February 18, 2008
“Permanent Vacation” dates back to R.E.M.’s earliest days as a local party band. There’s a lot of other songs from that period that will not be covered on this site, but “Permanent Vacation” makes the cut mainly because for some reason, the band chose to rescue it from obscurity, and made it a setlist staple on their last two tours. Well, I can guess at the reason — it’s a carefree rave-up and it’s probably fun to play, it’s a way of reconnecting with their roots, and it’s a treat for the geeks who’ve got all the old bootleg tapes. It’s cute. But if we’re being very honest about this, it’s not much of a song. At best, it’s a fun bit of juvenelia, and at worst, it’s just a party rocker by numbers. There’s nothing in particular to dislike about it, and it zooms by awfully quickly, but I’d be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t resent that I’ve seen the band play this song, but I’ve never seen them perform a single track from Murmur.