I lived through Ignoreland, and when I first listened to that catchy songs lyrics I broke down cryingI was overwhelmed that someone had managed to put into words that awful series of years in American politics and outlook, and to have caught the mood so concisely that I remembered every part of it as if it were still happening. Dont let anybody tell you the Reagan years were great, kids, they were a nightmare for those of us who werent in the straight-white-upper-middle-class-Republican bracket. Theres something just awful about knowing every day that your government doesnt want you as a citizen and is actively pursuing legal action to strip you of your human rights at the same time its escalating an already insanely overblown arms race. Those years were hell and I never want to go through them again. The election campaigns got worse and worse and thats what Stipe captures most in this song the soul-rapingly awful sequence of lies, lies, and more lies, and the flinging of mud worse, seemingly, than any that had existed in the world beforehand.
Its saying something that I react so strongly to that one tracks existence on this album and completely forget that the same CD contains Man on the Moon, which under any circumstance is worthy of nearly as much commentary. Still, its hard to think of anything but Ignoreland if youre gone through it yourself and see the danger of that reoccuring (its September 2004 as I write this).
An update, in 2009: for years I had only a handful of tracks from this album ripped to my digital music library, and even then I rarely listened to any of themIgnoreland is obviously still a sensitive one, Man on the Moon is too maudlin and quasi-nostalgic for idle listening, and Id heard Drive waaaaay too many times in the 1990s and needed to give it a decade of rest before returning to itand because of this I pretty much let the rest of the albums tracks slip out of my memory (none of the latter had ever really found traction there anyway). But by some chance I happened to pull out the CD and gave Star Me Kitten a spin, because I couldnt remember it at all and upon really listening to it this time I immediately added it to the digital library. What a bleak little scenario it presents, the nearly lifeless effort to recapture the spark of love thats just died out, and how superbly evoked the hollowness is by Stipes halting voice.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.