Hate isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite. But I suppose the intent of the challenge is to spark a discussion of a song that you used to enjoy, and now can’t stand to hear.
I can’t think of a song that is quite as polar as love & hate. But, back in the day when R.E.M. were first starting to break out into the mainstream, their single “Losing My Religion” was all over the radio. Since I didn’t grow up in a college town, or have university-aged relatives, or even listen to a university radio station, I didn’t know who R.E.M. were until around the time that 1991’s Out of Time album topped the charts. Exploring them in reverse, from 1991 back to the beginning, was loads of fun. I want to explore that idea in a future post.
I remember hearing “Losing My Religion” on rock and Top 40 radio back in the day. Didn’t hear it a lot, not with the monstrous Guns ‘n’ Roses ruling the rock music world, while Nirvana waited in the wings to usurp their throne. But, like a lot of people, I took notice of the song for having a catchy melody, well-recorded drums, and a cool X-factor. It was very unusual to hear a mandolin carry the melody in a pop-rock radio hit. It still sounds a little weird today, but consider what a mandolin-driven song would have sounded like in the Billboard world of mid-2001. When Out of Time was at #1, the top 10 albums included entries from Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, C+C Music Factory, The Black Crowes, and Wilson Phillips. ‘Out of time’, indeed.
I won’t dispute that “Losing My Religion” was important for R.E.M.’s career. I’m sure that song paid a lot of bills over the years. The problem is, I’ve heard it so many times that I just can’t stand it any more. It’s on Out of Time. It’s on the b-side of various singles. I’ve got two copies of the In Time greatest hits collection (the 2CD version and the SACD version) – it’s on both of those. It’s on the Austin City Limits DVD. It’s on the Perfect Square DVD. It’s on the R.E.M. Live album. They played it at all four R.E.M. gigs I was lucky enough to see in person (Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Burnaby). It will be on the forthcoming Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage anthology. Enough already.
I remember there was a bit of commotion when the Live at the Olympia album came out and “Losing My Religion” wasn’t on it. I have to think that the band was just as sick of playing it as I was of hearing it. Just because you love pizza doesn’t mean you want to eat pizza every damn day. Mix it up a little, have some sushi or a green curry from time to time. There are some wicked, long-lost gems on Live at the Olympia, like “Cuyahoga”, “Sitting Still”, and “Kohoutek”. They are all far more fulfilling than yet another slice of pizza.
I can’t say that I hate “Losing My Religion”. But I’m totally fine if I never, ever hear it again.