Michael Stipe Strikes a Note of Sanity With Coronavirus PSA

Even though he starts off by singing verses from the 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine),” ex-R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe strikes a balanced, cautious-but-optimistic tone with a “4 Coronavirus Rules” public service announcement posted on his website and excerpted on Twitter (below) on Tuesday. First and most important, those rules are:

  1. Stay at home as much as possible. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll celebrate in four months,” he says.
  2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds every time you enter or leave your house. “Don’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, it’s too depressing,” he suggests. “Find some other song.”
  3. Act as if you’re already sick. “Act like you may already have the virus,” he warns. “And you don’t want to be within six feet of anyone else because you could pass it on to them, then they pass it on to someone else, they pass it on to two other people — you don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be that guy.”
  4. Be careful where you get your information — “[Even though you’re hearing this from] a former pop star,” Stipe jokes, rolling his eyes. “Don’t trust social media. Go to the CDC website. Go to trusted news services for your information.”

None of this information is new, but Stipe’s tone — concerned but reassuring, stern but empathetic, and most of all, reasonable — speaks as loudly as his advice.

He also thanks and sends good wishes to all health-care professionals, as we all should.

R.E.M.’s 1987 hit, which came out shortly before a stock-market plunge, has become a bad-times anthem over the years and not surprisingly has seen a jump in popularity in recent weeks. It’s currently No. 26 on the iTunes chart and is a top 5 most-popular song by the group on Spotify with 83.7 million streams (compared with top song “Losing My Religion”’s 456.3 million), although that could change soon.

Watch the full video message — which, at four and a half minutes is less concise and a bit more alarmed, at Stipe’s site, or the short version below.



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