"Losing My Religion" is a song by R.E.M. which is a Southern expression meaning "At my wit's end," as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. If you were "Losing your religion" over a person, It could also mean losing faith in that person. (thanks, doug - chicago, IL)
Stipe told Rolling Stone magazine: "I wanted to write a classic obsession song. So I did." In addition to calling it a song about "obsession," Stipe has also referred to it as a song about "unrequited love" in which all actions and words of the object of your obsession are scrubbed for hidden meaning and hopeful signs. The lyrics pretty clearly support this: "I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try." (thanks, Redstar - Redding, CT)
The video is based in part on Gabriel Garcia Marquez' A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. The novel tells the story about an angel who falls down from heaven and how the people who make money displaying him as a "freak show." Michael Stipe is a big Marquez fan and the whole idea of obsession and unrequited love is the central theme of the author's masterpiece, Love in the Time of Cholera. The first line of the novel: "It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." (thanks, Gabriela - Santiago, Chile)
The band claims this is not about religion, although the video is full of religious imagery. Some Catholic groups protested the video.
In 2003, Stipe told Entertainment Weekly, "Losing My Religion was a fluke hit. It was a 5 minute song with no chorus and a mandolin as the lead instrument. So for us to hold that as the bar we have to jump over every time we write a song would be ridiculous."
This won the Grammy in 1991 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The video was the first to show lead singer Michael Stipe dancing. The director hung out with the band to get ideas, and when he saw Stipe's spastic dance style, he thought it would look great in the video.
This song has its origins in guitarist Peter Buck's efforts to try learn to play the mandolin. When he played back recordings of his first attempts, he heard the riff and thought it might make a good basis for a song.
This was given the working title of "Sugar Cane" when the band demoed it in July 1990 at a studio in Athens.