Tuesday, September 27, 2011

R.E.M. R.I.P.

Well, R.E.M. officially called it quits this week, prompting people my age everywhere to proclaim, “Uh . . . they were still together?” On the heels of our September 24 post that was similar in content and Holmesian in length, I won’t meander down memory road but so much with R.E.M. If I do, I’m Sorry.

They were my favorite band in high school, and when I saw them play at William & Mary Hall in October 1987, I got a completely fraudulent look at the party-time aspect of the College, leading me to apply in earnest for enrollment. What a bait and switch. The show was outstanding, and after a quintet of studio LP’s that match up with any 5 consecutive albums I can conjure, there was no question that these four nerdy guys from Athens were the best thing going.

All downhill from there . . .

As I was signing on with William & Mary, R.E.M. signed with Warner Brothers. The disappointment commenced soon thereafter, by my parents and legions of fans, respectively. Years later, though, it was probably the wisest decisions for both parties. Didn’t learn much in the College classroom, but here is some of the wisdom I garnered from Stipey:
  • When you greet a stranger, look at his shoes.
  • Trust in your calling, make sure your calling's true.
  • Think of others, the others think of you.
  • A handshake is worthy if it’s all that you’ve got.
  • A perfect of circle of acquaintances and friends, drink another, coin a phrase.
  • Leonard Bernstein!
Here’s a story: R.E.M., Hampton Coliseum, November 1989. Rob, our old friend Otis, and I piled into Rob’s little Ford Escort and made the pilgrimage down the road. All big R.E.M. fans, and we all enjoyed the show despite feeling the band’s best work was behind them. Mostly true, but a little premature, as I remember the show and look at the setlist today.

Anyway, we’re at a stoplight just outside the Coliseum heading home after the show. Rob’s car featured an absence of luxury options, including power windows or a clock. I guess we were 0 for 3 on wristwatches, so Otis rolls down the window just a touch to see how much time we’ve got until the College Delly closes.

Otis: “Hey, buddy, you know what time it is?”
The jackalope in the Camaro next to us: “What??”
Otis: “Wondering if you happen to know what time it is.”
Jackalope: “Fuck you. I’m pissed off.”
Otis: “Okay . . . I’m pissed off now, too, asshole.”

Rob and I were laughing, but before anyone could blink, Jackalope was out of his car, over to ours, and had managed to punch Otis in the forehead through a relatively small gap in the window. More remarkable was that, instinctively but against my normal grain, I then managed to exit a 2-door Ford Escort from the back seat, under the seatbelt and despite Otis in the front seat, in 2 seconds -- full cup on beer in hand. I dare say that never happened again in my life. It would take me 20 minutes if I tried today.

I dumped the contents of my cup in Jackalope’s lap (he was just as quick to get back into his car) with a quick cursing and braced for him to exit the vehicle and kick my lily-white ass. At that instant, the Lord showed mercy upon my soul and spake: “Is there a problem up there?”

Turns out it was one of Hampton’s finest and not the Lord, but He works in mysterious ways. Soon enough, Rob put it into Drive and we zipped off back to the safe haven of Williamsburg, chuckling heartily at my acrobatics, my faux-bravado, and the apology we had even induced from Jackalope as we waited awkwardly for the light to finally change.

Anyway . . . R.E.M. used to be one of the ones to see live at all costs, but the sun set on them some time ago, and these days acts like Wilco hold that title (Merriweather Post on Sunday was another fine gig). But they were a damn fine band at their peak.

Here’s an album’s worth of tunes that aren’t on any of their hits compilations; give ‘em another listen when you think of it.

“Maps & Legends”
“Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)”
“Moral Kiosk”
“Lightnin’ Hopkins”
“Swan Swan H”
“Harborcoat”
“Good Advices”
“Exhuming McCarthy”
“Catapult”
“Wolves, Lower”
“Wendell Gee”
“Ages of You”
“Laughing”
“Country Feedback”

And here's Pavement's take on R.E.M. It's cooler and more ridiculous than mine.

67 comments:

zman said...

What's the frequency Kenneth?

Squeaky said...

69MHz?

rob said...

the virginia association for the gifted (vag) has an unfortunate acronym.

Dave said...

i can still listen to "life's rich pageant" all the way through.

who was in the room on monroe when we spent three hours trying to figure out the lyrics to "don't go back to rockville"?

if we only had the internet.

Whitney said...

That was Hightower and me with you. That's three hours of idiot bonding you can't get in the Internet era.

Hightower is back on TV for those who get DirecTV (Universal Sports, 625).

rob said...

this bartman doc is so sad

Shlara said...

Whitney, that Hampton Coliseum story is hilarious. And Life's Rich Pageant is the best REM album, by far. It's one of my go-to weekend morning playlists.

TR said...

The part of that story where everybody is drinking in the car on Route 64 brings up a memory of the time Zman, Garrett Pendleton and I went with Shem and Kyle to a rave in Virginia Beach.

There is nothing more to add. I just want those of you who know the parties involved to think of that wrecking crew road-tripping to a Virginia Beach warehouse in the fall of 1992. We wandered aimlessly wondering why rave girls wouldn't talk to us while the techno remix of the Sesame Street theme blared. Good times.

Whitney said...

I have never been to a rave, and I'm pretty sure I'm about a generation too old to go now, but I can't imagine going with that assemblage of No. 2 necks and non-rocking ravers. TR, were you the token wild man they took so as not to stand out?

T.J. said...

I'm not a Redskins fan, but I did just crank out these 800+ words on some players:

http://sbn.to/pJBJxt

Whitney said...

