REM calls it a day
After 31 years REM decides to call it a day and party ways amicably
31 years ago REM (R.E.M.) formed out of four individuals with a passion for good music, so it’s only natural that they feel the same way as they part ways, amicably. On September 21, 2011 the three remaining band members of REM (Michael Stipes, Mike Mills and Peter Buck) announced on their website REMHQ it was time to call it a day.
“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” R.E.M.
Some of you may be wondering if I was even born when REM entered into the music scene back in 1980. Let me answer that for you now, no. So how does a 25 year old like me come across a story highlighting the original pioneers of alternative rock? Simple. Jamming out driving, belting out at karoake or snapping into my snowboard, my mind is no stranger to REM hits like Losing My Religion, Man on the Moon and It’s the End of the World of We Know It. Therefore when readers wrote to me requesting an article covering why REM decided to call it quits last Wednesday I jumped right on it, curious as to what could cause a group like them to call it quits. Competing with the American spies being released from Iran, aka journalists who were trying to get a story, the news of the legendary group’s separation seemed sparse, however it symbolizes that the music world is just not what it used to be when REM first broke onto the scene.
4 young men got together in Athens, Georgia during 1980 and set about pioneering the world of alternative rock. Stumbling into a local record store, Michael Stipe, future lyricist for REM met Peter Buck, bassist for REM, as he was browsing the punk rock and protopunk section. Both young men had a similar love for music and immediately hit it off. Attending the University of Georgia, Stipe and Buck would find their future drummer and guitarist in classmates Bill Berry and Mike Mills who had already been playing together since high school. REM was formed and the four set out, unintentionally capitalizing on local gigs, changing the world of alternative rock in ways they never would have imagined.
How do I describe REM? Well different, however I choose to define them as original. From choosing the band name out of a dictionary at random, to a career in rock characterized by atypical lyrics, jumping over hurdles and plowing through bumps, REM opened the party in the 80’s stayed for the 90’s and through 2000.
“During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective; we started to ask ourselves ‘what next?’” Mike Mills said on the group’s REMHQ page. “Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together. The time just feels right.”
What do others have to say about REM calling it a day? Warner Bros. Forbes quoted records chairman and producer Rob Cavallo, “To call R.E.M. one of the greatest bands in contemporary music is an understatement. They leave behind a body of work whose breadth, honesty, creativity and power has not only inspired millions of fans around the world, but also has influenced – and will continue to influence – generations of songwriters and performers for years to come.”
Many people in my generation know the name Kurt Cobain, however Nirvana was all about giving REM kudos for inspiring them. Unfortunately in a music industry dominated by the next best overnight done by day sensation, REM has to pay dues in order to receive them. Been there done that, so the three original band members of REM decided to call it a day.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in 2007 REM has had an amazing run and has stuck through it until they decided they had enough. In 1997 Bill Berry left the group after suffering an aneurysm on stage during a performance, the group continued on as though they were a three legged dog who just needed to learn how to run without its fourth leg. Paving the way for college radio, Warner Brothers plans to honor REM by releasing a greatest hits album in November just 8 months after their latest album, Collapse into Now debuted. Coldplay honored REM while on stage in Atlanta by pulling away from their musical agenda so lead singer Chris Martin could honor his favorite band of all time with a few choice words and a lullabye rendition of Everybody Hurts according to the Atlanta Music Scene.
Calling the band one of his favorites of all time who “for some crazy reason have finished,’ Martin said, humbly, that he and Coldplay wanted to play a song, “with the most respect in the world, to show how much they meant to us.”
At least with bands like Coldplay still around there is hope for the music world. I hate to even call people like Rebecca Black and Keisha musicians, sorry I do. Perhaps that is how REM felt when Michael Stipe, known for producing REM’s unique lyrical style, announced that they were parting ways.
“A wise man once said–‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.”-Michael Stipe, REM
Coldplay pays REM tribute in Atlanta