Thursday, September 22, 2011

Remembering R.E.M.

As has been widely reported, R.E.M. announced on September 21 that they were breaking up. Sure, lots of legitimate and facetious criticism could be leveled at them:

  • They sold out when Michael Stipe stopped mumbling and started enunciating.
  • They sold out when they accepted induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before the Monkees were inducted.
  • They should have broken up when drummer Bill Berry retired from the band.
But to give them their due, they had many significant accomplishments. Among them:
  • They didn't move the mountain. The mountain moved to the them. When they emerged in the early 1980s, their sound was far removed from what was popular. It took years for them to score big hits, but their sound changed less over that time than did the tastes of listeners.
  • They are one of the last bands for which fans knew all the band members' names, which speaks to how much each of them contributed to the whole effort.
  • They were gracious to the very end. Take a look at the statements from each of the band members.
  • For a generation of their fans (this writer included), R.E.M. defined a period in musical history and period in their lives. They epitomized a world of musical possibility beyond all that was sleek and shiny as something that could be personal and quirky, yet embraced by many for that very reason.
Explore their legacy in our collection with works by and about the band.

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