Listen: R.E.M., ‘Devil Rides Backwards’ — unreleased ‘Automatic for the People’ demo

A second previously unreleased demo of an unheard song from R.E.M.’s sessions for its 1992 classic Automatic for the People has been released ahead of that album’s reissue next month, a song called “Devil Rides Backwards” that’s being billed as the album’s “great lost track.”

According to the band’s website, the song’s full title is “The Devil Rides Backwards on a Horse Called Maybe,” though it went unfinished, and the demo version to be included on the Automatic reissue — which you can stream below via Spotify — features a mule, not a horse.

“That was a mistake,” Stipe says on the band’s website. “It’s supposed to be a horse. I think that phrase might have been something that Peter pulled from literature. He thought it had a nice ring to it.”

For his part, Buck says he regrets Stipe never finished the lyric:

“That was the one that I most wanted to have on the record. I really loved that song. Michael just didn’t feel that he had it and he likes to work by inspiration. But I remember I was in New Orleans and I played a cassette of a lot of rough mixes to a bunch of people. Five years later they’d go, ‘Gosh, whatever happened to that ‘Devil Rides Backwards’ song?’ It got pretty close but it was never finished. So it’s on this.”

The four-disc 25th anniversary reissue is due out Nov. 10 and will include the original 1992 album joined by a live disc featuring the band’s famed Greenpeace benefit concert at the 40 Watt Club, another disc of 20 unreleased demos and a Blu-ray featuring a surround mix of the album and its accompanying videos.

Check out “Devil Rides Backwards” below.

 

 

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