Tag Archives: R.E.M.

R.E.M.’s Farewell

“Is this really what you want?”

Well, with this song, now I’m not so sure.

I was never really an R.E.M. fan.  More specifically, I suppose, I’m  a casual fan who’s always managed to find himself surrounded by R.E.M. fanatics (students at liberal arts colleges, fellow employees of ad agencies, readers of The New Yorker, etc.).

I appreciate the vividly odd stories found in their songs, and there’s no denying the influence they’ve had on the trajectory of pop music.  But even if we set aside the societal affront of “Shiny Happy People,”and concede that Michael Stipe is paid to be a singer (not a dancer), they never quite worked their way into my heart.

And then they go and release this as their last single ever.

We All Go Back To Where We Belong, R.E.M.

It is, quite simply, beautiful.  A straightforward reminder that music doesn’t have to be achingly clever or stridently angry or painfully try-hard to be interesting.  Sometimes songs can just be pretty.  And, these days, that sometimes isn’t nearly often enough.

Farewell, R.E.M.  You’ll be missed.  By me, even.

To accompany this last song, the band has released the following two videos that film two famous folks listening to the song for the first time. Continue reading

Collapse into… Now?

Here’s a track from R.E.M.’s highly-anticipated upcoming album “Collapse Into Now.”  If you ask me, this song is sonically a bit closer to collapsing into the mid-90’s, but in a good way.  Some are even saying it’s the best R.E.M. track since the mid-90’s.  Here’s the producer, the awesomely-named Jacknife Lee, talking about the track:

“I love this song. There’s a melancholy in it that only R.E.M. (can) articulate. The demo of the song was very simple and beautiful, and we decided to keep it that way. We tracked this in New Orleans. The vocals and some percussion we did in Nashville. Michael had a lyrical idea that was so complex that I didn’t understand what he was getting at even after he explained it to me. He has pages and pages of lyrics and ideas with backstories for characters that don’t figure in the song. Everything has to make sense to him. Nothing is (a) throwaway or flippant. This song took some beating into shape. The bridge had a vocal at one stage, but the music conveyed what he was saying anyway, so we deleted it. I bought some little analog synths (Microtrons) for my kids and these were amusing us all. The middle section of the song needed to feel less grounded, so I had Peter, Michael, and Mike do the middle section with the synths. It was really good fun.”

Uberlin, R.E.M.

30 Words of Music, Day 23: Wistful

The day after Christmas is always a touch wistful.  Inevitably, the days running up to this one are a blur, but then all of the sudden all is quiet.  I’m always left wondering if I should have savored the blur a bit more, and always wishing that we could hit rewind or at least extend things out a bit.  If I’m not alone in this, perhaps you’ll enjoy this next batch of seasonal songs.

To start it off, here’s Willie Nelson asking us all to come home from Christmas (and lock the door on the bus when you come into the house).

Please Come Home For Christmas, Willie Nelson

To keep the crowd pleasers rolling, here’s a duo of songs from R.E.M….

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), R.E.M.

02 Merry Xmas Everybody, R.E.M.

And to wrap things up, for a serious touch of nostalgia back to my days in high school, here’s a new (!) recording from Toad the Wet Sprocket.  Apparently, this is their first recording in ten years and also is a cover of a Sam Phillips song.

It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas (Sam Phillips), Toad the Wet Sprocket

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday.  I’m headed out west tomorrow, so posts may be a bit spotty… but check back soon.

Day 24: A Song that You Want to Play at Your Funeral

For someone who frets over the song best suited for breakfast, choosing one’s final tracks is a high-stakes business.    But here I am, on day 24 of the 30 days of music, charged with choosing a song that I’d want to play at my funeral.  So I’ve narrowed it down to four, each its own strategy for the big event.

I might try to crack a joke.

Try Not To Breathe, R.E.M.

Or collect a few final frequent flier miles.

Airline to Heaven, Wilco

Attempt one last act of “betcha haven’t heard this song before” musical one-upsmanship.

Been Too Long, Coldplay

Or just give in to the maudlin.

The Trapeze Swinger, Iron and Wine

None quite fit the bill.  Good thing this was just an exercise.