Stand

May 22, 2007

Though “The One I Love” was most likely the very first R.E.M. song that I ever heard, “Stand” was the first time I ever listened to the band with an awareness of who they were. Around the time I was eight or nine, I went through a phase of being realllllllly into radio countdown shows, most especially American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. I distinctly remember sitting on the fuzzy green stairs just outside my bedroom one Sunday morning and listening to Kasem cheerfully introduce the band and the single, which was only a modest hit at the time, maybe somewhere in the mid-30s. I liked it well enough, but I don’t think it left that much of an impression on me — I didn’t buy a copy of Green until at least two years later, though it was my first R.E.M. record. I’m not sure how long it was before I figured out that “The One I Love” was also by R.E.M., or what the third song I heard was, though I also have a very strong memory of seeing the video for “Pop Song 89,” and I’m fairly certain that was what inspired me to buy the tape. That was also around the same time that “Stand” was the theme song for Chris Elliott‘s short-lived sitcom Get A Life, which seemed like a big deal to me though I don’t think I had any idea how weird the show was, or that it was actually a terribly unpopular program.

“Stand” is a rather cheery and innocent bubblegum pop song, and so it tends to get overlooked or downplayed by fans and the band themselves, which is a shame given that it’s a fantastic, well-constructed tune that happens to boast the most charming key change in the entire R.E.M. discography. Michael Stipe’s lyrics for the song make for a very stark contrast with the dark, cynical tone of Document — as on “Get Up,” his words are direct, endearingly optimistic, and eager to inspire the listener to action. Throughout the song, Stipe pushes the listener to acknowledge their place in their environment, and question why they do not spend more of their mental energy noting their connection to their surroundings . It’s one part Be Here Now, and two parts Think Global, Act Local. It’s certainly one of the most hippie-ish songs the band have ever produced, but it’s remarkably devoid of the sort of unintentional toxic smugness  that usually goes along with that territory. “Stand” isn’t preachy or judgmental — Stipe only attempts to highlight the absurdity of ignoring one’s place in their community, or their responsibility to the place where they live.

69 Responses to “Stand”

  1. mouserobot Says:

    I discovered both Stand and REM in pretty much the same way as yourself, although I didn’t buy one of their records until Out of Time came was released.

  2. Gabriel Peters Says:

    Given the climate change the song is more actual and urgent than ever. I reat that the name Green comes from the german political party “Die Grünen” (german for green), do you know if that is right?

  3. Justin Says:

    – I remember this being played at a high school dance. My nerdy friends and I were re-creating the dance from the video. I’m sure we looked like tools.

    – The shy smile Michael gives in the video is quite winning. And adorable.

    – Peter’s solo is dang funky.


  4. Gabriel, the US has its own Green party. It’s just a word commonly associated with environmentalism, and parties that encourage reform of policies that have a negative impact on the environment.

  5. dan Says:

    “stand” was my first r.e.m. as well — i happened to catch the video one day (this was in 95 or 96, though) and it was my first time hearing the original after enjoying weird al’s parody, “spam,” for many months. my dad owned a bunch of their albums, and he made me a tape with Green on one side and Out of Time on the other (thus i discovered “losing my religion” was by them as well). i used to think r.e.m. was the only band who could make albums that were 100% good, though it took me a long time to warm to most of the IRS albums. and of course, r.e.m. was my gateway into the world of “indie” rock, specifically pavement. pretty fun to trace that chain of events back to weird al…

    speaking of which, he’s done four r.e.m.-related things that i’m aware of:
    “spam” (parody of “stand.”)
    polka version of “losing my religion” (snippet)
    polka version of “bang & blame” (snippet)
    “frank’s 2,000 inch TV” (allegedly a ‘style parody’ of r.e.m. circa Out of Time)

  6. maclure Says:

    I like the nostalgia that is coming out over this one. Out of Time was my first record, but my older cousin leant me a tape of Green and “Stand” was really the only song I remembered from that record at that time. I think I was still listening to it like a child listens to nursery rhymes – it needs to have repitition, abuoncy beat and be bright and breezy.

