Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe go to the haunted house

Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe go to the haunted house

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: songs about ghosts.

Kristin Hersh made her first solo album, Hips And Makers, while her main band Throwing Muses was still a going concern—and the choice to go simple and sparse paid off immediately. “Your Ghost” is the first song on the album, and it ended up bigger—and better, really—than anything she had done with the solid, well-respected band she had been co-fronting for more than a decade. A large part of that attention was due to the presence of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who Hersh credits with “saving” the song by lending his upper register to its haunting chorus: “I think last night / You were driving circles around me.” And while that line on its own might not seem like much, “Your Ghost” is actually the rare pop song that reads like poetry. (Read the whole thing here, but don’t watch the video—its weird Maya Deren homage hasn’t aged well, if it was ever good at all.) The song itself is gorgeously simple, made up of just four ingredients: Hersh’s simply strummed acoustic, a mournful cello line, and those two terrific voices, which weave in and out of each other with increasing urgency. (Stipe even gets worked up enough to do his little mid-’90s hand dance—maybe you should go watch the video after all.) It’s an absolutely gorgeous song about loss and longing and hope: Whoever she’s addressing is gone, but Hersh can just pick up the phone and wake his ghost—she’s sure of it.

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