Teej, is SB Nation your Raconteurs or your Big Audio Dynamite?

T.J. said...

My Traveling Wilburys, maybe?

Whitney said...

Excellent. I would suggest Asia but that would make GTB Yes.

T.J. said...

YES is so terrible.

TR said...

I was not a wild man. I was a 17 year-old kid in an awful flat top wearing a black turtleneck b/c the alternative girl on my floor told me people wear black to raves.

Somebody among our crowd said that if we walked around and rubbed our thumb and index fingers together, that would let folks know we wanted to buy special party favors. Thank God that didn't work out.

mayhugh said...

SB Nation not a fan of Fred Davis, who got reduced looks with a frisky Chris Cooley back in the lineup against Dallas.

TR - funny the things we did as teenagers because girls told us to. I remember one coed telling me silk shirts were hot, so I wore one to a September frat party. Things didn't end well.

rob said...

so mark, we're pretty much not talking until sunday, huh?

TR said...

Anybody else watching this ridiculous trio of games? Yanks blow a 7-run lead, Kimbrel blows a save and Sox try to avoid aborting. I am happy to still be on West Coast time, even if it ensures I will be dog shit tomorrow.

TR said...

So just me, huh?

T.J. said...

I'm watching, and it's awesome

T.J. said...

Orioles are going to need some Dan Johnson-esque magic

TR said...

My biggest complaint right now is that all 3 channels aren't back-to-back-to-back on my HD list. Only YES and ESPN2 are neighbors. I think I can manage.

Yanks are pretty much giving up by putting Proctor in. He is a bag of turds.

T.J. said...

Scott Linebrink looks 50 years old

TR said...

Yanks are playing 4 guys with averages under .200.

TR said...

Linebrink ran out of hair dye halfway through the job.

T.J. said...

Red Sox just got hosed on a call at first base

T.J. said...

Buck Showalter might have t choke a bitch.

TR said...

I predict this stat line:

Papelbon (BS, 3)

T.J. said...

The Braves are truly choking dogs if they lose this. And their fans who left during extra innings? Worst fans ever.

TR said...

This Reyes/Ted Williams storyline is tired already and it's only been 10 hours...

TR said...

I can confirm Uggla is no longer on the Marlins. I see him batting for Atlanta now.

T.J. said...

Well played.

TR said...

Proctorbortion underway...

T.J. said...

Dan Plesac is serving up a plethora of poorly formed thoughts on these games over on MLB Network

T.J. said...

Charlie Manuel looks like he escaped Shady Acres

TR said...

Sayonara Braves.

T.J. said...

Eric Chavez looks like Adrian Zmed, right?

TR said...

I prefer to get my baseball wisdom from Fernando Vina, who babbles in the Bay Area with that gawdawful goatee.

Unbelievable that Proctor made it through 2 innnings. It's now Noesi time.

TR said...

Chavez has a bit of Zmed to him. And Proctor looks like Thomas Haden Church.

TR said...

Greg Golson just raised his average 82 points with that infield single.

T.J. said...

Who's the NESN bunny in the red dress?

TR said...

Who would host the Rays-Sox play-in tomorrow?

T.J. said...

In Tampa, 4:07pm first pitch

TR said...

Yanks in good position right now to take the lead. I would love them to bring in Mo to lock it down. Won't happen, but would be awesome.

T.J. said...

Golson is such a donk

TR said...

Yanks botch having a guy on 3rd with no outs and the Orioles get tying run on 2nd base. Muy ridiculii.

TR said...

I can't believe I may have to leave two East Coast games at midnight to try to get some sleep.

T.J. said...

Yankee lineup currently has gaping, Lohan-sized holes in it

TR said...

Brett Gardner has turned into an automatic out. Look for him to ride the pine a lot in the playoffs.

T.J. said...

I very much dislike Brett Gardner's swing

TR said...

Papelbon: BS, 3

T.J. said...

Holy shit Nolan Reimold!

TR said...

If Sox lose, I want to see Girardi send a position player in to pitch. He may have no choice if the game goes to the 13th inning.

T.J. said...

Let Cone come out of the booth and pitch

TR said...

Holy shit, what a night. Flipping to Rays after Papelbon blows it and seeing Trop Field give a standing ovation to the O's win.

Fitting to see Crawford involved in the play.

T.J. said...

Buck showalter hates the fucking Red Sox so much

TR said...

I'm now actively rooting for the Rays, although they are struggling against the Yanks' AAA team right now.

TR said...

Longoria!

Holy shit. I think I need a beer.

T.J. said...

Jesus. Someone go check on rob.

TR said...

One good takeaway is that some nice kids in Latin America are going to have some nice Red Sox 2011 Playoffs shirts and hats soon.

T.J. said...

The Rays were down 7-0 in the eight inning. Dan Johnson last had a hit in late April, and he hits home run with two outs and two strikes.

TR said...

Bedtime. Good chatting with The Teej. This was a good warm-up for the impending slate of 4+ hour games coming up.

T.J. said...

Sleepy time indeed.

But seriously, someone check on rob

rob said...

best not to talk to me today

T.J. said...

Jer, BOTH the Red Sox and Braves blew bigger leads in less time than los Mets (I believe)

Whitney said...

Mets' collapse began Sept 12 if memory and MLC serve. But the lead was smaller, I believe.

But yeah, we do know the painful feeling.

Tim "Colombia" Watson said...

I thought that same. I didn't know that they were together but at least it was a great band. they even were in the Muppets shows. I can't wait to see the tribute that xlpharmacy will do for them (if they are keeping doing that every time that a band dies).