One, two, three, four
Oh
This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes
These clothes don't fit us right
I'm to blame
It's all the same
It's all the same

You come to me with a bone in your hand
You come to me with your hair curled tight
You come to me with positions
You come to me with excuses
Ducked out in a row
You wear me out
You wear me out

We've been through fake-a-breakdown
Self hurt
Plastics, collections
Self help, self pain,
EST, psychics, fuck all
I was central
I had control
I lost my head
I need this
I need this
A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot
Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged
A hotline, a wanted add
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
I need this
I need this
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
I need this
I need this
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
I need this
I, I need this
It's crazy what you could've had
I need this, I need this
It's crazy what you could've had
Crazy what you could've had
I need this
I need this

Crazy what you could've had
Crazy what you could've had


Lyrics submitted by Nelly, edited by JenniStern

Country Feedback Lyrics as written by Peter Lawrence Buck William Thomas Berry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Country Feedback song meanings
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47 Comments

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  • +11
    General Comment

    The title "Country Feedback" makes me think of that old joke, "What happens when you play country music backwards? You get your wife back, your kids back, your house back..." I'm thinking Country Feedback is what happens when you take a country song about a supposedly no-good spouse or lover that done up and left, and give them a song to tell their side of the story. Either way it's clearly about a relationship that, in the eyes of the singer, is beyond saving.

    The scorched flower is the passion that has died, and the film's maddening loop is the perpetual rut of the decaying relationship. The clothes that don't fit us right are the roles the two are trying to play, the act of a sham marriage. And of course, according to the spouse/lover (and possibly their country song), they did nothing wrong and everything is his fault. He's getting worn out by his lover always having a bone to pick, always being way too uptight, and having all kinds of positions and excuses why they're doing everything right and he's the one ruining their relationship.

    But they've been through all this shit in the course of trying to save the relationship, and nothing's worked. When he sings "I need this," he means a breakup or divorce.

    When I thought "winter rain" was actually "wedding ring" I had this clever idea that the line was saying his wedding ring was as good as a paperweight, and that his wife's honey pot was as good as a junk garage, but now that I know better I'm not sure what the line means.

    It's crazy how good you could have had it if only you had treated me right and not been so selfish, the song says at the end, but it's too late now and I need to let this failed relationship go.

    dxyseilcon June 29, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Michael Stipe improvises lyrics overtop a desolate, aching chord structure while Peter Buck commands very Neil Young like feedback as accents on certain emotional phrases. This is a tone poem more than a song and has meant a lot to me since the day I broke down acheiving my first musical catharsis. I played this song over and over when I was 15 while my mother was in surgery for breast cancer and my Uncle Fred was being buried after a long fight with brain cancer including many strokes along the way. As Stipe pleads "I NEED THIS" I knew that I did too.

    President Machoon December 19, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I think that interpretation of the "bone in your hand" has more to do with a metaphor for having nothing more to bring to the relationship. A bone is a meatless, and when you come with a bone in your hand there is nothing there to give.

    Great song though, especially for those of us who have gotten out of bad relationships that we spent way too much energy trying to save.

    jmaguireon November 11, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    IMO, the writer (Stipe) is not claiming all of the blame, for the failed marriage or destruction of the relationship, which is clearly what the song is about.

    "these clothes don't fit us right ... "

    Clearly, as one said, either the clothes they were married in don't fit them anymore OR possibly just the clothes they both wore when they were younger, or metaphorically this could also represent the cloth or fabric of the relationship, which composes the relationship's "clothing"

    Regardless, Stipe is completely assigning blame as well, though he claims he's to blame ... a typical exaggeration when you're trying to soft pedal a tough message. His blame is shrouded slightly, but pointed ....

    "You come to me with a bone in your hand" ,,, His lover always comes to him with some sort of BONE to pick with him. (He never does anything right or she is never happy, in other words).

    Then, he follows with "you come to me with your hair curled tight." which can only be taken as meaning that he feels his lover is always too uptight about everything, as in, "did you curl you hair too tight or what?"

