Friday Farewell Song: R.E.M.

I recall the funky raw posters from REM that lined the walls and halls and shops of my youth, along with my lack of interest in their folk pop punk, which I wrote off as college radio station muzak, busy as I was with my a-ha, Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran, none of whom confered coffeeshop hipness in the day. But I grew to appreciate their soundtracking cafes, bars, parties and garage sales through the late 80’s/early 90’s, and I son developed a genuine fondness for their “Out Of Time” LP, the one that put them into big pop leagues. True to my musical form, I was most enamored of the lovely instrumental, “Endgame” featuring Michael Stipe at his harmonizing best. Guitarist Peter Buck best described the band’s sound: “Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish things.” When I lived in Austin, early REM sounded even better, the Southern flavor seeeping through the hot swollen iced-coffee days of a Texas summer; their 1986 “Eponymous”  embedded in my nostalgia DNA as I drove through the lo-fi, vegetated neighborhoods looking for an apartment. Tho they no longer held the alternative music world in sway, I even liked their more unique, electronic late 90’s and 2000’s output, especially the beautiful anthem, “Around The Sun.” But it’s still “Endgame” that holds me with its wistful melancholic chorus, and with the announcement of the end of REM, an apropos esthetic and emotional summation of the band’s impact within a timeless sonic document.

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3 Responses to “Friday Farewell Song: R.E.M.”

  1. i saw REM live at my university hall back in the days of yore after the release of ‘lifes rich pageant’, they were BONZA. i never got into new REM, they’re one of my ‘time-warp-teary-eyed-wistful-nostalgia’ bands i listen to when tripping the light fantastic down memory lane.

    (i heard some jackass on the radio here claim the REM ‘breakup’ was because of stipe’s nude photo controversy on ‘tumblr’ or whatever it’s called, which sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but that never stopped anyone from stating suspicion or opinion as fact the world over i suppose)

  2. I also saw REM many times back in the day. For me, each album brings to mind a specific time and place. I think their first four albums are fantastic and really showcase a great American band rising out of the garage. I also like their middle commercial period but not so much the post-Berry stuff, although “Up” is a funky low-key record that I dig.

    I picked up their last album and it seemed lukewarm and rudderless. At least with their over-produced “electronica” era they had some sort of direction.

    I can see why they decided to call it quits.

  3. i still remember the day i listened to monster and thought “this is the end”. automatic for the people was such a powerful closure, in a way. what they ve been doing since then was merely a shadow of the brooding, mysterious band that i loved. up was fun, yes :)

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