At least 2,500 people are missing after Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, slammed into the Bahamas last week. Major relief campaigns have been mobilized and now R.E.M., who’ve spent time on the islands, are assisting in their own way.
Today, the alt-rock band has unearthed a previously unreleased song called “Fascinating” to benefit the Mercy Corps’ emergency response and recovery efforts. Michael Stipe & co. recorded the song in 2004 at Compass Point Studios in the capital city of Nassau, where they stayed over two months as part of a “creative retreat.”
(Read: R.E.M.’s Top 20 Songs)
“Fascinating” first popped up on the original master of 2001’s Reveal, but was ultimately left off the final tracklist at the last minute, despite being Stipe’s favorite. “It’s really beautiful,” Stipe told writer David Buckley, who penned the 2002 R.E.M. biography Fiction. “It has a flute, oboe arrangement, but it made the record too long… and something had to go.”
The rarity then almost made it onto 2004’s Around the Sun, but again was shelved… that is, until now. Considering Stipe and the group hold a special place in their hearts for the Bahamas, finally releasing “Fascinating” to raise relief funds made plenty of sense.
“I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there,” Stipe remarked in a statement. “It breaks my heart to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian. Please help us and Mercy Corps do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by this catastrophe.”
“No living Bahamian has ever seen anything like this in their lifetime,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a televised address on Wednesday, per the New York Times, “but as horrible and vicious as Hurricane Dorian was, the bravery and resilience of the Bahamian people is even more powerful.”