R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe Says Bob Dylan And Neil Young Sing Out Of Tune

During an interview with LA Times, Michael Stipe stated that Bob Dylan and Neil Young sang out of tune while giving examples of musicians who are legendary but sing out of tune.

Stipe reached high recognition in the music industry with his career in R.E.M. and has influenced many important figures in the rock scene since 1980. Some of those icons were Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and U2’s Bono.

However, he also had to be inspired by someone. In his recent conversation, the musician revealed that his favorite band was Velvet Underground. With R.E.M, he released three covers of Velvet Underground, featured in their album ‘Dead Letter Office.’ Recently, Stipe covered the song ‘Sunday Morning,’ originally sung by Nico, and released it in July 2021.

While talking about the song, the interviewer noted that Nico was sometimes out of tune and not pitch-perfect. To answer that, Stipe gave more singers that sing off-tune as examples, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and started to comment on them. According to Michael, the ‘raw beauty’ of their unique singing is the feature that makes them appealing to their listeners.

Here is what he stated when the interviewer claimed that Nico was out of tune:

“Well, I mean, so did Dylan, Neil Young. Linda Hopper from Magnapop — she was the first singer from my younger sister Lynda Stipe’s band. Oh okay. So did Vanessa Briscoe of Pylon. Cindy Wilson from the B-52’s sings a little flat, and that adenoidal, raw beauty is a huge part of her appeal as a singer. It lends a humanity to the performance that you’re not going to get with a professional singer who hits every note.

Nico, singing with her German accent over the cacophony of Lou going in one direction and John Cale going in the other, and both of them kind of agreeing that this is going to work, it created this friction that bristled with energy and excitement.

Art is created by the artist and interpreted by the audience. In this case, the singers who don’t sing perfectly might be loved and appreciated more because they are trying to communicate a feeling rather than hitting every note. Stipe is one of those who admire the art when it is ‘faulty,’ and perhaps it is the right thing to do considering his success with R.E.M.