Michael Stipe talking about "Automatic For the People" - What songs does he hate?

I watched an interview with Michael Stipe in which he admitted that he was very proud of REM’s album ‘Automatic For the People’ except for two songs that he apparently hates.

He did not name the songs, though. He said he would not identify them because they might mean something special to someone and he did not want to tarnish that.

I think the album is brilliant with nary a stinker. I’m guessing perhaps he is not fond of the instrumental cut, and perhaps Everybody Hurts (?) I am just guessing, though.

Anyone have any insight?

I’d guess one is The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight. Peter Buck has said that they included it to “break the prevailing mood of the album” and provide some levity, but in retrospect the band consensus was that it was too lightweight.

For the other, I’d hope it’s Nightswimming, because that song just annoys me for some reason. It sounds cheesy and formulaic. I could see Everybody Hurts being a sore spot for Stipe given the subject matter. It’s about suicide, and 2 years later Kurt Cobain, a close friend, killed himself (and was the subject of Let Me In from Monster).

Other points in favor of Sidewinder and Everybody Hurts are their popularity at the time. Stipe said he hates nostalgia, so he probably looks back at the most popular songs with less love.

I’m guessing one of them is Everybody Hurts, which is just formulaic and bland and lyrically atrocious.

Interesting about ‘Sidewinder’, I think it’s awesome.

As for ‘Nightswimming’, Mike Mills was also interviewed with Stipe. Mills said that he often kicks back and cranks up the last three songs of Automatic, that he never tires of them. That would be ‘Man in the Moon’, ‘Nightswimming’, and ‘Find the River’.

Yeah, I gotta believe ‘Hurts’ is one of them. Particularly since Stipe mentioned that the tunes he dislikes are special to a lot of fans.

One more note: It’s definitely not ‘Man in the Moon’. Stipe indicated he is very proud of that one and, in fact, chose that as the song to play at his memorial service when that question was asked.


I hope it’s not Nightswimming, which is my favorite REM song and one of my favorite songs, period.

Seconded. I’ve listened to that song hundreds of times over the past 25 years, and it kills me every time. “I’m not sure all these people understand…”

I can’t imagine it’s Nightswimming. I would assume Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight and probably Everybody Hurts.