    Little did I know that (in my opinion) it would be untypical of the majority of REM’s output and that it would end up being all the other stuff that I would enjoy listening to more. Untypical? Take the guitar solo – I would say a more endearing moment of the song than the key change – has Peter ever before or since used a Wah to such effect? Bill Berry was reputed to be out when this was recorded – came back in and fell around the floor laughing when the guys played it to him…

  7. maclure Says:

    Darn it typos – that’s “a bouncy beat” it should have.

  8. morewordsaboutmusic Says:

    Y’know, the town in which Get a Life took place was called “Greenville.” Normally that wouldn’t signify anything at all, but since Stand was the theme song and the album it’s from was Green, I’d say it’s a pretty good hint the creators were REM fans.

    Brilliant show, by the way. I also didn’t know how unloved it was at the time…I was a little kid when it aired but I remember getting very excited over new episodes.


  9. Well, there’s also “another Greenville, another Magic Mart!” from “Little America.” That’s where I thought you were going with it, actually!

    Get A Life is the sort of silly show that is ideally suited to kids between 9 and 12 years old, you know?

  10. David T Says:

    “Wait a minute. Switchblades, leather jackets, bad knicknames? Why you’re ruffians!”

    I loved “get a Life” at the time…wish I could say I was between 9 and 12 then…more like 19…though the show did come out about a year after I had succumbed to all things REM, so the theme song made me like the show that much more, I’m sure. Good times…

    I also love Michael’s introduction of the song (was it in Tourfilm?), comparing it to “Samuel Barber’s Adadio and the theme song from Chariots of Fire” as one of the masterworks of man…

  11. David T Says:

    er, “AdaGio”…

  12. morewordsaboutmusic Says:

    >Well, there’s also “another Greenville, another Magic Mart!” from “Little America.”

    *hangs head in shame for not owning Reckoning…*

    Good point, though…that about cements it for me. Wonder who the REM fan was on the development team.

    I have seen a few episodes of Get a Life since I grew up…it IS absolutely ridiculous, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t keep me laughing. It’s silly and pointless, but so much fun in a way American television doesn’t usually get to be. (Especially live action.)

  13. karen Says:

    “stand” was the first r.e.m. song i can remember hearing. the video was shown on nick rocks. it was a nickelodeon music video show (for kids, obviously–maybe you remember, but it might have been before your time). i think this was in 1988 or so.

  14. James Says:

    Two things that set this one apart, and make it distinctly “REM”-esque. The opening organ bit (at least, I’m assuming it’s an organ). And the (intentionally) goofy guitar solo on the wah wah pedal. I remember Peter Buck describing it in an interview as a “Beck, Bogart and Appice” solo, which sounds about right.

    I think Green is the one R.E.M. album that explicitly references classic rock, rather than more underground, influences. Aside from the “Beck” solo, there’s nods to the Doors (“Pop Song 89” rewrites “Hello, I Love You,”) and I can hear touches of Led Zeppelin and (obviously) bubblegum pop. The Rolling Stone review for the record also mentioned this.

    The lyrics of “Stand” – I hear it more as a suggestion to find a new way to look at the familiar world around you. Or it’s a set of directions. Many of Stipes lyrics from, say, Document onward sound to me like pieces (one half) of a conversation, or a letter, or some other form of writing, than traditional “lyrics.” Even “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth” has lines that sound like they could have come from a letter to someone.


  15. You know, I just saw a quote the other day with Mike Mills explaining that there’s something he did on the chord changes in the verses of “Stand” that he included because he wanted to make it more Led Zeppelin-ish, to make it a bit more complicated and macho.

  16. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Like Matthew, “The One I Love” was the first REM song I remember hearing, but “Stand” was the first time I knew it was REM. I’ve always thought that this song has more “meat” to it than most people give it credit for (at least lyrically) and is a great pop song. REM does occasionally go for the “big pop” moment, sort of bubblegum, and while almost universally the band criticizes these songs after the fact (I’ve heard harsh criticism by the band for “Stand”, “Shiny Happy People”, “Can’t Get There From Here”, “Sidewinder”, “Radio Song”,etc.) I don’t think they really mean it deep down or they would quit recording pop songs wouldn’t they? I think what they really don’t like is that people think of songs like “Stand” and “Shiny Happy People” first when they think of the band – which, of course, is a huge disservice. Then again, if more pop music was like “Stand” pop radio might not be so bad. Besides, as is obvious from this discussion, many of us first truly became acquainted with REM because of “Stand” – so can it be all bad?

