Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thank you, R.E.M.

R.E.M announced yesterday that they were splitting up after 31 years.

To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.

I really loved R.E.M. growing up.  I had a poster for New Adventures in Hi Fi hanging in my bedroom for years and my sister and I played Out of Time and Monster so often around the house that even my dad knew the words.  The older I got, the more I delved into their earlier stuff, slowly collecting albums.  I probably played their Eponymous compilation hundreds of times throughout college.

To me, their music from the 80's represents quintessential east coast college rock and remains timeless, and their music from the 90's is some of the most recognizable and significant from that decade.  You have to admire them for successfully crossing over from alternative to mainstream.  Automatic for the People was a masterpiece.  Remember when everywhere you turned, you'd hear "Everybody Hurts?"  They probably lost their college/alternative radio credibility around that time, but I never stopped loving them.

As much as I adore R.E.M., I won't miss them being together.  Over the years I paid less attention and didn't bother listening to many of their albums released beyond the 90s.  I noted a few weeks ago that they'd probably completely lost relevance when some of my younger friends told me they didn't know who Micheal Stipe was.  (Remember how big of a celebrity he was at their height of popularity?)  It was a surprise to me that they actually released an album earlier this year, apparently to good reviews.

My feelings about R.E.M.'s break-up are mixed.  I'm happy for them for being together for so long and deciding to end on a good note.  I'm sad because it represents the end of an era.  I'm sad that alternative music is dead.  I'm sad that I never saw them perform in person.  (Unless they played the Tibetan Freedom Concert the year I went, in which case I forgot... festivals are like that.)  Mostly I'm sad because their music reminds me of growing up, and them breaking up reminds me how old I am.

I wanted to honor R.E.M. with a long post and thank them for being such a big part of my life and for shaping my musical tastes.  I'm embedding some of my favorite songs of theirs, below.  It was difficult compiling this list because there are SO MANY great songs in their catalog, and honestly, I got a little emotional watching all of these.

By the way, I'm posting LIVE versions of their songs because they sounded TIGHT AS FUCK live and being forced to watch commercials for the official videos on Youtube makes me ragey inside.  However, their official music videos were always amazing, so I provided links to those official versions below in case you're more patient then me.

"So. Central Rain" from 1984's Reckoning - their first TV performance?  How cute are they?

official video here

"Radio Free Europe" from 1983's Murmur - Wow, remember when bands performed TWICE on Letterman?

official video here

"Fall On Me" from 1986's Life's Rich Pageant

official video here

"The One I Love" from 1987's Document

official video here

"Drive" from 1992's Automatic for The People

official video here

"Man on the Moon" also from 1992's Automatic for The People

official video here

"Nightswimming" also from 1992's Automatic for The People

official(?) video here

"Strange Currencies" from 1994's Monster

album version here

1 comment:

Dolphin and Condor Fabrics said...

Then Michael Stipe dropped his peener out :( NSFW