Songlines Across New Zealand
  IT’S THE END OF R.E.M AS WE KNEW THEM (and we feel sad)
 

 A small look back on the band from the great beyond 

My relationship with R.E.M’s music started Roughly 20 years ago I was sitting in front of a tv watching a music video show anyway this one video that caught my attention its in black and white and the lead singer walking along a desert road that video/song with its hauntingly beautiful melodies was Man On The Moon by R.E.M. It is with a heavy heart that I write this article as most of you may or may not know on the 22nd of September 2011 one of the greatest rock bands to come from America announced with a message through their website that they were parting ways, when I read this shock set in and I started listening to what I had on hand and while listening I decided I would write an article to pay tribute to one of my favourite American Bands who also celebrated three anniversaries this year but I will bring those up later on in this article.
We go back to the beginning, the year 1980 to a city called Athens in the US State of Georgia where singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry would form a band that would eventually become One of the first popular alternative rock bands the bands name R.E.M.
When 1981 rolled around the band released their first single entitled Radio Free Europe (2011 marks the 30th anniversary of this release) which would be followed by in 1982 their first ep entitled Chronic Town. In December of 82 the guys would start the recording process for their debut album entitled Murmur which would be released on April the 13th 1983 it contained a rerecorded version of Radio Free Europe which would be a single along with Talk About The Passion.
Over the years of R.E.M’s life span the band have been connected with numerous TV pop culture aspects ranging from an appearance on the kids show Sesame Street performing a street friendly version of shiny happy people into a song about furry happy monsters, another pop culture phenomenon that has had the band has appear on their show is The Simpsons, they appeared in the third episode of the thirteenth season entitled Homer the Moe. Their songs have also been used in pop culture tv shows such as family guy and even Smallville as well as played often in Friends (Rumour has it initially Shiny Happy People was to be the theme song of Friends).
When 1999 rolled around a film was in development about Andy Kaufman REM were to do a score for this film (who else would be perfect for this role especially since they already had one song under their belt dedicated to Andy all they had to do was write another one which ended up being great beyond)
Lets now move forward to the year 2011, on March 8th the band release their 15th fantastic (and inevitable ) final album entitled Collapse Into Now (funnily enough released 20 years exactly after out of time released march 8th 1991) In July of 2011 the guys made it back into the recording studio where it began in Athens and recorded three brand new tracks A Month of Saturdays, We All Go Back To Where We Belong and Hallelujah all were intended for a brand new album but ended up being the final salute/closing tracks on their retrospective album Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011.The final single we all go back to where we belong has a beach boys laid back retirement feel to it which is understandable with these 3 tracks being the final REM recordings ever, so in the end basically it ended where it began in Athens, Georgia.
On September 21st 2011 it would be a bad day for fans of this great band, the band announced that they were splitting it left a lot of fans upset and in mourning (me being one of those fans) I recall reading the news and just opening up my media player and just listening to what I had loaded into the REM play list and with career spanning 31 years hey have a huge collection of hits under their belts along with 15 albums and multiple compilation albums it wasn’t hard to put together a play list along with one last bow in the form of a Definitive retrospective due out on the 14th of November (although to fans 40 songs is not definitive to fans definitive would mean everything R.E.M have ever recorded and released). To some fans this was like a break up of a long term relationship.
In my opinion REM are like a fine bottle of wine the further in time you get they sound even better (not that in saying they sounded bad at anytime) It may not be the end of the world as we know it but it is the end of the REM story according to SANZ. We will never forget what this fantastic band contributed to the music scene over the past 31 years they were together they were a high energy band till the end The music and songs are very down to earth and honest. This was originally going to be a big flashy article to talk about how great the band was (still are in my books and many fans books) but I came to the realisation the band didn’t need a big farewell tour or even a big press conference when they announced they were splitting. They did it in a small manor via their website with a message saying "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.
The following list is R.E.M's album discography

1 Murmur (1983)
2 Reckoning (1984)
3 Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
4 Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
5 Document (1987)
6 Green (1988)
7 Out of Time (1991)
8 Automatic for the People (1992)
9 Monster (1994)
10 New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996) 11 Up (1998)
12 Reveal (2001)
13 Around the Sun (2004)
14 Accelerate (2008)
15 Collapse into Now (2011)
Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011.

My closing statement regarding the songs of R.E.M is that their songs ring out sweet melodies great and sometimes whimsical lyrics which are easily stuck in your head on behalf of those at Songlines Across New Zealand I wish the guys all the best on their future projects.
 
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