Much of what I have read about the video to Uberlin seems to be of utter disgust from many fans. Before I saw the video, and just listened to the song, I was always having a problem getting around the lyrics to the song which in my opinion felt very self-absorbed.
Coming again from my own opinion, if you see me walking around the city of Chicago there are typically two earbuds (not Apple mind you) and a selection of tracks being listened to. I have to say that there is some excitement to listen to music and let go and see what is going on around me. For me it’s always the amazement of walking down the city streets late at night and listening to Yo La Tengo or the lakefront on a Summer evening listening to Up.
But while there has been a great deal of admiration for the song, for me I have not been able to get my head around it because it felt in many cases self-absorbed in itself. While I can stare from time to time and daydream it was not a song that initially “Hit” me but rather accepted it for what it was, give it a satisfactory grade and move on.
The video, ‘however’ seems to convey the same feeling that I did, an individual dancing along the city streets without any clue as to what was on around him and somehow I find that a bit sad. Because if the intent or arc of this song is to comment about the sad nature of living within our own selfish thoughts then it would be something that is difficult to find putting this on repeat.
I compare this with another song, The Beatles, ‘A Day in the Life’ which is much more complex in its orchestration showing differing viewpoints, with the McCartney section being a blueprint for this song. Outside of the pieces of this song compiled together it creates a unique complexity of a person being heavily influenced by a news story and one totally absorbed in their daily routine not to see anything or anyone.
If Stipe’s meaning of this song is to make a social commentary about being lost in our brains I guess I find some people out there questioning the video’s intent. If people do not like what they are seeing and the song is being ruined for them, did they listen to what Stipe was saying?
Coming from my own point of view, it is something that I mentioned about what this album’s audience seems to be and that is about those that are ignorant to the world around them.
This song is Stipe’s moment ironic moment for those that love the song and hate the video for Stipe to plaintively state to them: “Well, that person in the video is you”.