Michael Stipe (from Pitchfork Media): "That song presents my dream world, which is way different from my waking world. It's set in the future and it's post-apocalyptic. Everything is falling apart and it's all put together again, propped up with 2x4s and held together with Scotch tape and superglue. The artwork for the record is kind of an homage to that. It's a collage, which rhymes with homage, I just realized. It's an homage to this kind of almost like a teenager's idea of what the future might look like, if he were using a Xerox machine and cut-and-pasting it together. Which is exactly what we did to come up with the artwork.
So the song 'Sing for the Submarine'... I actually made it up. It's not from my dreams, but it's placed in that dream world. The older R.E.M. songs in there - it's like a legend on a map to all the other songs in our catalog or some of the other songs in our catalog that also come from my dream world. And although they're not autobiographical - because I don't write like that - for me it's a pretty familiar place. By writing a song and referencing these other, older songs I'm creating for anyone who cares a legend to where the inspiration for these lyrics and these ideas came from, and also admitting, or kind of outing myself, in terms of that part of my consciousness that comes from my dreams, which is set in the future. It's a post-apocalyptic future, but it's not frightening. It's not scary. I think a lot of people probably inhabit that same universe. I look at other writers or filmmakers particularly-- a handful of photographers, but a lot of filmmakers who do science fiction work or what have you - seem to inhabit that same dream world, so I don't feel that alone. I've talked to a few people in my life who've said they've had similar experiences. It's going back to when I was a child that all my dreams are set in this destroyed future, but I'm fortunate that it's not a frightening place or a scary place. It just is what it is.
That's where 'Feeling Gravity's Pull' (from 1985 album Fables of the Reconstruction) came from. That's where 'Electron Blue' (from 2005 album Around The Sun) came from - electron blue being a drug that's made out of light. 'Sing for the Submarine' is about a guy who in fact has gone so deep into this almost neurotic state that he's imagined a way to escape from the city with his loved one in the event of some cataclysmic event. And that escape route is by way of a submarine that is fueled by melody. And that creates the template for the song."