    Then, it's all cemented by his next comments, revealing that his lover ALSO, always comes to him with his/her positions and excuses for everything, "all ducked out in a row" (perfectly laid out and ordered), finishing with, "You wear me out, you wear me out."

    Finally, after rambling through everything they've been through to fix the broken marriage, he can only summarize by uttering, "Fuck All"

    Lastly, the live version is a treat to have the opportunity to hear and if you can find it, R.E.M. played a live version at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit a few years ago and Mr. Young came up on stage and stroked the struts with Peter Buck for the whole song, which is simply amazing. It's fairly available online in various places and shouldn't be missed.

    Peace (& R.E.M.)

    glazeon February 11, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song is littered with methaphors that could mean anything. This song has meant so many things to me at so many times. Songs like this last forever, and this is easily my favorite song, ever.

    In the grand scale of things, I think the meaning is fairly obvious, and can be summed up quite well in the last two lines:

    "It's crazy what you could've had" = I have so much left still to offer "I need this" = I am a little bit desperate and lost

    Two people have fallen out of love (gay or otherwise, anyone can relate to this song). The flower is scorched and the film is on a maddening loop. "Clothes" is a really vague metaphor suggesting that "this" doesn't fit any more. Whoever is to blame, it's all the same... it's all the same.

    I don't know what the bone in hand is, but there are a few good thoughts here. To me, the curled hair and positions are attempts at rekindling love. Curled hair reminds me of prettying oneself up, and I always think of sexual posisitons (which I think is what he intended). But then that person comes to him with excuses, all neat and tidy and far too perfect - and he's worn out with it.

    They've been through all these things trying to make it work - and nothing, "fuck all". He had control at some point but he lost it and doesn't know when, but he's starting to become a little desperate. He's come to depend on this disfunctional relationship, and he doesn't know how to let go.

    The methaphors get even more vague from here, but it geels kind of like a garage sales of lover's memories. He's longing for for that person, or at least what they represent.

    And finally he just wails on about how it's coming to and end, but the other person doesn't realize what it means to him. There's so much love he had to offer...

    I very somber song for those times in your life when you feel like everything failling apart and/or nobody seems to appreciate you. Or when you're so desperate for something that can not be.

    --J

    jaminvon March 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    i really think this is one of my favorite rem songs. i dont know exactly what hes talking about, but i interpret it my own way it really touches me

    sepronon September 24, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    One of my absolute favorite, too. I had this on repeat play for about 4 days, at one point. I'm messed up. I know.

    Rosannon September 28, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think it's about some guy who's gone and made a mistake with his lover, and now they're not together anymore and they're both pretty depressed and very bitter (these clothes don't fit us right). The person singing desperately wants things to be like they once used to, but it appears that just cannot be: many things were tried to fix the relationship but it just isn't going to be like it used to (self help, self pain, EST, psychics). The person singing realises it's all his fault, and the song just ends in this lamentation of what he could have had, and knows it's all his fault. It's a very depressing song. On the road movie dvd they play this live. It's amazing on there because Michael Stipe gets down on his knees once he's stopped singing, and the guitar keeps going, and it as this really wailing/painful sound which helps carry the song's emotion perfectly.

    jc499on October 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Stipe invariably tells the audience that this is his favorite song. He wants us to look closer at it. And the lyrics are obviously break-up stuff, to be sure, but I am also of the opinion that Michael is referring to his own sexuality when he sings this one.

    jasonwentcrazyon December 23, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I see this as the dissolution of a long-time relationship. Obviously one where the hopes for the future are still vivid and difficult to give up, yet utterly confounded by reality. "These clothes.." line I relate to in that, often when relationships are close to an end, people are mean, angry, desperate, dramatic..emotions they wouldn't wear in happier days. It seems like his partner is trying to distance themself (come to me with excuses) and he has tried all sort of angles to rectify this, which ultimately puts the final nails in the coffin as the line between allowing space and having an existing relationship is so thin. I like that you cacn interpret "I need this" as either he needs the relationship, or the person, or he needs to leave the relationship or the person.

    I always thought winter rain was wedding ring, and fuck all was fuck off. It is better as fuck off.

    tarantula33on April 13, 2007   Link

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