Friday, September 23, 2011

Speaking of Music . . .

R.E.M.'s Reckoning Cover
As that most spiritual of all the Beatles, George Harrison, said: "All things must pass." And so it is with all rock bands. Hence the departure of R.E.M. from the scene. The band has decided to fold its tents after a long life of over thirty years. The news has put my daughter in mourning and greatly saddened my oldest son. Apparently R.E.M.'s retirement is analogous to the breakup of the Beatles for my generation, only R.E.M. was around for a lot longer. There's a long appreciation of the band in an article in Slate., and other write-ups all over the place.

I have to confess that the band was never one of my favorites, although for my kids, especially my daughter Tanya, the oldest, this was one of those bands around in your most formative years. Like the '60s bands--Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks--were for my generation. And as far as I'm concerned, R.E.M.'s best work was their earliest work. Murmur, Life's Rich Pageant, Fables of the Reconstruction, Reckoning, Document. I had all of these albums on cassette tape*, and I can remember playing them quite a bit. By the time the band had moved into the '90s, I wasn't listening to them much anymore. I just didn't think their stuff nearly as good as the early years. This isn't unusual, by the way. It's true of most rock bands. Which is to say, relatively short-lived bands and highly influential bands such as the Beatles, Nirvana, The New York Dolls, and The Velvet Underground die before their creative juices start to atrophy. They don't have bad albums to drag around as part of their history. Alas, that can never be said of groups that last thirty years. Nonetheless, it's always sad to witness the demise of something once great.
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