I was 3 and I have always thought of it as someone close to the lead singer who he loves and cares about, slipping away from him and hes trying to get them back, but theyre cold to him. To me it seems as if theyve left him and he cant get them back. It is an amazing song which I have loved since I first heard.Lotty - Winchester, England
The song is about Michael Stipes obsession with the Police Song "Every Breath You Take". Saw an interview with MS and he explained the story.John - Birmingham, Al
This song is definitely about having a horrible obsessive crush on someone and them not reciprocating and the harships involved in that. Losing my Religion does mean to be at your wit's end. This song is NOT autobiographical and has nothing to do with Michael Stipe or a crush he had, especially not with someone in the video. It's probably something that everyone has felt at one time or another which is why it was such a big hit. That and the FABULOUS mandolin. Good job, Peter buck.Erin - Richmond, Va
The song is actually about obsession and people who become obsessed with others.Dan - Phoenix, Az
This song is about a crush that Michael Stipe had. The crush was on a Brunette that appeared in other REM videos. Its not about religion OR about The man that killed John LennonEvan - Shelbyville, Ky
Was actually written about stalking a love. He decided he wanted to write a love song b/c he loved the song every breath you take by the policeJon - Lincoln, Ne
It's actualy about the guy who killed John Lennon, not religion.Trevor - Nowhere, Nm
Lots of things to note. The song is about a crush. Stipe said it was about being in a conversation with someone you have a crush on and just trying to keep up with them. It's so stressful that he is "losing his religion" or is at his wits end. Lines like "oh no I said too much" are an example of the conversation. Also, the line "What if all these fantasies come flaming around? And now I said too much." was Stipes way of coming out of the closet to the world. Also, his dancing in the video, according to Stipes, is a rip-off of a Sinead O'Connor video.Matthew - New York, Ny
I always thought the expression "Losing My Religion" referred to losing ones virginity outside of marriage.Marvin - East Brady, Pa
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