I was surprised, but not at all shocked, when I read the news that the great R.E.M. had decided to call it quits after 30 years of making some of the best rock music of all time. I saw R.E.M. live twice, at roughly opposite ends of their prodigious career. I first saw them perform in the early 80’s at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. About 20 years later I was fortunate enough to see them perform again, when they were one of the bands that played at Street Scene, in downtown San Diego in 2003. I consider this band from Athens, GA the best American band of the last 30 years and one my 5 favorite rock bands of all time (the others being The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and U2).
I will be adding a lot more to this post later. I just wanted to get it up on the blog now because I think it is appropriate to post a few thoughts on the day of their formal end.
Since the news of R.E.M.’s breakup hit I have been reading a lot of the comments posted on You Tube threads related to R.E.M. video’s and I have been a little surprised at just how diverse the band’s fan is now. They truly have a large international following and a fan base that now spans multiple generations. I think it is pretty cool that they have so many fans who are teens right now.
On a side note, yes, I am well aware that the members of R.E.M. are big liberals, at least Stipe is, that’s for sure. I don’t care about their politics or their activism. I separate that from their music. Many of my favorite entertainers hold political views that I don’t necessarily agree with, but that doesn’t influence my appreciation of their work.
Update: Here are a few of my favorite R.E.M. videos, including a couple from the 1984 show at the aforementioned Capitol Theatre. I discovered the videos from the Capitol Theatre show just a few days ago and I was very surprised to find them on YT. That is so cool. The Capitol Theatre no longer exists, but it was a very popular venue for many bands back in the 70’s and 80’s.
This article from The Atlantic makes the case that R.E.M. is the best American band ever assembled….
R.E.M.: America’s Greatest Band