Next month, R.E.M. will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their landmark album, Automatic for the People, with a deluxe reissue. Ahead of the release, the rock icons have shared a previously unheard demo of the mythical lost track, “Devil Rides Backwards”.
Originally titled “The Devil Rides Backwards on a Horse Called Maybe”, the song is presented in its unfinished form which references a mule instead of a horse. “That was a mistake,” Stipe explains in the expanded liner notes. “It’s supposed to be a horse. I think that phrase might have been something that Peter [Buck] pulled from literature. He thought it had a nice ring to it.”
“That was the one that I most wanted to have on the record,” Buck adds. “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.”
Hear the haunting acoustic track below.
Automatic for the People 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Reissue arrives November 10th from Craft Recordings. Pre-orders are available here. Watch the album trailer below.
Watch our Annotated Video for “It’s the End of the World”: