From The Boston Globe
... Sorry if this was posted somewhere else already, I'm too lazy to check.
February 7, 2006
If you saw ''Grey's Anatomy" after the Super Bowl, you heard ''In the Sun," a song Michael Stipe (right) is releasing this week to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The R.E.M. singer is such a fan of the Joseph Arthur ballad that he's actually releasing six versions of it with special guests including Coldplay's Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake, will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas, Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. (The songs are available exclusively at iTunes with all proceeds going to Mercy Corps.) Yesterday, Stipe, whose band is on hiatus after wrapping up a world tour, conducted a conference call with the media to talk about his unique response to what Katrina wrought. This is a heavily edited transcript of the hourlong conversation.
Q. Why six versions of the same song?
A. I really like the song, and I really like the message. I started working with James Iha, and then people started jumping on board.
Q. What is it about this particular song?
A. That's a difficult question to answer. Music has an emotional resonance for me. Perhaps because I knew the song before Katrina, and it meant one thing to me, and then afterward it meant something completely different.
Q. What is it you're hoping to do with this?
A. There's been so little done to help these people. I like to put forth the idea that we, as a country, represent a great dream, and we need unity to achieve that dream. These are our people who have fallen. They're not looking for pity or a handout. They're looking for help. I was in New Orleans two weeks ago and I was literally floored by how little has been done.
Q. Why Chris Martin?
A. I really like his band's music, and he really likes my band's music.
Q. What did you see and feel when you were in New Orleans?
A. Frankly, I was a little concerned about my own emotional state. New Orleans is a very special place to me, being a Southerner. It's also where we recorded ''Automatic for the People" and ''New Adventures in Hi-Fi," two of what I consider our best albums. I was not prepared for what I saw. It looked like images I've seen of Pompeii -- not a bird or a dog for miles, and this was five months later. The destruction is biblical in its proportions.
Q. Is it difficult for an affluent country like ours to be compassionate? Is it our tendency to think of us versus them?
A. Uh, I don't think I need to remind anyone on this call that New Orleans is part of the United States of America. There is no us and them.
Q. Why not an R.E.M. song?
A. I don't know. For some reason, this song stuck in my head.
Q. Did you know anyone affected by Katrina?
A. Uh, this is our story: We the people. I know those are big words, but that's kind of what we represent.
Q. Why aren't people more outraged?
A. Other things take our attention away as a country. I think lot of people think everything's on the up and up, and I'm here to tell you that's not the case. You can't imagine how bad it is. I'll give kudos to Anderson Cooper and CNN. He's been very responsible as a journalist, reporting something on the Gulf Coast every night he's broadcasting.
Q. You're being remarkably restrained.
A. At this point, it's more important to remind all Americans that we're great as a united people, and as a divided people we fall. It's our moral responsibility to help our fellow man. These are extremely divisive times and I think our strength is in unity.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.