More Responses To R.E.M.’s Retirement

“More so than the sound, R.E.M. was revolutionary in the way they took the egalitarian ideals of punk rock — the idea of taking down the barriers between spectator and spectacle — and applied it to music that seemed to hold the potential for broader commercial impact. As portrayed in their early magazine interviews (and before the internet, that’s how we music nerds learned about the groups that mattered), they came across as unassuming music lovers who — less by force of will than by luck — found themselves onstage with instruments, playing to a crowd that was initially composed of friends, but quickly became a cult phenomenon, and then an arena attraction. Even after all the available evidence suggested R.E.M. had transformed into something quite extraordinary, they still managed to present as music enthusiasts first and foremost — one of us fans.”

Paul Cantin on the No Depression blog

“But somehow it turned out I HAD heard all that early stuff, it drifted into my ears when I wasn’t listening, and when someone played “Eponymous” I thought, I know nearly ALL of these songs and I’m psyched to hear the other ones, too, and damn, these are beautiful-sounding, intriguingly (if mysteriously voiced) worded songs. And the hits…I loved “Out of Time” and never actively disliked “Shiny Happy,” b/c I love the Beach Boys too, and a hook’s a hook and sometimes who gives a shit about the lyrics?”

Peter Ames Carlin

“So in the end, R.E.M. bowed out gracefully. Given the world into which they were born, all of the band members must have been conscious that, however big their tour income, they weren’t putting out significant albums anymore. What idealistic post-punk wanted to be that cliché? Instead they chose to cap off a career with as much grace and integrity as any other I can think of. The band never sold their songs to a soft-drink company; they never tried to do larger-than-life stadium tours like U2. Artists from Kurt Cobain to Warren Zevon to Uncle Tupelo to Patti Smith have found them generous with their time and influence. R.E.M. left behind six or eight albums that rank with the best of their era, and the members got to do what few can claim: watch an artistic revolution they helped spark change the world. Not bad for a goddamned ’80s band.”

Bill Wyman on

“It’s like the bald man said: bad day. At least for some of us. I know there are those among you who never got it or didn’t care or were too young or too dumb to bother. I know there are many reasonable people collecting paychecks and raising children in this very America for whom “Everybody Hurts” or “Shiny Happy People” can exist only in the space where Wimpiness and Pussiness get together to do unspeakable things to each other on grandma’s favorite quilted duvet. But trust a bitter, old, forever-youngish, middle-aged man for a second: To a certain kind of person (white, relatively privileged, vaguely annoying) living through a certain kind of ’80s (white, relatively privileged, vaguely annoying), R.E.M. was the gateway band — the gateway to the cooler bands, to bigger ideas, better politics, to culture itself, the way to slip out of something and into something else.”

Jon Dolan on

“We all looked up to them, not really as idols or rock stars, but more like the cool dudes that you bought weed from who dabbled in photography and worked at the local record shop.”
Dave Grohl–Nirvana

“Despite their influence, the changing shape of the music industry means they have surprisingly few successors. Apart from Radiohead, how many existing bands can boast the same mix of commercial reach and off-the-wall creativity as REM at their peak? So the question should be not where it went wrong – they grew older; they became less interesting; it happens – but how on earth, for at least a decade, they got it so right.”

Dorian Lynskey, The Guardian


3 thoughts on “More Responses To R.E.M.’s Retirement

  1. Thanks for making me laugh on this rather mournful day. I will indeed be putting down some thoughts on this collapse–especially since I just re-read Moneyball and saw the movie. It is indeed an unfair game–even if you have money.

    My quick take–Sox pitching was wildly inconsistent and they seemed to leave an awful lot of men on base. Can you quantify things like heart and desire? When things went south it seems like most of the team went all Dante on us (abandon all hope, ye who enter . . . )

    April: Worst team in baseball
    May-August: best team in baseball
    September: worst team in baseball


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