  17. Andy Says:

    Based on the postings so far, I’m a little older than some of you. I’m definitely one of those folks who remember being worried about REM’s move to Warner Brothers. Someone mentioned not being able to get into the IRS years. For me, it’s exactly the opposite: there was such a clear distinction made (by the band) between their IRS and Warner Bros albums, I’ve never been able to fully embrace the later stuff. In many ways, Green was a shock (not in a good way). While much of the album has grown on me, “Stand” just hasn’t.

    Though I’d love to do the revisionist thing and praise “Stand,” I just can’t do it. Slow down the riff to Ritchie Valen’s “La Bamba” and then hum it to yourself over and over for the next 9 months. That’s what “Stand” sounded (and sounds) like to me.

  18. Eclipse Says:

    When I was 15, Stipe’s long hair and shy smile in this video had me all crushed out. This remains one of my favorite R.E.M. songs, regardless of meaning, connotations, or chart position.

  19. Jared Says:

    Great call on the “La Bamba” comparison. Now I may never hear “Stand” the same way again.

    That said, I don’t listen to it much anyway. I don’t think it represents REM well (and I am a fan of the lighter fare like “Sidewinder” and “Imitation of Life”, etc.). I recall them saying on more than one occasion that it’s their least favorite REM song. I can’t get behind a song that the band themselves can’t.

  20. dan Says:

    i should mention that though their first three albums were among the last i really got into (though Document and Lifes Rich Pageant were early favorites), the IRS years are now pretty much my favorite musical thing ever. those five albums, plus the assorted stray tracks, are the most consistent, cohesive, and enjoyable bodies of work i can think of. whenever i listen to anything post-Green, i strain to hear glimmers of their early sound.

    i would have loved to have been on the bandwagon in their prime. of course, i’m only a few months older than Chronic Town, so my excuse is that i was a baby for most of it. dang.

  21. Mary Alice Says:

    I think Stand was the first R.E.M. song I heard as well…not sure if it was Casey’s top 40, or seeing the video at my grandparents house (we didn’t have cable…) I remember once upon a time some channel had a morning cardio program – it may have even been MTV or VH1 or something – and they often showed music videos that had dance moves in them, taught the dance, and then had you do the dance as the workout. I always watched that workout show in the moning when I was at my grandparents🙂 I know they had Stand on there more than once…

    I wasn’t into them at the time, thought the song was silly and fun though. Now I think it’s a lot deeper and a highly underrated song. It does have something to say. And while R.E.M. fans seem to be polarized over it and not all love it, a lot of non R.E.M. like it who don’t even like R.E.M. songs. It reaches out by being catchy and still manages to sneak a message in.

  22. Mary Alice Says:

    yeah I’m a tad bit older than you Dan but not by much…I was born in 1980, I am about the same age as the band itself!

  23. Mary Alice Says:

    like the band is a person that has an age…ha…but they formed in 1980 so you know what I mean!

  24. 1969 Says:

    I concur with Andy. I too am older than most of the other committers here… and “Stand” was the sign of worse things to come! I can see it in the recording contract… small print, “R.E.M must produce at least one hit song an album”. Hence: Green=Stand, Out of Time=Shiny Happy People, Automatic for the People=Everybody Hurts, etc…

    Money changes everything.

    But it is all good if one new fan pulled in from one of these “corporate sellout” songs discovers the old material. 

  25. Melissa Says:

    “Stand” is actually the song that solidified me as an REM fan…at all of 9 years old. My older cousin, possibly tired of me playing my Madonna and Janet Jackson tapes on repeat, made me a mixed tape of REM songs from Murmur through Dead Letter Office. I was hooked, even as a 9 year old kid, and proclaimed myself an REM fan. This was right around the time that the “Stand” video hit MTV (back when they played videos, of course). I remember making my parents drive me to the mall so I could buy the Green tape, which I still have. I’m pretty sure I was the only 9 year old in Topeka, Kan. to own an REM cassette. Although I find myself today turning my nose up at some of REM’s later radio hits like “Losing My Religion” and especially “Shiny Happy People,” I can still listen to “Stand” ad nauseum even 19 years later.

