buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky

there was once a time when REM was my favorite band. the first time i'd ever seen them was on an old tv show called solid gold. it was basically a weekly top ten countdown. the world-famous solid gold dancers would do (godawful) interpretive dances for each of the songs, and there was comedy (anyone remember wayland flowers and madame?) and musical guests as well. i didn't really like REM that time i saw them. michael stipe had on this ghastly paisley shirt and i wasn't into it at all. they sang some song where he kept saying "i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i'm sorry", which was pretty much all i could understand. that song turned out to be "south central rain", which is on the "reckoning" album. this would make 1984 to be the year of my initial contact.

3-4 years later, "document" came out. "the one i love" was all over the place, you couldn't listen to the radio without hearing it at least a few times an hour. not remembering that first experience, REM became one of my favorite bands. the memories came flooding back when i picked up "reckoning" and listened to it in my bedroom. i remember being really surprised when the chorus of "south central rain" first kicked in. man, i wish i could see that expression on my face again, it was probably amusing.

there is another particular REM memory that stands out for me. in 95, i finally had my first chance to see them live. this girl i knew, eve, was working part time at the venue where they were playing, basically working there so she could see shows. she got me in for both shows. the first night, my friend jennifer t (from high school) came along. she's the one that snapped that pic of the embarcadero freeway, which i posted recently.

so anyways, we're at the show and we're next to these three very obnoxious girls. long story short, i end up arguing with them all for about twenty minutes and getting them kicked out. it was funny, people were actually thanking me after the girls were gone.

a better memory is when REM were playing at the bridge school benefit in 97. quick aside: the bridge school is a school for children with severe speech and physical impairments. one of neil young's kids was enrolled, i believe. he puts on this benefit to raise money for the school every year, inviting many different artists to come and play. so yeah, in this case, REM were scheduled to play. this was right before "up" was released. i went with my then girlf, nicole. she kinda wanted to leave but i really wanted to see REM. so we waited thru the worst fucking set ever: phish. i dunno what it is, it seems as if i might like them, but i just don't get those guys. so REM finally come on and one of the songs they played is "at my most beautiful". it was sooooo perfect. i'm usually not the mushy boyf type, but those lyrics were so us it was ridiculous. she and i just kept looking at each other and laughing. it was amazing to be there with the girl i was mad about, listening to one of my all time favorite bands seemingly singing about us. anyways...

south central rain (live on later with jools holland 1998)
arms of love
fall on me (live athens 1992)
at my most beautiful (live on later with jools holland 1998)

love is all around
dream (all i have to do)


Stef said...

REM are one of those bands I've been aware of for years as my uncle was really into their early stuff. Then of course they went global.

I kinda dug some of their tracks but -shame on me- I always found their poppier stuff the best, the more introspective stuff never spoke to me.

In the 70s on the TV chart show here in the UK called Top of the Pops they used to have dancers performing to all the songs. The dance troupe were called Legs & Co... They had quite a following and were solely responsible for exposing middle aged fathers to the pop music of the time!

robot_hero said...

if you're up to giving REM another try, the IRS (label) stuff is timeless and very worth seeking out.

tops of the pops, solid gold...pretty much the same show, eh?