Man did I ever love them from the first time I heard “This One Goes Out To The One I Love” way back in 1987. I loved the droning E string solo on the electric guitar that became one of their signature sounds along with Michael Stipe’s vocals and obscure lyrics. It was such a unique sound at the time. Peter Buck described a typical R.E.M. song as “”Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish things.” They were soon referred to by Rolling Stone magazine as “America’s Best Rock & Roll Band!” I’m not sure that I would go that far but they did stand head and shoulders above most of the rest. Great shampoo by the way.
Like most people. I really got on the bandwagon in 1991 when they released ” Out Of Time.” I pretty much wore out that cassette. I remember a musician friend came over one time and we listened to it over and over until 6 in the morning. Of course “Losing My Religion” was the big single and the album sold over 12 million copies. “Automatic For The People”, “Monster” and “New Adventure’s In Hi-Fi” sold 10, 9 and 5 million copies respectively. They were huge! What today’s artists wouldn’t give for those kinds of sales. Then came the massive contract with Warner and things started to go a little downhill. Slowly but surely…
I was really hoping that they would stay in the mainstream like U2 has somehow managed to do. I saw R.E.M. on Austin City Limits a few years ago and they looked and sounded great with a bunch of killer new songs. But it didn’t really catch on with the masses for whatever reason. However, I feel pretty comfortable stating that I don’t think we will be seeing any of the members of R.E.M. in a food bank line-up anytime soon.
“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.