Country Feedback

Album: Out Of Time (1991)


  • If you listen closely to the lyrics at the end: "It's crazy what you could've had," it can sound like "It's crazy what you couldn't have." (Apparently Michael Stipe sometimes simply makes up or distorts lyrics, which he does to great effect here). The feeling of these final lyrics gives some indication of the sense of desolation that pervades this song in almost every lyric and chord. It's about repetition in life and love, about failed relationships: "We've been through fake breakdown, self hurt, self help." It's on a continuous "maddening" loop, "feedback," and no matter how much you analyze a bad relationship with the aim to improving things, you just repeat the same things endlessly. "Junk Garage" is imagery of something discarded and worthless. "This flower is scorched" is an image of love (flower, a traditional symbol of love) which has been sullied. There is also some sexual imagery of "Honey Pot" which is an alluring, sexual attraction but ultimately unwanted. The "Paper Weight" is holding down something flimsy, again emphasizing the lack of substance to the relationship. "Plastic" emphasizes the artificiality of the relationship. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gus - London, England
  • Michael Stipe told Q magazine in 1992: "It's a love song, but it's certainly from the uglier side. It's pretty much about having given up on a relationship."
  • Peter Buck recalled to the recording of this track in a 2008 Rolling Stone interview: "'Country Feedback' - I thought that was a demo. Michael (Stipe) just sang it once. It was a letter he wrote to someone but didn't send. He just sang it."
  • On R.E.M.'s 2001 Perfect Square concert DVD, Michael Stipe says, "this is my favorite song of all time." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Hamilton, ON
  • In an interview with the August 2010 edition of Uncut magazine, Kurt Cobain widow and Hole vocalist Courtney Love claimed this is one of two songs that Stipe wrote about her. She said: "I know 'Country Feedback' and 'Crush With Eyeliner' are about me. The line from Country Feedback: 'We've been through fake-a-breakdown/ Self Hurt/Plastics, collections/ Self Help, self pain/ EST, psychics, f--k all,' Michael (Stipe) talked me through that."
  • In the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, Bill Berry also calls this one of his favorite R.E.M. songs, adding "I think it wonderfully peculiar that this, somewhat gloomy dirge surfaced in a body of work that also included 'Shiny Happy People.'"
  • This was featured in the 1996 romantic drama Unhook the Stars, starring Marisa Tomei and Gena Rowlands.

Comments: 10

  • Adam from Copenhagen, DenmarkI love the version of the song live from Wiesbaden, Germany from 2003. For it's intensity and beauty. It was included on the bonus disc with rarities and b-sides on the Best of R.E.M. In Time album. That live version is my favorite R.E.M. song of all time.
  • Ekristheh from HalathThis was assembled in a practice session and initially intended as a demo. It was based on a chord progression Peter Buck was experimenting with. After various tracks were recorded, Michael Stipe sang the lyrics. He had written a rough draft but was really making up the words as he went along. It was so good they decided to use the demo as the finished track.

    This is called Country Feedback because it uses country and feedback style overdubs.
  • Anthony from Niles, OhVomit or not, this is a wonderfully crafted song all around. One of the best in the REM catalogue. Stipe couldn't have conveyed the emotions behind this song any better. The singer is in a bad co-dependent relationship where the dominant partner has grown bored with the submissive one, who is worn out and at his witts end trying to re-gain the other's interest, often with superfulous material gifts. Peter Buck's accompaniment on this number is hauntingly good.
  • Brad from Lexington, KyI agree with Michael that this is the single greatest R.E.M. song ever recorded.
  • Warwick from London, EnglandI echo previous comments that AFAIK this is Stipey's favourite song. The live acoustic version that Ekristheh refers to is amazing, with an awesome 90 second solo by Peter Buck at the end. The song ends with Michael saying, "Peter Buck! How 'bout that?"
  • Pete from Barnstaple, EnglandThis is what R.E.M are all about. Never mind singles sales, never mind chart positions, Michael Stipe sings so eloquently and so honestly on this song, it makes me well up every time I hear it. Pete, Barnstaple.
  • Paul from Redditch, EnglandMichael Stipe said at various concerts, mainly on the "monster tour", that this was his favourite song! The live versions of this are certainly without equal.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesR.E.M. played an acoustic version of this with Neil Young on second guitar at the 1998 Bridge School benefit concert. Peter said they chose this to play with Neil because it is slow and reflects Neil's personal, emotional style. This heartfelt performance has assumed legendary status among fans and tape traders.
  • Mandy from Smalltown, NyIn response to Billy's comment, I have to admit that although I never knew that fact about this song, it doesn't surprise me. I've always loved when Stipe sings "I need this. I need this." because you can literally hear the emotion in the word 'need'. It's raw, and your explanation of this song only makes me love it more.
  • Billy from Liverpool, EnglandVarious sources, including Michael Stipe, refer to this as a "vomit song" - that is, an occassion where he just sung away and let whatever he had inside of him spill out onto tape.
    Peter Buck quite famously recalled that, at the time of recording, M
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