Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.I.P. R.E.M.

Yeah, so R.E.M. retired yesterday, and yeah, I'm joining the nostalgia club.

(P.S.  This song.  As of today. Is my new favorite.  I swear.)

But only because I grew up in a time when my rock-n-roll knowledge came from watching Night Tracks on SuperStation WTBS every couple Friday nights, and MTV wasn't easily available, and there was no Internet-streaming radio or YouTube and we lived 2 hours from any cool radio station, for years only exposed to twang country and the Best Light-Rock Hits of the 60s, 70s and Today.

Then I went to college and made it to my junior year in 1993 and joined the newspaper staff. Alan was the editor and he ran the CD player on production nights and little else but Nirvana's Nevermind and R.E.M. got played that whole year. Alan owned all their CDs, but Automatic for the People had just come out the year before and it became the newsroom favorite ... even as none of us knew what any of the songs were actually trying to say. Alan, as a (now-reformed) music snob and self-proclaimed taste arbiter, once bluffed, "Yeah, I'd figure that of all their albums that would be the one you'd like because it's the most commercial."

Who gave a shit? Along with Out of Time, Automatic for the People got me through my junior year and my senior year and several years after and "Everybody Hurts" is still the world's greatest anthem to get and stay depressed to. An obsession and appreciation for the syncopated cello riffs on Sweetness Follows didn't come until just last year. And who can forget that aching piano cadence (learned and repeated endlessly, natch) on Nightswimming..... which, once titillating to a college student who couldn't imagine ever having the guts to skinny-dip and who now appreciates so many R.E.M. songs from so many different albums she's not going to get into listing them, is 20 years later still one of the Best. Songs. Ever.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The photograph on the dashboard,
taken years ago,
Turned around backwards
so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals
the picture in reverse.
Still, it's so much clearer.
I forgot my shirt at the water's edge.
The moon is low tonight.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
I'm not sure all these people understand.
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water.
They cannot see me naked.
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday.

Nightswimming, remembering that night.
September's coming soon.

I'm pining for the moon.
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming.

You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly
underneath my breath.

The photograph reflects,
Every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night,
deserves a quiet night

1 comment:

Kristin Y. said...

Without question, Nightswimming is on my top ten list of favorite songs EVER. After YOU introduced me to that album and especially to that song, it got me through my last summer living at home when I was working multiple jobs and doing nothing else...that song would be on repeat and it always soothed and calmed me. Absolutely love it. Thanks for this post KP...