Below is the continuing correspondence between Matthew Marrone and myself regarding ‘Collapse Into Now’. You will be able to read Matthew’s correspondence at Records I Download Illegally @ Blogspot Dot Com.
When I heard the first line of the song 'Oh My Heart': ‘The kids have a new take, a new take on faith’ I have to be honest, Mr. ESPN-New York-Snuggie-Loving-Man that I thought of Breesus, the savior of the New Orleans Saints football team. My first question of course was whether Michael Stipe is following ESPN New York and watches Sportscenter on a daily basis and my second question was whether John Michael Stipe was aware of his birthmark. I guess it would be something of a new thing for Michael Stipe to delve into the sports arena from time to time and write a song about the "Football Team". I would hope that the line is about Breesus as I get the feeling that the New Orleans Saints literally played a bigger role into the faith of the city than some might give credit for.
The good news of course is that R.E.M. chose not to release another song about New Orleans AND the Sun. Of course, I am referencing, ‘In the Sun’, the Michael Stipe-covering-Joseph Arthur track which of course was for charity so we will keep the complaining down to a minimum.
I will also play the role of the cock-gobbler this time and admit that I somewhat liked the song. First impressions to be sure, I thought that the music was solid, more reminiscent of some of their 'Out of Time-era' work but also a bit of 'Sing for the Submarine/Worst Joke Ever' thing going on. It sounds a little less over-produced, a bit more authentic musically than the lackluster 'Discoverer' and more complete than 'It Happened Today'.
But there is something that is starting to bug me. The idea of using R.E.M. lyrics from previous songs ala - ‘Sing for the Submarine’ was a good idea that Michael Stipe is starting to get carried away with. It would be as if songs are all of a sudden getting put into some historical narrative. Michael Stipe has never so linear about events to the point that you could pretty much guess that the song was going to be about New Orleans or Katrina or just read the description of the song on NPR before you have a chance to hear it. Now we are to the point where Stipe will start updating the entire R.E.M. catalog so that all songs are brought properly into the 21st Century.
Madloop, ‘Will we get Country Feedback Part Two? ‘This DVD is on, on a maddening skip?’
Radio Song, part 33 1/3? ‘It’s that same viral video on youtube, makes me sad’
What I am referring to is: ‘The storm didn’t kill me, the government changed’ which is of course a very close resemblance to the lyric in Houston ‘If the storm didn’t kill me, the government will’. Yes, the new line, by itself is pretty clever and works but with being a total reference to ‘Houston’ all of a sudden loses it’s luster. Yes, the government changed but some might argue that the current government has still forgotten about New Orleans. This point is up for debate.
Does Houston all of a sudden lose any chance it has to be timeless? (Some might answer this question that it was not a timeless song to begin with, of course begs the question whether 'Accelerate' was a 'Return To Form'. Even NPR short-changed Accelerate by saying that this album is the best since Up. When liberal media organizations, the same liberal media organization that got rid of Juan Williams, now a multi-million dollar Fox News Correspondent also starts ripping into R.E.M., and yes that is a rip, that sorta makes the shit you read on my site pretty tame. )
I like this song, do not get me wrong. The music is very reminiscent from Out of Time, and from someone like myself who has given Stipe a bit of grief over lyrics I would think that we should mention a song like Country Feedback from that album.
Arguably the greatest R.E.M. song ever, at least if you are talking to Neil Young. When I compare ‘Oh My Heart’ against a song like 'Country Feedback' or 'Half A World Away' might be a better comparison, I am listening to a lead singer that is speaking the lyrics rather than putting any soul in them. I would guess that a song about New Orleans needs a little soul to feel truly authenti and the 'Out of Time' tracks feel much more authentic based more on the delivery of Stipe than on the lyrics. 'Country Feedback' repeats the same lyric over and over again. 'Half A World Away' is much the same, a very simple lyric repeated over and over again but given a different delivery than the delivery on 'Oh My Heart'.
And maybe that was what made some of the folksy stuff from the 90s so appealing was that R.E.M. was never playing the role of a folk band when they had a true crooner like Michael Stipe.
There are certain songs where a delivery like this would work well and I am just not sure that the delivery is correct for this song. Of course this is the dilemma of the first time listener trying to write a love letter to my favorite Cheating Yankee Fan.
The crux of the issue is that these slight modifications would turn a good song into a great song. Musically, it is very strong, as Mills and Buck are solid and based on the other two songs that have been released so far this is the strongest of the three.
Although as some that might read this, the shallow nature of my positive review might make some people cringe a bit. I would expect from you a totally positive fuck-Derek Jeter-up-the-ass type of review that we would expect from you. Because of course that is the role you are supposed to play, you know the likeable R.E.M. fan that loves everything and be the real fan.
So go put on your foofy Bunny Suit cause the fans are getting excited to read your enthusiastic response to this song and we can finally agree that there is an R.E.M. song on this album that we both like.
P.S. - BTW, to you girls out there who keep on asking me about whether Matthew is single, as far as I know he is but you can ask him yourself. Send him naked photos of yourself here. http://twitter.com/thebigm