Though Hurricane Dorian did far less damage than expected in the States, the storm absolutely devastated the Bahamas, and alt-rock legends R.E.M. are stepping up to assist in the relief effort by sharing “Fascinating,” a previously unreleased song they recorded in the island nation back in 2004.
The track is available to stream for free on R.E.M.’s Bandcamp page, and to download for a minimum donation of $2 or an amount of fans’ choosing. The proceeds will go directly to global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, and their emergency response, relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.
Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe originally recorded “Fascinating” at Nassau’s Compass Point Studios, with the song appearing on the original master of 2001’s Reveal, only to be cut at the last minute. As Buck recalled in David Buckley’s 2003 R.E.M. biography Fiction, “Fascinating” was Stipe’s favorite song from the Reveal sessions—Mills told Buckley, “It’s really beautiful. It has a flute, oboe arrangement, but it made the record too long … and something had to go.” The band re-recorded the song in Nassau for Around the Sun in 2004, but couldn’t find a place for it on that album, either. 15 years later, the song finally gets its moment as R.E.M. give back to the Bahamas, and fittingly so. Over restrained percussion, synth twinkles and somber piano, Stipe imagines a world bettered by human connection, singing, “If you just can’t speak to me, just throw me a line / Give me just a little nod, I could fascinate you.”
“I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there,” says Mills in a statement. “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.”
R.E.M. have worked with Mercy Corps before, supporting the organization’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts back in 2005. Stipe released a six-track EP titled In The Sun, raising nearly $100K for Mercy Corps’ Gulf Coast relief efforts.
Listen to and/or download “Fascinating” via R.E.M.’s Bandcamp here and watch the band perform in California circa 1998 via the Paste archival footage further down. You can support Mercy Corps directly right here.