I guess I’m really behind the latest breaking music news; I just stumbled upon the announcment that REM has officially decided to disband and retire after 30 amazing years of making music! It’s bummer in so many ways; for me personally, it’s a day of mourning and having to admit that the years have passed so quickly since attending high school in the 1980’s. I recall one of my first real independent purchases was a CD: REM’s “Life’s Rich Pagaent” in 1986. I purchased it at a store long gone called Record Town, and at that time 80%of the store was actual records and cassettes and 20% the “new” technology called the Compact Disc, yikes! I’m so old that floppy discs were actually…well…”floppy”!
At that time I was a sophomore in high school trying to figure out quality music in the plethora of one-hit wonders and trashy glam rock bands. Looking back now, there is just so much of my life, places I had been, and people I use to know; it all comes rushing back when I hear songs by REM.
Naturally I’ve always been partial to their earlier work rather than their later material in the late 90’s and 2000’s. I think the last album I bought was “Automatic For The People” in 1992; and then fell out following them for nearly two decades! I guess I felt that the band headed in a direction at that time where I simply wasn’t feeling what they were putting out on a consistent basis; like to friends with interests no longer in common it was time to move on. As fate would have it though, it wasn’t until last year that I became reaquainted with REM through my fellow HiFi reviewer ericstraus; he was kind enough to hook me up with the bands entire discography and I’m eternally grateful. It was a nice to reunite with their past albums and discover some of their newer material. Their later music has been an evolution up peaks and valley’s, never seeming to recapture their early sound and that is ok. Clearly, whether you like their later material or not, they development as a band and headed in a direction that they felt was right for them. I can only imagine playing the same songs for 30 years and waining for a change in style or direction at some point, clearly REM took every random moment of inspiration and followed it wherever it took them.
The best thing about getting re-aquainted with REM has been listening to them in the car with my 4-year old son Jacob. He has a thing for their “Green” album and specifically their big hit “Orange Crush”; me too. My personal favorite on that album is “Remember California”, just such rich tones and smart lyrics and again, just so classic REM. It’s a sad day for music but clearly a well deserved retirement for a band that has contributed so much to the genre, and perhaps more profound: peoples lives.
There is a nice article in The Washington Post about their decision to retire, read more by clicking here.
We look forward to the reunion concert already!