Friday 23 September 2011

First Dance Friday: Loves R.E.M

Three decades of music, and R.E.M have called it a day.

Riffing on pretty much the same 5 chords for an entire career (not my words m'lud, the words of Peter Buck) and being at worst noddingly interesting and at best plain bloody genius, I just marvel that they've managed to achieve so much, so consistently, and for so long.

Anyway, blah blah. I loved R.E.M when I were a nipper poncing around in my tie-dye skirt and Doc Martens, burning joss sticks. While our cooler mates were busy having bands like Nirvana and Sheep On Drugs change their lives, me and my best friend Catie were busy learning all the words to Automatic For The People and Monster and being far more interesting (we thought) for it. Never mind that we had no idea who Andy Kaufman was, or what it meant to be a sad tomato, or that I thought the lyrics were "What's the frequency Kenneth, the shopping's a dream, uh-huh" for years. Oh yes.

As I got older I neglected their current releases completely (sorry R.E.M) and instead delved into their extensive back catalogue, which alone contains more than enough awesome earstuff for a lifetime.

And this is where this week's First Dance Friday comes from. It's off Green, which Catie's older sister Beccie had so we never bothered with and -like Pinkerton by Weezer, which she also owned and we rejected- remained undiscovered by me until I was well into my twenties. It's one of the few slow R.E.M songs I can think of that could be interpreted as being about love, and not loss (Stipe seems particularly hung up on loss of innocence) or cryptic poetry that sounds very lovely but won't mean much to your Aunty Pat as she watches you waddling round the dancefloor.

Well done R.E.M., I'm sure I will continue to not listen to your solo endeavours just as I have not listened to anything you released beyond 1995, but I certainly salute your musical legacy.

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