Wednesday, September 21, 2011


R.E.M. have called it quits:

"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.

A sad day. My wife and I had our first date at an R.E.M. concert in 1989 at Memorial Coliseum. It was a great night and a great concert and the rest - 22 years, a dog and two kids later - is history. Which, of course, means two things:

1. A seminal part of my youth and young adulthood is now gone.

2. I am OLD.

Truth be told the time was probably right - their music of recent vintage has lost that certain edge (e.g. Rolling Stones), still great but no longer transcendent.  They will be missed.

My first ever R.E.M. concert was at the Civic Auditorium - back in the day when Portland was more civically minded (Civic Auditorium, Civic Stadium, etc.) - for their Life's Rich Pageant tour.   Over the years I have caught their shows in many places, the best venue perhaps being Red Rocks in Denver which is incredibly cool.  But I had managed to score fifth row center seats for the concert with my future wife (apparently this was impressive enough that she agreed to a second date) and it remains my favorite concert for obvious reasons.  Besides it was the Green tour and the band were, by that time, incredibly tight and had learned all about arena showmanship.  Big fun.

1 comment:

Jeff Alworth said...

Thought of you when I heard this news on the radio today. In the college dorm rooms of our youth, REM was a constant. I recall a young proto-economist as being the avatar of REM-dom. We found a certain kinship in their music when Dead Letter Office came out (roughly during freshman year). Three Velvet Undergound songs--a perfect bridge to my favorite band.

Relatedly, in 1989, very lonely and homesick at the end of a five-month stint in India, I walked into Nirula's ice cream and they were playing "End of the World," and I was saved. Still one of my fave songs of all time.

But things change and old bands fade out. Time for them to go. They had a run of albums between Murmur and Green that has rarely been matched in pop music--but that's a long time since they were relevant.