Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Country Feedback

Song: Country Feedback
Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Out of Time

On their 2003 tour, R.E.M. put a poll up on their website on which song they should play for each date of the tour, giving fans a pick of one song in the set. Surprising to the band (and well… me) was the fact that every single night the fans chose “Country Feedback,” and album track from 1991’s “Out of Time.” And chose the song over all other R.E.M. songs 2:1.

What interests me about this is the fact that it is an album track, never a single, and an odd tune to boot. Sure, “Erotic City” is probably well known to the majority of Prince fans as an unreleased (until the release of the bootlegged “Black Album”) classic, and peppy “should have been a single” songs do find themselves as fan favorites, but “Country Feedback” is a slow, durgy, song with seemingly non-sensical lyrics like “”You come to me with the phone in your hand, you come to me with your hair curled tight,” “A paper weight, junk garage, winter rain, a honey pot. Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged,” and my favorite; “Self help, self pain, EST, psychics, fuck all.” Okay.

Truth is… I have no idea what he’s talking about in this song… but I do love it. There is something about the feeling I get when I hear this song… the open ended lyrics only seem to enhance it. And with a repeated line like “It’s crazy what you could have had” you just insert whatever is happening in your life. I don’t know why it’s called “Country Feedback” as it is never said in the song yet… it works. Michael Stipe is a poet, and sometimes the meaning of his songs are best read into by the listener. All I knew was then when I traveled cross-country with two of my best friends a couple years ago I needed to hear this song while driving through the desert. And loud. I did so, and have that dry road rushing by in my mind every time I hear it.


In this live performance of the song Michael says “We’re going to do this one because it’s my favorite.”

1 comment:

Trent said...

Never saw them live at the time, but I do remember this as a highlight from the MTV Unplugged appearance at the time.

I think the appeal of this song has to do with the overall vibe rather than the lyrics. Who knows what Stipe means on most REM songs?

BTW - Prince's "Erotic City" was the flip side to the "Let's Go Crazy" single & did get considerable airplay in NYC at the time. It was basically a 2-sided hit here. The offending "fucks" were covered by an extra synthesized drumbeat, which made it kinda cooler.