  26. Ignis Sol Says:

    I, like Andy, am older. I was 14 when I first bought “Fables…” after hearing them on a radio show (Rockline?) while in the backseat (yes, with the sound of the engine) of my parents car – I was hooked. I had already heard of them and that there was a buzz about them, but this is all I knew.
    I bought “Green” on Election Day 1988 (I buy their albums on release days). People also said that “Green” referred to the new greener pastures they were now in with signing to WB. And I loved “Stand.” I am glad it is a song that attracted another wonderful, and intelligent fan base! It’s a brilliant move on R.E.M.’s part.


  27. I really don’t see how “Stand” is a dramatic departure from what the band had been doing all along. I mean, actually, of all the songs on Green, it’s one of the most IRS-ish along with “Pop Song 89.” Honestly, I don’t think Green marks a divide in their catalog — Out of Time is the huge turning point, artistically and commercially. I’ve thought of Green as being the third in R.E.M.’s Big 80s Rock trilogy since I was a young teenager, and that impression isn’t ever going to change.
    Also, I’d reckon that the major success of Out of Time and Automatic was the more poisonous thing for them, since it pushed them in a direction that favored slow dirges to upbeat numbers. Sure, Out Of Time does finish something that they begin on Green with songs like “Hairshirt,” “The Wrong Child,” and “You Are The Everything,” but “Stand” has got absolutely nothing to do with any of that. Also, you’re never going to hear me say a bad word about “Shiny Happy People” or “Everybody Hurts.” Ever. Clearly the band were very wise to write some accessible songs that had a great appeal to either children or teenagers!

  28. morewordsaboutmusic Says:

    >small print, “R.E.M must produce at least one hit song an album”. Hence: Green=Stand, Out of Time=Shiny Happy People, Automatic for the People=Everybody Hurts, etc…

    Everybody Hurts? Are you kidding? I won’t debate your other comparisons, but do you honestly think Everybody Hurts is just something they wrote to throw to the pop fans?

  29. Ignis Sol Says:

    I think pop fans and pop songs were far from their minds while writing and recording AFTP. I think “Man on the Moon” was more of a “pop hit” than “Everybody Hurts.”

  30. Andy Says:

    Take a deep breath, Matthew! You sound like you’re on the defensive. I can’t stand “Stand,” but I definitely have a soft spot for “Everybody Hurts,” so I’m with you there.

    I’d assert that the “more poisonous thing for them” has something to do with Mike Mills.

    …but that’s another subject.


  31. Well, I think the root of a lot of people’s hostility toward “Everybody Hurts” is that it is a song that is deliberately written for young people (though obvs it applies to everyone), and young people are high up on the list of demographics that snobs routinely despise. Also, that sort of unguarded empathy is never going to seem cool to certain people, but seriously, fuck them.

  32. Ignis Sol Says:

    When I first listened to the wonderful “Everybody Hurts,” I did not realize it was directly written for any age group. Surely, young adults in college – which I was then – identified with its theme. Thanks for bringing out that point, Matthew.

  33. morewordsaboutmusic Says:

    >When I first listened to the wonderful “Everybody Hurts,” I did not realize it was directly written for any age group.

    Agreed, though, I admit, I would have been in that target age group myself the first time I heard it…so there’s the element of parallax. But I’d high-five Matthew if I could, because he’s absolutely right: despise a song because you think it belongs to a certain demographic you’re not keen on? Fuck them indeed.

    It’s a gorgeous song, and it might be heavy-handed, but so what? What’s so wrong with coming right out and saying something? There’s a lot to be said for a band that can tackle emotions like that directly. Dancing around them is easy…it takes bravery to dive headlong into openness like that and pull it off.

