12 March 2007

R.E.M.ember them?

When the Police reunited at the most recent Grammy awards I was happy. Not, like, ecstatic, because they hit the height of their popularity when I was around four years old. My primary memory of the group is seeing one of their album covers pasted into the window of the DJ booth at Roller Coast Skate World, a then-awesome roller skating rink in Hixson, Tennessee. (Hixson's a little suburb of Chattanooga, y'all. I lived there until I was eleven.)

Anyway, it's hard to feel super nostalgic for a band that made less of a blip on my young radar than the theme song to "The Electric Company." The only song that I remember loving at the skating rink was "Let's Hear It For The Boy" be Deneice Williams. Oh my God, you guys. Even at the age of six, I would lose my mind when I got to skate to that. I can remember being crouched down, arms stretched before me in a Superman flying pose, rolling around curves at what felt like 90 M.P.H., and almost blistering my throat while singing, "Let's give the boy a h-a-a-a-nd!" Amazing.

So I guess if Deneice Williams released some awesome new song, I'd feel a little nostalgic.

However, the sweetest pang of musical longing I've had in ages came with the announcment that R.E.M. has reunited, however briefly, with original drummer Bill Berry. They only got back together to cover a John Lennon song ("#9 Dream," to be precise) for a Darfur Charity Album called "Instant Karma." Lots of great acts will be on the record, including The Postal Service, Regina Spektor, Christina Aguilera, and Green Day--I know! It's like they asked me to suggest the talent pool!--but I'm particularly excited about R.E.M.

Because back when they were still a foursome, their music kicked every possible ass. "Out of Time?" Don't even. "Automatic for the People," "Green," "Document," "Murmur?" My case rests all up in the face of U2.

Sure, there were some missteps (i.e. everything on "Monster" that wasn't "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" "Strange Currency," or "Crush With Eyeliner"), but the R.E.M. foursome made so much great music that I can forgive them a whole bushel of bad songs. I can even forgive them, say, a series of underwhelming post-Berry albums. Well, no need to forgive "Up." That's a really good record. But everything past then... um... is not on my desert island list.

So even if it's only for four minutes, I'll be glad to hear the old gang. If it wouldn't conflict with the chronology I've created in this post, I might even go roller skating to the sound of their reunion. But it does conflict, so I won't. But still... the joy.

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