Micahel Stipe said on the Austin City Limits program (first aired 5/24/2008) prior to singing Electrolite: "This next song is our little valentine to the 20th century and I'm so personally thrilled to be in the 21st century right now, cos the 20th century offered some really great stuff but it offered some really not great stuff."
Suggestion credit: Nigel - Plano, TX
When R.E.M. performed this at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, on May 29, 2008, Stipe said: "There's a funny story about this song. I thought it was not good enough to go on a record, and Peter and Mike convinced me otherwise. They were right, and now it's one of my favorite songs. The song for me embodies the time I was living in Santa Monica for a couple of years. Every now and then I would go on one of those late night drives when there's no traffic. We'd climb up into the hills, go up Mulholland and think about the people that have come to this beautiful city." Stipe was referring to Mulholland Drive, which goes through Santa Monica and Hollywood. Tom Petty sang about the road in his song "Free Fallin'."
Mike Mills wrote the music for this song on a piano at his then-girlfriend's apartment in Chicago, he recalled in the liner notes for Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage.
Peter Care and Spike Jonze directed the music video for this at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles where Robert Kennedy was killed. "That place was spooky," Stipe said. The opening scenes are shot upside down as Stipe performs the song among rubber reindeer, while various people are shown tethered to poles, trash cans, and vehicles throughout the city by lengths of chains.
The lyrics of this song reference Martin Sheen. Stipe made sure the actor wasn't offended by the casual name-check ... while he was having dental work done. He told VH1 Storytellers:
"I had a dentist in Los Angeles, who was also a dentist to Martin Sheen, and Martin Sheen was in the dentist's chair, getting his tooth drilled, when I went up to him and said, 'We have a record coming out in a couple of weeks and you're mentioned in one of the songs, and I just want you to know that it's honoring you; I don't want you to think that we're making fun of you.' And he was saying [impression of Sheen speaking with the dentist working on his mouth] 'Thank you very much!'. He was very nice about it."
Karl from Ingatestone, United Kingdomi have seen this on Nevermind The Buzzcocks where Rick Wakeman and Bill Bailey speak about REM guitarist Peter Buck's air rage. but, for me, this is a great REM song