"Losing My Faith": what R.E.M.'s biggest hit is really about.

Today the song is a trademark of "R.E.M.". It's hard to believe that in 1991 the producers almost rejected this masterpiece.

R.E.M. "Losing My Religion" (1991) - song recording, lyrics meaning, cover versions

"Losing My Religion" - smash hit "R.E.M." The composition was released as a single from the album "Out of Time." in winter 1991 of the year. Due to the unusual arrangement with mandolin motifs, the producers did not believe in the success of the track, but for nothing: "Losing My Religion" was often played on the radio, and the gorgeous music video contributed to its popularity. As a result, the song became the biggest hit for the band in the USA, and in 1992 it even won two Grammy Awards! But under what circumstances was this masterpiece born and what does its name really mean? We offer to find out together.

History of creation, recording

R.E.M. Group.
R.E.M. Group.

Many listeners remembered this composition thanks to its extravagant sound, in which guitar and mandolin harmoniously merge. And it was this sound that almost doomed the song to failure. History "Losing My Religion" began when guitarist and co-founder "R.E.M." Peter Buck decided to discover a new instrument. Legend has it that he improvised with a mandolin for a long time and recorded his results on a tape recorder. The next morning the musician listened to the recordings and realised that he had in his hands a ready sketch of a melody for a future hit.

The track was recorded in New York. And while the vocals only needed one take, the bassist Mike Mills It took him a long time to come up with something original, and in the end he was inspired by the game. Jonah McVie of "Fleetwood Mac.". The track also featured an organ, but this was later replaced with classical symphony orchestra notes.

R.E.M. Group.
R.E.M. Group.

Sound "Losing My Religion" was quite unusual, and the label didn't like it. Fortunately, the band managed to insist and the song was released as a single. Although from the outside. "Warner." and certain conditions were imposed: at first the song was played only on small radio stations before it was allowed to "float" on major radio waves.

The meaning of the title and lyrics

Michael Stipe as a young man
Michael Stipe as a young man

When "Losing My Religion" saw the light of day, many people thought it was a tribute to the dead Beatle John Lennon. And some people even found references to AIDS. But in fact it is a song about unrequited love. The author of the lyrics said in an interview Michael Stipe:

"Where I grew up, the phrase "Losing My Religion" means "losing my patience." That's what they say in those parts when they want to put an end to something or are on the verge of it. And the hero of the song sings about that, about his hopeless love..."

Music video

The gorgeous clip was directed by a director Tarsem Singh. He would later admit that the work was inspired by one of the stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Singh obviously also drew inspiration from the Italian painter Caravaggio. In addition, the video sequence is full of references to religious imagery.

The clip was incredibly successful on the MTV: he was nominated for nine awards and as a result won several awards, including "Video of the Year.". As of 2021, its YouTube views are more than . 900 million!


Over the years, the popularity of the composition has only grown. As a result, many performers and talented enthusiasts have presented their interpretations on the "Losing My Religion". Especially the song is a success among alternative and metal bands. We suggest you personally enjoy the most interesting cover versions.

Interesting facts

  • "Losing My Religion" was a huge success. The song was included in the list of "500 songs that shaped rock'n'roll", and it was thanks to it that the album itself topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and sold more than 500 copies. over 18 million copies all over the world.
  • The track was recorded with guest musicians, including an entire symphony Atlanta Orchestra.

  • Despite the fact that the songwriter himself explained its meaning in an interview, fans to this day try to find in the "Losing My Religion" a secret meaning. For example, some believe that Michael Stipe sings about himself in this heartfelt hit.
  • Today, the song is a trademark "R.E.M.". It's hard to believe that back in 1991 the producers almost rejected this masterpiece.


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