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R.E.M. - The One I Love (1987)

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  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.32
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"The One I Love" is a song by American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released on the band's fifth full-length studio ...

"The One I Love" is a song by American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released on the band's fifth full-length studio album, Document, and also as a 7" vinyl single in 1987. The song was their first hit single, reaching No. 9 in the US Billboard Hot 100, No. 14 in Canada, and later reached No. 16 in the UK singles chart on its UK re-release (1991).

The record has become a popular radio dedication to loved ones, relying on a misinterpretation of its refrain, "This one goes out to the one I love." However, subsequent lyrics in the same verse contradict the love song interpretation and suggest a darker, more manipulative theme ("A simple prop to occupy my time").

Stipe related in 1987 to Rolling Stone, "I've always left myself pretty open to interpretation. It's probably better that they just think it's a love song at this point." However, in an interview in the January 1988 issue of Musician magazine, he said that the song was "incredibly violent" and added, "It's very clear that it's about using people over and over again".

The song contains only three verses, the first two of which are identical; the third verse changes the line "A simple prop to occupy my time" to "Another prop has occupied my time." The chorus consists of just the word "fire", repeated over the backing vocal of "She's coming down on her own now / Coming down on her own" (sung by Mike Mills).

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