Flashback Friday: “Losing My Religion” by REM

Sometimes I feel like I’m turning into an old crotchety parent. I’m 31, but I routinely listen to music from the last 5 decades. My daughter Rosie is growing up faster than I can deal with, and recently she told me that she doesn’t always want to listen to my usual radio station.

I stopped breathing for a moment. I thought I was a cool mom listening to cool music.

My parents stopped listening to most of the latest stuff when I was a kid, opting to ignore the pop/punk/new wave of the 80’s and stick with their mellow 70’s singer/songwriters. I love the 70’s singer/songwriters, don’t get me wrong. My parents always seemed to humor me with a few songs from my station before going back to their cassette tapes of James Taylor, America, Carole King, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. But around the time I was 11, I definitely had acquired my own unique taste in music. It appears that with my daughter, this has come full circle.

Since my musical tastes evolved so much around the time I was Rosie’s age, I decided to share these songs and stories with her. And because I don’t want to forget my early memories of how these songs affected my life, I’ve decided to do a “Flashback” series of posts about music that made a profound impact on me.

After I got past my tweenage obsession with New Kids On The Block, I started to listen to more “alternative pop.” When I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d sneak downstairs to watch videos on VH1 and MTV (back when they focused on music videos, not reality tv.) There were two videos that made lasting impact on me – Tori Amos’ “Silent All These Years” and R.E.M.’s “Losing my Religion.”

R.E.M’s “Out of Time” album was released in 1991, and “Losing My Religion” was their top hit on the album. Previously, most of REM’s radio airplay was done on campus radio stations. “Losing My Religion” launched this alternative rock band into mainstream radio. It was critically acclaimed for their stark and somewhat sacrilegious imagery. However, the phrase “losing my religion” is slang in the southern United States for losing one’s temper or civility. When you get mad, you sometimes lose your religion.

The catchy E minor, A minor, D and G chord structure combined with a folksy mandolin riff and Michael Stipe’s distinct voice became REM’s most popular hit in the US. And it’s my favorite song off of “Out of Time.”

And it’s a song my daughter thinks is pretty cool, even though it came out when I was her age.

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