Alternative rock band R.E.M. has shared the previously unreleased song “Fascinating” to benefit global organization Mercy Corps’ Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Band members Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe recorded “Fascinating” in 2004 at Nassau’s Compass Point Studios. It is now available for download for the first time via remhq.bandcamp.com.
Fans can stream the song for free on Bandcamp and download it for a minimum donation of $2 or an amount of their choosing. Proceeds will go directly to Mercy Corps’ emergency response and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.
“Fascinating” first appeared on the original master of 2001’s Reveal before being cut last minute, and, in fact, was singer Michael Stipe’s favorite song from the Reveal sessions (according to guitarist Peter Buck’s recollection, as chronicled in David Buckley’s R.E.M. biography, Fiction). “It’s really beautiful,” bassist/keyboardist Mike Mills told Buckley. “It has a flute, oboe arrangement, but it made the record too long… and something had to go.” R.E.M. rerecorded the track in Nassau for 2004’s Around the Sun (co-produced by Pat McCarthy and R.E.M, and engineered by Jamie Candiloro), but the ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album.
“I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there,” reflects Mills. “It breaks my heart to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian. Please help us and Mercy Corps do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by this catastrophe.”
Hurricane Dorian hammered the Bahamas’ northwest islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco for 48 hours in early Sept. 2019, causing widespread destruction and leaving 76,000 people homeless and in need of life-saving assistance. Mercy Corps mobilized immediately and are committed to reaching 3,000 families with emergency kits including mosquito nets, tarps, jerrycans, water-purifying tablets and rope. Given the extensive electrical blackouts, the humanitarian aid organization is also distributing solar lanterns equipped with USB chargers so that survivors can charge essential devices and stay safe after dark.
In 2005, following a visit to Mercy Corps’ Hurricane Katrina recovery program in New Orleans, Stipe released a six-song EP that raised nearly $100K for Mercy Corps’ relief efforts along the United States Gulf Coast. The band also supported Mercy Corps’ Katrina relief efforts.