R.E.M. for me is listening to “Burning Down” with my Ipod and earbuds while traveling on public transportation and taking in the big city in the morning. It might be because I was taken back by the energy of the song the first time that I heard the bootleg, ‘Georgia Peaches – Ripe’ an early concert recording of the band in April 1981, a year after their formation. Through the hiss and possible speed issues with the recording itself (I believe it was mastered too fast, although I fixed my copy), there was an energy that I was immediately piqued by. While the song is not listed as one of their best, only getting so far as an early B-Side, it’s never faulted for giving me a happy vibe. The song is just an example of where the music can take you, such as it on random and letting those moments speak for themselves.
I have thought about moments such as this as I considered the thought of REMring back in my life. When I had abruptly stopped blogging about R.E.M., it was after ‘Collapse into Now’, an album that I was just not too keen on to say the least. It was ‘R.E.M. By Numbers’, which of course was exactly what it was trying to be and for that, you might be able to give the band a couple brownie points for. My question was, could the blog function in the same manner that it had previous to this, a fan like myself that might have been sitting too close to the speakers drinking the wrong flavor of koolaid, or did something have to change?
Since I had stopped, the band chose to stop as well, only a couple short months later, which threw everyone for a loop. While I had commented publically that the band should throw in the towel, it was still a shock because I didn’t expect them to do it. Time was necessary to clear my mind of some of the emotional hang-ups and reconsider their place, not only in my own life but try to do it the proper way.
I had thought briefly about turning the site into an “R.E.M. Tour Watch” as a joke whereby the site would be the first to break any news about a possible R.E.M. tour and I would encourage fans to check back regularly for any developments regarding a tour. There would have been the perpetual “No R.E.M. is still not going to go on tour, check back later” banner and that would have just stayed up there for perpetuity. Since I was not really active in checking the site and the band is not going to ever tour again at least the site would always be “Up to date”.
I considered other thoughts about leaving where I stopped but that was just not in the cards. The band is not active anymore so there is not much to speculate on. There are plenty of sites right now, which do a fine job in relaying any news bits of what the members of the band are up to and news about albums are typically few and far between.
Locally, here in Chicago, a popular radio personality by the name of Teri Hemmert, hosts a local program on WXRT called “Breakfast with the Beatles”. In it, she digs deep within the recesses of Beatlemania to find the rarer moments that give the fans a deeper perspective of the band. At that point it dawned on me that this would be the direction that I would take it.
So I have decided to put together weekly hour-long podcasts, which catch our fearless foursome and cohorts at their best and worst. Instead of offering my own rambling commentary in-between the songs, I figured it would be better to just let the music lead the way with my notes outside the columns for the readers to digest what they just heard. I did this because 1) I ramble and 2) I did not want to break away from the music.
And so, I have been on the verge of putting together several podcasts at once, each offering a glimpse of the band via live, demo and rare tracks. These would be weekly installments that would be best listened to per your discretion, whether it is with bacon and eggs or a bottle of whiskey lying on the floor staring at the ceiling in your underwear.
As we progress through the weekly shows I would expect in the future to see shows featuring a particular album, era, person or theme. Between the shows you might see me pop in with an opinion about this or that or some other thoughts from the worlds 3,207th biggest R.E.M. fan.
A couple of other announcements before I proceed:
Contact/Comments: If you want to contact/comment on anything that I have posted/written, feel free to use the Contact option at the top of the screen. I have closed the ability to comment on the site itself after receiving so much spam, my website host started complaining. I am always open to criticism as long as the thoughts are well thought out. My opinion is just one of many and it is not the right opinion. I will plan to post in REM Fans United Facebook page as well.
I do take requests. If you are looking for a particular era, song, .etc, I will try to appease you the best I can, however, since I am planning many of these beforehand it might be a couple weeks before you actually hear anything. Quality is important as well. If it’s from a show that is subpar, it’s probably going to get vetoed.
Happy Birthday R.E.M. – Yes, I got this in under the buzzer! A beginning on the day they formed. Through thick and thin, good and bad, your music has always been a constant in my life and I hope that this project allows for individuals to appreciate the band for years to come.
First podcast will be tomorrow (Sunday) and happy to be back again!