So, this happened.
I’ve been a fan of R.E.M. for a long time, well over 20 years. I heard them on the radio growing up, but an old friend in high school was the one who really got me into them. I really only knew the stuff they played on the radio, but he gave me a mix tape (remember those?) of all their older stuff and I was hooked.
I wasn’t really prepared for the many emotions and thoughts that hit me throughout the day this was announced. I know this sounds dramatic, but this was a band I grew up with, that I saw in concert many times, a band I actually met backstage after one of their shows. Almost every significant moment of my life I had associated with their music.
I wasn’t as bummed out about the future being one without new music from them, but instead I had looked back on my life and thinking about that January morning I waited outside for hours for concert tickets, having a beer in the same room as Peter Buck and Mike Mills after a show, trying to write down the lyrics to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), getting all their new CDs on the first day, cranking “You Are The Everything” as I drove around at night when I lived in Alaska…the news of the break up triggered all those moments I associated with their music.
So it was like a going through a mental photo/memory album these last few days. I’ve been very introspective since this was announced. I thought about doing a short Uptown Girl story to help me sort my thoughts out. I couldn’t really nail down anything down that sounded interesting. There’s a lot of me that goes into the stories and I try to make things subtle and vague and the story I was sort of writing in my head was TOO much me. So I scrapped it.
Having never gone through a favorite band breaking up before I thought this was a new experience and a good chance I could write something interesting without it being simply Uptown Girl thinking the same thoughts I was. I was also spending a lot of time on fan websites reading people’s thoughts about the break up, the band, the past and the future. There is one site in particular that I’ve been going to almost daily for almost 20 years. The fans on the site were also long time fans who were very passionate and opinionated about the band.
Fandom of anything is interesting to me. You have a group of fans who love something (a band, comic book characters, video games) but hate everything about it. R.E.M. fans were no different. Over the years I’d read fans complaining about EVERYTHING. The music, the tours, where they played, where they didn’t play, their concerts, the songs they played, the songs they didn’t play, the songs they put on their compilation CDs…I could go on. I was always amazed at how many R.E.M. fans hated R.E.M.
And in that thought I found my story.
And here it is.