  34. Andy Says:

    In the case of “Everybody Hurts,” I don’t think it’s the demographics that are the problem for some people. It’s the “unguarded empathy” that Matthew mentioned. When someone opens up emotionally (particularly someone you don’t expect it from), it catches you off guard. It’s like seeing your father cry for the first time: there’s something shocking, powerful, and unsettling about it.

    For some, the reaction is to turn away. For others, you embrace it, recognize it as something wonderful, and hold onto it…

    Can we get back to trashing “Stand” now?

  35. Ignis Sol Says:

    Hey, Andy, are goofing on Michael?

  36. Andy Says:

    If I was, it was totally unintentional.

  37. Andy Says:

    Oh wait. I get it.
    Nicely done.

  38. Ignis Sol Says:

    god, I am such an R.E.M. geek…..

    I should be working, it’s still the work day in Seattle.

    One of the reasons I like “Stand” is because the popularity of ti brought others into the R.E.M. fold at that time. In some ways my tastes were validated and that felt good. Now, I could care less…… ; )

  39. maclure Says:

    Lordy, there’s a lot of comments here. What we were talking about? Somebody mentioned ages. I’d like to throw my two pence in as one born in 1980 I was but a wee sproglet when REM were thinking about Chronic Town. I feel sometimes gyped by the fact that I started liking REM when their star was at the highest and started to dim (commercially anyway). I can’t compete with older cousins of mine who liked them “before they were big”. I would have given anything to see them circa Life’s Rich Pageant – that seems to me to be REM at their most sensational and energetic.

    Anyway, it’s tired and I’m late. off to bed.

  40. Kirsten Says:

    Don’t worry Ignis, I got it and (sadly) laughed. Good to see I’m not the only one. And Justin, we’ve all done the stupid dance (and probably had a great time, too) some of them just wont admit it…..

    I also melt with Michael’s smile at the end of the clip. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of pop music.


  41. You know, I just watched the “Stand” video for the first time in ages, and one thing that’s really wonderful about it is that its mostly a bunch of footage of children, elderly women, middle aged people, and kinda dorky people in mostly rural/suburban settings — ie, stuff that is very seldom in music videos!

  42. Kirsten Says:

    Be honest with us Matthew, did you dance along with the clip??

  43. Bunnia Says:

    “Throughout the song, Stipe pushes the listener to acknowledge their place in their environment, and question why they do not spend more of their mental energy noting their connection to their surroundings . It’s one part Be Here Now, and two parts Think Global, Act Local. It’s certainly one of the most hippie-ish songs the band have ever produced, but it’s remarkably devoid of the sort of unintentional toxic smugness that usually goes along with that territory. “Stand” isn’t preachy or judgmental — Stipe only attempts to highlight the absurdity of ignoring one’s place in their community, or their responsibility to the place where they live.”

    Very well said, Matthew! Thank you. This has always been the message I got from “Stand”. I love the lyrics. The video is great, and it’s not because of the dance (ha ha ha) but because of the symbolism. That’s what I used to love about R.E.M., a fine example. They sure made living in the American south a lot brighter for me!! Get involved…get up…do something…save the earth, etc.

    So inspirational…Amen.

  44. Bunnia Says:

    “I also love Michael’s introduction of the song (was it in Tourfilm?), comparing it to “Samuel Barber’s Adadio and the theme song from Chariots of Fire” as one of the masterworks of man…”

    To: David T

    Ah, I don’t think it’s on Tourfilm. I’ll check again. I was at that show (ha ha– the final show on the GREEN Tour in GREENsboro, NC) and “Stand” was the first song and there was no intro.

  45. Kirsten Says:

    I’ve got a live version that is introduced as “the worst song ever written”. Gotta love that!

  46. kerry Says:

    Kudos on the “La Bamba” comparison. It took me a minute, but yeah, it’s true. Now I can never listen to Stand again without hearing Spanish.

    Like a lot of people here, I was aware of who REM were before “Stand”, and I liked their music. After “Stand” though, I was a rabid fan, pretty much listening to REM only. When it was used as the theme song to “Get A Life”, I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

    I wish things were a bit more like 1988-90 again. Let’s just have something that’s goofy and childish for the sake of being goofy and childish. Without waxing nostalgic, weren’t things a little better before people were getting voted off islands, and pop stars were picked by voting on a tv show??? You know as well as I do that a song like “Stand” and a show like “Get A Life” wouldn’t have a chance today. I’m not surprised that REM doesn’t have an audience any more. Has anything else changed for the better? REALLY???

