Old School Week: It all changed with REM…

Photography by Effie-Fay

It’s no secret how much I loved & love REM.  Any TSURURADIO search will bring up dozens of posts & mixtapes involving what is probably the greatest American band going, in terms of longevity & quality.  Yep, I said it. Yeah, it’s arguable, sure, but from Chronic Town to Accelerate, all the deviations, evolutions, re-births, and nearly losing a drummer for life to just losing him from the band, it’s hard not to find a wealth of amazing music in their catalog.  Love them or hate them, you have to respect them.  Not just for what they achieved, but for how they go about it.

BUT… I’m not here to sell you on REM.  I’m here to go old school on your asses.  I could’ve selected almost any album from their discography and told you a sweet little story, but instead, I’ll tell you how, back in nineteen eight-something, I hated them.  It’s all because of Out Of Time.

Remember yesterday when I told you how I was balls deep in a Violent Femmes obsession for 10 years or so, the obsession that pulled me out of my prog box and into a whole new world of music and sounds?  Remember that?  Well, what I didn’t tell you was that during that time I had a mild fascination with REM, specifically Green. I played the shit out of Green. Yeah, I was into their earlier work too, but at that age, for whatever reason, Green caught me & held on for dear life.  So, as my Violent Femmes fascination grew, my need for more real/quirky/earthy/whatever/etc music grew and grew.  Word was Out Of Time was coming out as high school was wrapping up and a friend of mine, Laura I think her name was (could be wrong) got the tape.

Okay.  Remember, my head is wrapped around “Pop Song ’89”, “World Leader Pretend”, etc, & a whole whole lot of Femmes when THIS starts up, LOUD, in my car.

I liked rap when it came out. I was down with the hip, hop, the hippy to the hippy, I even had the Rappin’ Duke 12″!

Yeah, the 12″, but that was middle school or something, rap was stupid to me in high school, bad & cheesy (to me, I say…what the hell did I know), and here’s mother fucking Stipe singing “Hey. Hey. Hey.” all Stipe-style and shit with some rapper rapping cheesy raps!

I think the word that describes my reaction on the way to school that morning is “aghast”.

The album got better from there for a bit until the Memory side kicked in and “Shiny Happy People” enveloped me and blew my mind (not in a good way).

Before I knew it, “Losing My Religion” was ALL OVER the radio, every hour on the hour, winning awards, and even the annoying popular kids in school were listening to it, loving it, making it their’s!  MY REM was now their REM too???  No!

Laura (you know, I don’t think that was her name, but we’ll stick with it) loved the album.  Every day when it was her turn to run the music in the car (we took turns), it was Out Of Time time.  It grated me like a goat gouda.  For every song I thought was okay like “Country Feedback”, it had a counter song that killed me, like “Near Wild Heaven”.

Well… I graduated high school and set about working & trying to figure out how and where to live (I left my dad’s house the weekend I graduated, about 2 weeks after my 18th birthday) forgetting all about Out Of Time and REM for that matter.  I joined the crowd of folks who called them a “sell-out” when they went to a major label, shaking my head in metaphorical unison wondering what went wrong with Stipe and the boys.

It wasn’t some time well after Automatic For The People’s release that I even listened to the band again.  I would fall in love with AFTP in my tiny garage apartment with my moped while I lived a little life cheffin’ in Tampa and with my neighbor’s love of old REM, I would regain an appreciation for the band and make them part of my music life for good.

Each album release of their since would be a small, tiny event in my head, as I wondered what, exactly, they would sound like this time.  Going at them with that approach, I’ve never been disappointed again.

Somewhere between Reveal & Around The Sun (the final two albums of their layered more electronic trilogy, the first being Up), I gave Out Of Time a new listen and finally…. finally….. it clicked. Yes, even “Radio Song”.  Why? I can’t explain it.  Maybe it’s just because it’s them, it’s who they are, they do their own thing, whether it’s easy pop or rock or weird or random beatnik or whatever, it’s REM, there’s always something there to connect to, relate to, and as long as you play along with whatever they happen to be trying out this time around it’s hard not to love it.

Technically, REM is probably my favourite band and, in the end, Out Of Time is one of the reasons.  So… let’s celebrate the most loved & hated but eventually just loved REM album from 1991, Out Of Time!  Sing it with me now!

HEY HEY HEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Hey. Hey. Hey….


Time side
1. “Radio Song”
2. “Losing My Religion” + Video
3. “Low”
4. “Near Wild Heaven”
5. “Endgame”

Memory side
6. “Shiny Happy People”
7. “Belong”
8. “Half a World Away”
9. “Texarkana”
10. “Country Feedback”
11. “Me in Honey”

Ah, Losing My Religion via that MTV Unplugged show!

And more that I could find!

Yeah…. a lot of ’em!

Seriously… we could do this all day, so how about you just go show REM all your love at their website and we call it a day!



3 comments for “Old School Week: It all changed with REM…

  1. June 2, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Love Out of Time. Murmur has always been my favorite, but, I actually think despite its massive success…Out of Time is underrated. Texarkana, Half a World Away, Country Feedback and Me in Honey are all amazing songs. And I’ve always liked the hits off of it.

    Another hugely underrated R.E.M. album: New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

  2. June 3, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Great write-up!

    I was wondering wtf it was with you and REM, but now I know. :)

    Is it just me, or is there quite a bit of Talking Heads, and maybe even some Clash to be heard on Radio Song???

  3. June 3, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    @goodbye radio: NAiHF = Raw Yumminess!!!!

    @Neil: wait til you see my next post…… suddenly, this whole music thing makes a looooooot of sense!

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