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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 008
Thurs, Jan 24, 2013

“Fascinating”
R.E.M.

2001

“♫ Space age
party, fascinating/
I just don’t fit
in/ […] If you
just can’t speak
to me/ just throw
me a line/ give me
just a little nod/ I
could fascinate
you
♫”

Michael Stipe once said, “Sometimes before we make a record I go back and listen to a few. It’s equally humbling and uplifting.” But what happens to the songs that don’t make the album, did Michael feel regret for the songs they left behind. One R.E.M. outtake that I particular love is “Fascinating” from 2001’s Reveal Sessions.

We’re all our own movies. Let’s face it. My movie and your movie happen to be one right now, but the second that we’re apart, you’re back in your own movie— and you’re the star.” “Fascinating” is the R.E.M. song that best describes this Michael Stipe quote. “Fascinating” sounds like a space age loner song lost feeling like an intergalactic alien at a party. We’ve all been there, I remember once incident during high school, I was hanging with my good friend Roland and his girlfriend. I was a very odd guy when I was teenager with no self confidence; So there I was shyly sitting on the couch and this very cute blonde girl comes over and sits next to me. I couldn’t believe it. And in the middle of our conversation, I nervously spilled my bottled Coors light beer over the couch. At that moment, the cute blonde girl rolls her eyes and says, “I have to go mingle.” That’s what I think of when I hear “Fascinating” those moments in my life when I was literally tongue tied and felt outcast with awkwardness.

The best songs… just… come out of me, like vomit. Or like a hairball on a cat…. It lands on the table, and I look at it, and I go ‘Ok, well, that’s something.’ And then I put it with music, and it works.” But what happens to the songs that, we may love, but our left off as outtakes on the record? Ironically, Stipe’s song about alienation perfect fit ‘Fascinating” as this beautiful futuristic pop song was left off exiled from 2001’s Reveal.

Stipe originally called “Fascinating” his favorite song from the Reveal sessions as Peter Buck explained in David Buckley’s book R.E.M. Fiction, “[“Fascinating”] would have fit perfectly on the record. You do get feedback from fans and friends, and everyone thought are last too records were just too long. I tend to agree with them. When we originally sequenced [Reveal] it was another one that was 64 or 65 minutes long, and we thought, something has to go.” You will notice the space age pop meets Sgt. Pepper-esque strings on this “Fascinating” song that unfortunately didn’t fit on Reveal. Mike Mills agreed with Buck’s assessment when he said, “It’s really beautiful. It has a flute, oboe arrangement but it made the record too long and too slow in the middle and something had to go.”

Sometimes the best songs from our favorite bands never make the cut. R.E.M.’s “Fascinating” is one of those songs. It may not have fit in 2001, but with one spin this R.E.M. will Reveal some Stipe’s “Fascinating” lyrics remain glimpses of a teenage life we will never be able to leave behind. Go back to the past with this R.E.M. treasure, I guarantee you will be fascinated.

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