    These days, to be goofy and silly usually means that you are being filthy. My parents could let me listen to REM songs in high school back in the 80’s without worrying about what I was hearing. My kid isn’t getting near a radio, after the things I’ve heard on it. God help us.

    Sorry to put such a depressing and morbid thought out there while discussing one of the greatest pop songs ever written.

    Now Face North…

  47. Razib Says:

    Thats a nice award – “The wrong song ever written!”

    Canvas of life – The lives of real people

  48. EK Alex Says:

    I still have a soft spot for ‘Stand’, even though for me the live version eclipses the original. Plus, it’s the song that opens ‘Tourfilm’, still one of my favourite concert videos of all time.

  49. David T Says:

    Bunnia,

    Thanks for helping me narrow it down. The little intro to Stand was something I heard on a commercial radio broadcast of an REM concert aired sometime in the summer of 1989. The show was from the Green tour for sure, but since I haven’t seen Tourfilm in quite some time, I wasn’t sure if it was the same show…apparently, it was a different show on the same tour.

    (Lucky you, by the way, for being there at that show in Greensboro!! I was just getting into REM when they came through my town in ’89, and I skipped the show to see my at-the-time wish-she-was-my-girlfriend run in a track meet that evening instead…pitiful!)

    ps: Does anyone else remember that radio broadcast of the ’89 concert?

  50. James Says:

    David –

    The Orlando/Miami radio broadcast from 1989 (it was parts of two shows edited together) was *heavily* bootlegged and circulated among R.E.M. collectors. I picked up multiple copies of it, sometimes under different names and incorrect dates and venues. It’s like the Frampton Comes Alive! (or free sample of Tide) of R.E.M. bootlegs.

  51. 1969 Says:

    ok i admit… Everybody Hurts was a stretch on a sell-out song. The actual song that doesn’t fit that album is: “The Sidewinder”. That song makes me cringe!

    I must state there are many jewels on these albums: Green, Out of Time, Automatic: Hairshirt, World Leader Pretend, You are the Everything, Low, Belong, Sweetness Follows… which I see that all these songs are dark and brooding… which i prefer. But I will take “Don’t Go Back To Rockville” over all the above.🙂

  52. 1969 Says:

    i must comment on Matthew’s comment: “young people are high up on the list of demographics that snobs routinely despise. Also, that sort of unguarded empathy is never going to seem cool to certain people, but seriously, fuck them.”

    For those of us that were listening to REM, before they hit Casey Kasem’s top 40 show, listened to the band out of choice… going against what was popular at the time. We felt a sense of entitlement… if that is snobbish… so be it. But without Andy and I, REM may have never made Casey’s top 40 show. Their underground success, without any radio play, is what caught the attention of Warner Bros to feed to the masses.

  53. David T Says:

    Cool. Thanks, James. I actually recorded much of the broadcast (once I realized it was on) on a very cheap cassette recorder…I probably listened to it as much as any of REM’s “actual” records that summer. At that time, I was working my way backward through the REM catalog and had made it only to Fables…the concert recording ended up being my introduction to what soon became two of my favorite songs (Perfect Circle and Pretty Persuasion)…needless to say, I had Murmur and Reckoning (as well as DLO) in my possession by the end of that summer.

    Whew! Not enough coffee, apparently…I’ll try to stay on topic hereafter.


  54. […] Stipe’s charming yokel character moves at his own pace, contradicts conventional wisdom, and stands in the place where he lives. We’re not supposed to relate to him; we’re the ones who got lost in the places in […]

  55. Joel Toe Says:

    There are some songs which are marvelous.

  56. Andy Says:

    …and then there’s “Stand.”

  57. Mary Alice Says:

    1969 that is kinda snobby what you are saying.

