Thursday, September 13, 2007

Track Eleven

Carry each his burden
We are young despite the years
We are concerned
We are hope despite the times
--REM, "These Days"

I am slowly going through the Monkey House Nebraska CD collection, sucking a good deal of it onto the medium-infinite capacity of my new iPod. Tonight, I got to the Rs. And there, leading off the Rs, almost propping up my entire CD collection, is an incomplete history of my favorite band ever: REM.

I was making it through without getting too caught up in the Reverend Howard Finster whirligig of memory and melancholy that music can often send me into, until I caught the opening notes of "Feeling Gravity's Pull." And, well, I guess I felt it. The pull of the past. The recall of a place or a scent that is triggered by a sound. Again, I go back to those formative high school years. That's when music really started playing a big role in my life.

For me, the soundtrack to those years is all over the map, and, perhaps, none too hip. REM, of course, Life's Rich Pageant. Also, Hendrix--"Crosstown Traffic" being a particular track of note. Jethro Tull, too--Thick as a Brick, Stand Up, War Child, in particular. Throw in Cure (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me), Violent Femmes, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Pretenders, and you've got quite a few of the big guns that filled my shoe box of cassette tapes.

But, REM has always occupied the highest station in my pantheon of musical dieties. Sadly, as the dieties of most primitive civilizations are reduced to quaint figures over time, so goes REM. I stuck with them all the way through Reveal, but it stopped there. I should have cut my ties when drummer Bill Berry cut his. After all, a band that loses such an integral part as a drummer really ceases to be that band anymore. It becomes something else. Like Van Halen with Sammy Hagar--it just wasn't Van Halen, anymore, no matter what Eddie and his drummer brother whose name nobody knows says.

Anyway, I started this out, thinking I would trace the development of College Radio in the eighties, in order to prove that REM was a watershed band, like The Beatles, The Sex Pistols and The Ramones, Sonic Youth and Nirvana, The Blues Brothers (just kidding), but, I got side tracked, and now, I just want to go eat.

This blog of note certainly does more justice to the nuances of my favorite band than I have the energy or interest to give them. If you are interested, just head up the stairs and to the landing.

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