I have to admit, I had very mixed feelings when it was officially announced two days ago that after 31 years R.E.M. was hanging it up. This band was destined to be one of my favorite bands of all-time due to the brilliant run they had on I.R.S. records back in the eighties. Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Life’s Rich Pageant and Document were all released between 1982-1987, each release one year apart. That is an incredible output for any band. What made R.E.M. so unique was their steadfast refusal during that time to sell out, remaining a college radio staple during the I.R.S. years.
However, after the release of Document and their #9 single from that album, “The One I Love”, they became mega-stars and it made sense for the band to bolt for the greener pastures of Warner Brothers. I am glad they did. They still remained true to their philosophy and created music they liked first and foremost. The only difference now was the mainstream world of music finally figured out what a great band they were. Problem is, many long-time fans still felt the band had already made its best music. I felt that way. I’m glad they became huge but I sure did miss that jangly guitar sound and Stipe’s completely indecipherable lyrics.
2008’s Accelerate was the only other R.E.M. album that made an impression on me. Therefore, and I hate to say it this way, the band quit being relevant for me personally years ago. Again that is just me. They have sold millions of albums since 1987’s Document, so I am definitely wrong about them being irrelevant for the past 24 years.
It has been fun going though their catalog and picking out my personal Top 20 R.E.M. Songs of All-Time. I included one video for each and tried to find a variety of performances, most of them being live videos. There are a couple from their first television appearance ever on Letterman, a great performance from the I.R.S. Records “The Cutting Edge” show that I remember seeing on MTV and one clip from their outstanding “MTV Unplugged” performance.
Thanks for many great years of music gentlemen and thanks for staying true to yourselves the whole time.
- Feeling Gravity’s Pull – Fables of the Reconstruction
- Pretty Persuasion – Reckoning
- Fall on Me – Life’s Rich Pageant
- Driver 8 – Fables of the Reconstruction
- Radio Free Europe – Murmur
- So. Central Rain – Reckoning
- Second Guessing – Reckoning
- 7 Chinese Brothers – Reckoning
- The One I Love – Document
- Ages of You – Dead Letter Office
- Life and How to Live It – Fables of the Reconstruction
- Auctioneer/Another Engine – Fables of the Reconstruction
- Maps and Legends – Fables of the Reconstruction
- Pilgrimage – Murmur
- Begin the Begin – Life’s Rich Pageant
- Harbourcoat – Reckoning
- 9-9 – Murmur
- Windout – Dead Letter Office/Bachelor Party soundtrack
- Letter Never Sent – Reckoning
- Orange Crush – Green