It was something of a shock to hear that R.E.M. officially disbanded today. Mostly I felt the need to reach out to my friend and partner blah-gger at West Lawn Park, fearing the worst but hoping for the best. True to form, Slider wrote a contented-sounding and loving tribute to his favorite band.
My favorite band disbanded nine years before I was born, so it always comes as a shock to me when current bands break up. This is how it’s supposed to be, though. Our idols grow and change as we do. That is part of what makes art so compelling; it can only be made at a particular point in an artist’s life and at a particular point in history. Art is the most human thing we can do. (Saving children from a warehouse fire is the most humane thing we can do.)
I discovered R.E.M.’s album New Adventures in Hi-Fi at just the right time in my life. My senior year of college was definitely a time of transition, and the restless energy of an album recorded while on tour clicked with me. I played the heck out of that album through my last year as a student and during the month-long road trip I took with my friend Andy immediately afterward. Even now it’s hard to pick out single songs to play. I have to listen to it in one piece. Okay, maybe with the exception of Electrolite, which is one of the most beautiful songs ever put to plastic. Play that at night, on repeat, and dream.