Michael Stipe Explains What Inspired R.E.M.’s ‘Losing My Religion’

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe spoke in a recent interview with The New Yorker and talked about the story behind the lyrics of ‘Losing My Religion.’

‘Losing My Religion’ is a world-famous song that was released in February 1991. It was the first single of the band’s seventh studio album, ‘Out of Time.’ Also, the song has remained R.E.M.’s highest-charting hit to this day. The song peaked No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and won ‘Best Short Form Music Video’ and ‘Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal’ during Grammy Awards in 1992.

In the conversation, Michael admitted that they didn’t expect ‘Losing My Religion’ to be such a great hit and revealed the story behind the uncommon phrases used in the song. As Michael said, at some point, he realized that none of his friends from the South understood his grandmother’s way of speaking, and he wanted to use some of her phrases in the lyrics.

While showing how much his grandmother inspired him, Michael also revealed the true meaning of ‘Losing My Religion’ and stated that it actually comes from an old phrase ‘lost my religion,’ which he changed into the way it is used right now.

Michael Stipe talked about their greatest hit in the interview:

“I wasn’t actually raised in Georgia. I was born there; I traveled a great deal. I didn’t realize that my grandmother, the way she talked – my friends who were not from the South had no idea what she was saying. None, and there are phrases that I pulled.

‘Losing My Religion’ is my version of an old phrase, ‘lost my religion’ or ‘I almost lost my religion’ – that’s what people would say. I changed it forever. I didn’t realise it would be a hit single.”

You can listen to the song below.