R.E.M.

The One I Love

Composed by Bill Berry / Michael Stipe / Mike Mills / Peter Buck

Song Review by

"The One I Love" was quite literally the song that paved the way for R.E.M.'s overdue breakthrough in 1987; when it hit Top 20, college radio/ alternative rock had officially joined the mainstream. As the first single from the album Document, Michael Stipe told Musician magazine in January of 1988 that the song was "incredibly violent." "It's very clear that it's about using people over and over again," he said. The chorus consisted of one simple word, "fire," repeated; fire was part of a larger theme on the album which referred consistently to the various symbolic aspects of the element. The "spark" in the song was a nice cue for its video makers to feature flames in the clip (fire was a very popular dramatic device in the still nascent rock video medium). An acoustic version of the song retained the melodic bass line and jangling guitar but had a more melancholic bent; it was released as the B-side to the 12" single.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Document 1987 Capitol
Eponymous 1988 Concord / I.R.S. Records
Tourfilm [Video/DVD] 1990 Warner Bros.
The Very Best of R.E.M. 1991 Alex
No Image 1992 Alex
Rock the First, Vol. 2 1992
Various Artists
Sandstone 3:16
R.E.M. Singles Collected 1994 Import 3:17
Sounds of the Eighties: The Rolling Stone Collection, 1987-1988 1995
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
Road Movie 1996 Warner Reprise Video
In the Attic: Alternative Recordings 1985-1989 1997 EMI Music Distribution / Capitol 7:19
The Best of R.E.M. 1998 EMI Music Distribution 3:17
Retro 80's, Vol. 1 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:17
Modern Rock: 1986-1987 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
The Great Beyond 2000 Warner Bros. 3:10
Abrocken 2000
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:16
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1987 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:19
Modern Rock: Love Songs 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:19
No Image 2001 Warner Bros.
Document/Life's Rich Pageant 2003 EMI Music Distribution 4:06
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 2003 Warner Bros. 3:25
Oldies But Goodies: Real 80's New Wave, Vol. 1 2003
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:15
Bittersweet Love Songs: The Two Sides Of 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:15
School Reunion: The Disco 2004
Various Artists
Virgin 3:16
No Image 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Maxi Pop Oro 2005
Various Artists
Contrasena
Best Bands 2005 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:16
Best Acoustic Album in the World 2005
Various Artists
Liberty / Capitol 4:07
Dad Rocks! [Virgin UK 2005] 2005
Various Artists
Virgin 3:15
Acoustic Album [EMI] 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2006 R.E.M. 3:24
Pure Acoustic [2006] 2006
Various Artists
Universal 3:16
No Image 2006 Capitol
When the Light Is Mine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 [DVD] 2006 EMI-Capitol Special Markets
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 3:17
R.E.M. Live 2007 Concord / Universal 3:27
Kiss FM: La Mejor Música [2 CD/DVD] 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:17
Slave To Love 2008
Various Artists
Somerset Entertainment 3:17
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:16
80's Mixtape 2011
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Bros. 3:13
Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage: 1982-2011 2011 Universal
Unplugged 1991/2001: Complete Sessions 2014 Rhino
Complete Rarities Warner Bros. 1988-2011 2014 Concord / Universal 3:24
Unplugged 2001 2014 GC / Rhino
7IN-83-88 2014 I.R.S Records / I.R.S. Records / Universal 3:16
Now That's What I Call New Wave 80s 2015
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music 3:14
101 80s Hits [Spectrum]
Various Artists
Spectrum Music
No Image Swindle
The Best Rock Anthems ...Ever!
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:16
The Greatest Guitar Riffs of All Time
Various Artists
EMI 3:18
Top of the Pops: 1985-1989
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:15
blue highlight denotes editor's pick