Well, chances are that you will have heard about R.E.M.’s decision to break up. If you hadn’t before, I’m sorry to be the one to break the news.
Before I really get started, let me just say that this post may be a bit rambling. I’m sorry for that, but I wanted to get my thoughts down before they left me.
I have been a fan of REM since I was in college. I heard a wee song called “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” when I was in the Students’ Union Bar one night. A raucous song that went at 90 miles an hour for most of the song. A wee while later, I heard a little known song called “Losing My Religion” which had just been released as a single. It blew me away. For me, the rest, as they say, is history.
Albums were bought. Back catalogue sought. First was “Out Of Time” which contained the afore mentioned “Losing My Religion”, then “The Best Of REM”, the compilation album that was permanently in the jukebox in the Students’ Union Bar that encompassed their early days with the IRS record label. “Automatic For The People” was bought on the day of release and all subsequent albums were bought as close to their release date as my pay days and finances would allow.
And then, finally, I got to see them live. The Monster Tour in 1995. OK, I had to wait 5 extra months as I had a ticket for the SECC concert that never happened (Bill Berry’s on-stage brain haemorrhage saw to that). I got to swap my ticket for their appearance at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and got to see them live for the first time. Sadly, for me, I was at the other end of the stadium from the stage and there were no big screens in use for this tour so the band looked like a few dots on a stage 300 feet away. From then on, I was determined to make sure I was close to the front as I could for any subsequent concerts. In the end, I got to see R.E.M. live 6 times – Edinburgh, Stirling, T In The Park, Glasgow Green, Loch Lomond and London – and I was not too far from the front for each of the last 5. My 2 favourites out of that list were Glasgow Green and London.
But now, the members of R.E.M. have decided to go their separate ways. Bill Berry had already left his place at the drum kit in 1997 but Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe continued on for another 14 years and 5 albums before today’s news. Being used to not hearing much for a while before a new album, I was more than a little stunned by the news. Even now, several hours later, part of me wishes that it is part of some great hoax or prank but I know that it isn’t. Fortunately, we still have the albums, the DVDs and the memories that will keep R.E.M. around forever and a day.
To R.E.M. and all who sailed with them, thank you so much for creating and playing so much amazing music and good luck with whatever you do next.
The Cardman 🙁