This song is from one of R.E.M.’s more underrated efforts, New Adventures in Hi-Fi. As to what the song is actually about, there are many differing interpretations. That’s kind of the par for the course when it comes to R.E.M. The most frequent interpretation that I’ve seen is that Michael Stipe is singing about himself and all of the things that he wants that are unattainable. Or it could be that Michael is actually singing about all of us and saying that no one will ever get what they want. I’ve read at least one message board post that claimed that this was yet another song about the death of Kurt Cobain.
The music video was directed by Lance Bangs, who is still directing music videos to this day and who is married to Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney. Bangs was also heavily involved with MTV’s Jackass, a show that changed the culture for better or worse. Incidentally, Lance Bangs does not appear to be related to Lester Bangs.