From the April 2008 edition of Spin Magazine, there is an article on R.E.M. and an interview with Michael Stipe.
Stipe said he feels much more comfortable about his writing ability now that he is older. The singer started his career writing about himself but now realises he can connect with his audience without baring his soul.
He added: "There are songs I wrote in the past that were gender-specific. '7 Chinese Brothers' was about me breaking up a couple - and then dating both of them, a man and a woman, which is a terrible thing to do, but I was young and stupid. At the time I was writing about what I knew, and what I knew was myself. I found out I'm not that kind of writer. I think I'm better when I write about things that are not me."
That's always a debate - whether a songwriter can capture a universal feeling with the personal subject matter that he/she knows about. I think that there is always some personal in the universal, and some universal in the personal... What do you think?
May the Muse be with you