So, farewell, then, R.E.M.
Well, seeing as I've loved them since I was yea high, I couldn't let the end pass without a little something.
Get me maudlin enough and I will tell you how all I wanted to be pretty much between the ages of 13 and 16 was to play rhythm guitar behind Peter, and I still have a hankering that one day I'll actually be able to both afford and justify buying a Rickenbacker 335, cherry red obviously.
Ask me to interrogate myself a bit more deeply and I will readily concede that most if not everything I learnt about art and politics, or more correct to say the sources that I should go and pursue, came in one form or another via an interview or a lyric.
Heavens, I even managed to get a music GCSE off the back of stealing an arpegiated riff from Life's Rich Pageant, and turning that into my one and only successful composition ever.
And that's even before I begin to try and collate the number of afternoons, late nights, speed ups, break ups, slow downs, journeys and general tomfoolery they've soundtracked in one way or other over the past 20 years, for me.
Even now, I can't escape. As I type, on the shelf above my head, is a 3" Japanese CD version of 'At My Most Beautiful', which I now realise has come with me everywhere I've lived pretty much since 1998.
So, anyway, my fave tracks, as they stand at the moment, but ask me tomorrow and no doubt this list would be wildly different. And there's very few bands whose canons can stand up successfully to that sort of sincere, hand-wringing fickleness.
Romance: micro-symphony, with despairing disguised as shoulder-shrugging refrain:
E-Bow The Letter: The best lyric I think Stipe has ever written, with a couplet that's both endlessly modern and timeless.
Finest Worksong: You know, just in case you ever forgot that they were a rock band as much as anything else. (BTW, I can't find the should-have-been horns mix to post, which is on 'Eponymous' and just better.)
Moral Kiosk: Probably the most elliptical thing on one of the most elliptical records ever, who knows what it means? What it does for me is take me back to a time when a wise manipulator of men, Mr Dawson, decided to make English classes more fun by putting Matt and me on a table with three of the most beautiful girls in year 9. Naturally we displayed our maturity by retreating into trying to gabble the lyrics to this to them. As tactic to repel teenage girls, it has not been bettered.
All The Best: Like a good pair of 501s, sometimes the old new stuff is as good as the old old stuff, if you see what I mean.
Labels: REM RIP