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Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's The End Of The Music World As We Know It 
or a ground breaking band from the 80s calls it a day

Okay, so yesterday after 31 years in the biz, the iconic band from my post-college years, R.E.M. decided to "call it a day" in their joint musical venture.

One of my friends posted that this announcement should have happened ten years ago. He's right, of course, but even though it's been years since they recorded a collection of songs that remotely come close to their heyday in the 80s & 90s, news of their definitive demise left me melancholy and wistful. In spite of R.E.M.'s lackluster latter years, there's no denying the enormous influence these four men have had on the music industry and its future inhabitants.

On their official website, the band put it thusly:

"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." R.E.M.

Music, much like smells, is a trigger point that has that magical power to send one back in time to a special event, place or gathering with the stroke of that first telling chord. I have a lot of truly happy memories of moments in my past life spent with one friend in particular, all connected to the catalog of early R.E.M.

We were first introduced to land of R.E.M. by our musical guru friend, Bill when he started working with Geo back in the early 80s. At the time, Bill was in love with the song Driver 8 from their third album, Fables of the Reconstruction. I felt kinda meh about it at first, gravitating towards other tunes. And then this happened last year.

My worlds colliding in pure awesomeness. *Swoon* Plus you can actually understand the lyrics. I admit I love pure power of it now.

Anywho, they created so many great songs (Pretty Persuasion, Seven Chinese Bros, So Central Rain, Nightswimming, Shiny Happy People, the entirety of Life's Rich Pageant) and they're all connected to Bill.

Psst. Don't tell anyone, but I used to have a teeny bit of a crush on Mr. Bill. He's smart, talented, funny as Hell... what's not to love. Oh and did I mention he was handsome? Yeah, that too. Thankfully I was married to my ever-loving Geo when he waltzed into our lives, because had I been single, I'm certain he would have crushed my soul.

He is the Virgo flame to my Aquarius moth.

Bill is an amazing human being, but he has an irresistible charisma, making every girl he'd ever been with long to be his wife and bear his progeny.

No shit. Every. Single. One.

Way back when, he was in a long-term, very committed relationship which ended with him catching the girl he thought he was going to marry in the carnal clutches of another man. It left him damaged. So much so that every time he found a relationship getting close, he would walk away before she had a chance to dump him. Needless to say he left a trail of very angry, splintered women. It was nearly two decades before he let some in.

Best buds
circa 1993? 
Dorkus and her two favorite Y chromosomes
(could those glasses BE any bigger?!?)

Italian film director Sergio Spoliate and the Rock Star
Glam Rocker with Sergio's paramour, Sophia Putania
He's married now and lives on the other side of the Commonwealth. We don't see him nearly as much as we'd like, but hearing an REM tune takes me charging back to our youthful antics together: dart games at Caine's, George's surprise 30th birthday party, the great baby powder vs hair dryer incident at Hunting Ridge, dancing on O'Leary's bowling machine, white-guy dancing and drinking too much at Metropol, late-night confabulating (drunken or sober), Summer bowling league, numerous concerts including REM, smoking ceeegars, Jamacin' Me Crazy night in Florida, St. Patrick's Day bar crawl and perhaps my very favorite memory that never fails to make laugh out loud: the image of Bill riding a girl child's pink flowered Big Wheel down our steep hill, long legs all sticking up in the air, the trike's roar busting through the 1am stillness.

That one's going to be in head forever.

Good times...

So thank you Michael, Mike, Bill and Peter for three decades of music, for your gorgeous, thoughtful lyrics and for providing the soundtrack to the scenes of our youth. You will live on in my iPod.

I leave you with a few of my personal favorites from their vast collection. Starting with a rocking one from 1989 when they were young pups and Stipe still had hair.

the beautifully understated Nightswimming

"Miles Standish proud" with Eddie Vedder