    Yes, many people of my age were listening to the radio and stuff when R.E.M. was making the top 40. It just happened to be so, that’s the place in time we were at, and when we first heard/were aware of them. But it’s different things that draw people in to being R.E.M. fans. Just because I heard the songs then it was a while before I became a diehard fan – and the more old songs of theirs I heard, the more I also learned about their history. Their history and music just pushed each other to make me a bigger fan because their music made me appreciate where they came from and visa versa.

    And on top of that, whatever draws people in and makes them R.E.M. fans, it’s the same band and same good music that keeps us there. Most R.E.M. fans have a certain quirkiness, openmindedness, and empathy – it just seems most bands’ fans have traits in common and R.E.M.’s seem to, young or old.

    And I like when R.E.M. reaches out with songs like Stand that appeal to so many…it’s not like we don’t have even more songs that are obsucre and wierd as R.E.M. fans that mainstream people don’t get. They have always done the songs they wanted to do.

  58. Kirsten Says:

    1969:
    We can’t all be old, or have the advantage of living in the USA. I’ve been a huge fan since the age of 13, but that wasn’t until ’92 (Drive sucked me in straight away). And living in Australia, even now, they’re not well known. Most people I meet cant name 3 songs. I wish I could have been in America at that time and been able to experience it for myself, but I couldn’t and that doesn’t make me any less of a fan than yourself.

  59. chinese brother Says:

    big ups Matthew… you ain’t a music snob and you listen to R.E.M. with an open mind. whether I agree or disagree with your opinions, I always can trust that what you say is honest, insightful,real, without conscious pretention and that you ain’t frontin’ my man.

    stand means two things to me.
    1. my mate’s sister and her friend dancing when I was teenager. needless to say, I got involved with my mate’s sister.

    2. “think about the place where you live, wonder why you haven’t before”

  60. Andy Says:

    There’s no need to be a snob about how long you’ve been a fan (although that seems to go hand-in-hand with rock n’ roll). However, there is definitely a difference between IRS-era fans and the folks who came along later. But it’s not a bad thing.

    I’ll relate it to this guy Joe with whom I work. Joe is 66 years old and was into Bob Dylan back from the beginning. He experienced it as it happened. For example, Dylan going electric isn’t just academic for him—it meant something. It was something he experienced first-hand.

    I’m also a Dylan fan, but I’m much younger. It doesn’t make me any less of a fan, and I love his music just as much as anyone—but it’s different. For me, Dylan’s early albums are history lessons that also happen to speak to me in this time and place. I can never experience Dylan the way my friend Joe did. Anyone who bought Highway 61 Revisited the day it came out definitely gets bragging rights! I appreciate that about Joe’s relationship with Dylan’s music.

    Seems to me, it’s the same thing with any band. If you were a fan of R.E.M. back in the early/mid 80s, you experienced something very different than anyone who came along following “Stand.” Being a fan required a little work: I can remember spending an afternoon in the town library in Rome, Georgia (my hometown), searching through back-issues of Rolling Stone just to see if I could find any articles or pictures of the band. There was no internet, and the best we could hope for on TV was MTV’s 120 Minutes.

    It doesn’t make me any better, just different. We can’t always be the young hipsters we once were, just like R.E.M. can’t always be that little band from Athens.

    We all grow up sometime.

  61. bryan charles Says:

    hmmm, i just read this long thread about the integrity of fandom and time frames etc. and it all strikes me as a little . . . irrelevant at this point.

    on the one hand i agree with Andy above. i like to dig for stuff, hear a little snippet of a band, search things out, try and find information and photos. or i guess i should say i used to like that because that shit is gone forever–unless you’re a die-hard music fan without Internet access–and writing about it these days is sort of like describing the charms of the rotary telephone.

    on the other hand, to still be waving the flag of early R.E.M. fandom, talking about a pre- and post-“Stand” split, seems ludicrous. what could possibly be the difference at this point between “IRS-era fans and the folks who came along later”? it’s been 20 years, you know? people who were born the day “Stand” was released as a single are already old enough to have gone through and exited the complete cycle of R.E.M. super fandom and their love of the band is no less valid or any “different” for having heard them for the first time in 1998 or whenever.


