We All Go Back to Where We Belong

Album: Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011 (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • On September 21, 2011 R.E.M. announced on their website that the band was disbanding. Simultaneously with the surprising news, it was revealed that the trio would be releasing one last album, a double-disc retrospective compiled by the band members containing three new songs. The title of the set came from a quip that guitarist Peter Buck made about the band during an interview in 1988, "R.E.M is part lies, part heart, part truth and part garbage."
  • This orchestral ballad is one of the three new songs on the collection. It was recorded after the sessions for R.E.M.'s last studio album, Collapse Into Now and was released as the band's last ever single on October 18, 2011.
  • A pair of black-and-white videos was made for the song, which were directed by Michael Stipe and Dominic DeJoseph. One stars actress Kirsten Dunst, whilst the other features poet and performance artist John Giorno.
  • The track addresses the disbanding of R.E.M. Speaking with Billboard magazine, bassist Mike Mills explained the story of the song: "As with all R.E.M. songs, guitarist Peter [Buck] and I write the music and Michael [Stipe] writes the lyrics. That's our division of labor. Some songs come out really quickly and some take a lot of work. This one was actually written on piano for [2011's] Collapse Into Now. It didn't get finished and I liked it enough that I wanted to try to work it into the retrospective. So I rewrote it and played it on guitar instead of piano. Once I got the piano off of it, Michael was re-inspired by it and found it easier to write to on guitar than piano."

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