My First Love
R.E.M. was born in 1980. I was 14 in 1987 when I heard my first R.E.M. song “The One I Love.” I would discover later that this was just one song from an album that would change my life, well as much as your life can change when your 14. That one song would open my music world. Up until this point growing up, I was listening to the radio or what ever my parents were listing to. This was mine – this song, this sound – finally something that spoke to me. The worst part……no internet. How at 14 do you find more songs by this band? The answer….MTV! We didn’t have cable at this time growing up, enter my buddy David Stokes. Dave, he had cable, he had MTV, but had he heard of R.E.M. yet?
Of course he had I was the one late to the R.E.M. discovery. Dave proceeded to show me a couple of video’s he recorded from MTV. There was no turning back after seeing the video for “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Document was the first R.E.M. album I bought. I actually had to buy a second cassette within the first 3-4 months because I wore out the first one. When I learned that this was not their first album, I was in search for everything I could find. There was just something that spoke to me about their music. I can’t say that it was the lyrical content back then because I didn’t always understand what Michael Stipe was trying to say. So I would have to say it was and still is to a large degree, the tone of his voice against the music of Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry.
As time went on, I not only grabbed any music I could find but also any media. At one time I had so much R.E.M. stuff that I even thought it was borderline obsessive. So I only keep a couple of select items and of course all the music I had. But as we all know over the years moving from place to place things get lost. I may have lost most of my cassettes but luckily I never lost a record.
Dave and I listened to R.E.M. all the time. We always talked about seeing them live. It seemed like that would never happen. They weren’t touring then, and when they were touring they didn’t come anywhere close to us. Until 1995, they finally came around us. It was the year after we got out of high school. Dave and I went to the Hampton Coliseum to finally see R.E.M. It was well worth the wait. To this day, this is one of the live shows in my top 5.
And, to this day R.E.M. still holds a special place in my life. Don’t get me wrong. There were a couple of songs they released that I wasn’t fond of. Please let’s not bring up “Shiny Happy People” or “Stand”. Although that’s not a bad track record when you figure they have released 15 studio albums over a 30 year period. It’s bitter sweet to see them disband, but no matter, R.E.M. will always be my first love.
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