R.E.M. announced late yesterday that it is officially splitting up after a three-decade run as one the seminal bands in modern American music. The news of this break is sure to throw their fans into an intense memory whirlpool. I guarantee iTunes is experiencing a heavy influx of shoppers while recollections of R.E.M.’s vast oeuvre are strong today.
The official statement, released via the band’s site, reads: “”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.”
As a massive fan, a million thoughts rush to the surface. I’ll share some of them with you (please feel free to comment with your own experiences):
- The first time I saw the Losing My Religion video…
- The collaborations: Musical – Patti Smith, Kate Pierson (of the B-52s), KRS-One, Thurston Moore and Q-Tip, among many others; and artistically: Albert Maysles, James Franco, Sophie Calle and Sam Taylor Wood – the list goes on and on.
- Playing out our own version of Nightswimming at summer camp in 1993.
- Finally relating to my parents on a current, chart-topping band.
- So much time spent with the liner notes to every single album. Remember liner notes? Remember the way a cassette smelled when you ripped the cellophane off?
- The profound impact on and support given by Stipe to Kurt Cobain.
- Memorizing the lyrics to You Are The Everything, which I still remember:
“Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing
I’m very scared for this world
I’m very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here’s a scene
You’re in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around to the sound
of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace and absolute stillness
still that doesn’t end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone you are the everything”
Out on newsstands this week is the new issue of Dossier, which includes an interview I did with Stipe. Our conversation focused primarily on his artwork. Below are a selection of images Stipe chose to accompany the piece.
Corner shot from Andrea Rosen bathroom, NYC
Hermetic JFK, sculpture by Michael Stipe
Pyrite image, faxed and shittily scanned
From Stipe’s Corner series