  62. […] lekker te laten gaan in onze obsessie en urenlang te discussiëren over de betekenis van lyrics als “Stand in the place where you live” of te delen hoezeer we allemaal wel niet op onze eigen manier ontroerd worden door een prachtnummer […]

  63. Andy Says:

    Bryan Charles,
    I think that was exactly my point: younger fans’ love of the band is definitely no less valid.

    However, to suggest that one cannot experience the music differently is absurd. My post was not about fandom. Rather, it was about how important time-and-place can be to how we experience art.

    Consider Picasso: to live in a world where cubism already exists is entirely different than to have lived in the world when cubism first emerged. I can be a fan of a painting like “Mademoiselles D’Avignon”, but I can never experience it as it was experienced when Picasso first displayed it. My “time-and-place” gives me a different perspective on cubism.

    It’s really not about better or worse. I was just pointing out that time-and-place are important. And as we discuss these songs–and our personal responses to them–time and place figures in.

  64. dumbek Says:

    I don’t think 1969’s comment is really all that snobby. And I agree with the Picasso/Dylan stories above. Perspective is everything.

    For many people here, looking back on the signing to WB and the release of “Stand” doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s just another notch in R.E.M. history.

    But to a lot of us, it was a watershed moment. It’s the moment that changed everything. Many people saw the signing to WB as a huge betrayal and almost took it personally. What you see as a fun pop song that introduced you to the world of R.E.M., many people saw as a complete and total sellout – Our beloved alternative, poetic, mysterious band was now making peppy little light pop tunes for The Man.

    20 years later – yeah – that seems a little silly. But if you were a big R.E.M. fan in the early 80s it was a hugely defining moment for the band and our relationship to them. It’s not quite the Dylan-goes-electric moment, but it’s pretty much the R.E.M. equivalent of that….At least up until Berry quit.

    I don’t hate “Stand” (too much) and I think Green is an underrated, strong album. My perspective is just very different from someone’s who discovered R.E.M. on “American Top 40”. Both are perfectly valid perspectives and it has nothing to do with who is the bigger fan.

    And I’d like to warn everyone that doing the “Stand” dance while on the treadmill is a very, very bad idea. Trust me on that one.

  65. jim jos Says:

    i like reading about the “paradigm shift” that happened when “Stand” was released, all good posts. I can completely see how it marks a type of ending on one end for some and a new beginning for many others. In many ways, “stand” means quite a lot to many people, and may be REM’s most pivotal song ever. (this is the most responded to thread so far, for instance)

    That being said, this and Shinny Happy People are two songs that many people associate with the band in a negative way.

    The one I love, Everybody Hurts, Religion and others might be the “bigger tunes” but “Stand” and “SHP” seem like two songs that always come into play when someone tells me they are not REM fans, and are hugely associated with REM by the apathetic musical fan.

    Stand is nowhere near REM’s best song. Hell, its perhaps my least favorite Green song, and I rather dislike that REM is so closely associated with it.

  66. mscot Says:

    This is my least favorite REM song. It’s absolutely wretched. Shiny Happy People is a close second.

  67. transformerdog Says:

    in all seriousness, Matthew, very curious about “the most charming key change in the REM discography” part–Help me out here , guys–Do you mean that literally ? Where exactly does the key change “change” ? I can think of a few other really really dynamic and exciting key changes (?)–are they key changes , the ones I’m thinking of…? or just exceptonally stirring chord changes ?? Somebody help me out here, What part(s) of this song constitutes “the most charming key change in the REM discography” ?? KEY CHANGE ??can one song be in more than one key and still work ??, puzzled Man , talk to me:)–Super sunny side up song BTW, complex for me , inspiring and insightful and deep , although it comes across initially as kinda silly

  68. transformerdog Says:

    this album is what got me into REM originally , I could not believe how good, how POWERFUL it was…But now I know, it’s REM , what do you expect? Is it just a coincidence that they also have the coolest name in rock and roll? How Rapid Eye Movement=dreamland=REM.

  69. RedParakeet Says:

    I can’t believe I never realised how amazing and well constructed this song is. I’ve known it for ages, but only recently has it stood out when I listened to it again for the first time in ages and… everything fits… the chords, the vocal melody is perfect… the key change doesn’t ruin it all. Now I’ll go listen to it again.


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