September 10, 2008
Well, it’s all over for now. The original mission of this site is completed, and I have written an entry for every song on every R.E.M. record that existed as of March 2007, plus every non-album track that I deemed worthy of consideration. I am generally quite proud of the results, and some of my favorite writing that I’ve done in the past few years has appeared on this site.
A lot of my favorite posts here are the ones in which I arrive at an idea about a song, or discover something in a song that I probably wouldn’t have found if I had never taken on this project, and spent so much time thinking about a body of work that I’d come to take for granted, or just accepted as good and pleasurable without thinking much about why the songs and the band have resonated with me for so many years.
I will definitely be writing about all of the songs on Accelerate at some point in the future, perhaps at some point in 2009. (I may also hit some songs I missed the first time around.) It’s important that I have some time to let those songs sink in — a lot of what made this site work is that I lived with all the music for quite a while — and I think it’s absolutely crucial to wait for the result (and aftermath) of the 2008 Presidential election to put the lyrics in their proper context.
This project would not exist were it not for Chris Conroy. I was stuck on writing up a Fluxblog entry, and I asked him what I should write about. He suggested R.E.M., and specifically “Let Me In,” and so I did. I realized that I could probably find something interesting to say about every R.E.M. song, and the thought of doing just that crossed my mind. A few days later, I saw a video by Ze Frank in which he advises his audience to execute every idea they have, and I felt like a gauntlet had been thrown down, and I had no choice but to go for it. I recommend that all of you take Ze Frank‘s advice to heart.
I would also like to thank my friends Eric Harvey, Bryan Charles, Mike Barthel, J. Edward Keyes, Maura Johnston, Susan Broyles, Karen Broyles, and Hannah Carlen for their feedback and support throughout the life of the project.
Thanks to Scott Lapatine and the Stereogum crew.
Thanks to Ethan Kaplan and Murmurs.com
Thanks to Bertis Downs, David Bell, and everyone at the R.E.M. office.
Thanks to the readers of this site, most especially the regular commenters. I feel extremely lucky to have had such an amazing bunch of commenters on this site. In addition to being exceptionally civil and well-behaved, I could always count on you all to provide your own thoughtful commentary, bring up interesting bits of trivia, offer words of encouragement, or go off on your own little tangents. You are the most enthusiastic and generous audience a blogger could ever hope for, and I really appreciate your attention and support.
Thanks most of all to R.E.M. themselves, for doing what they’ve been doing for all these years.
February 11, 2008
My “premature evaluation” of the new album Accelerate is up on Stereogum. Please go check it out, but I suppose I should give you fair warning: There are some spoilers, so if you want to go into the record without knowing its twists and turns, you may want to skip the second half.
It’s a terrific album, and I’m really glad that the guys at Stereogum were kind enough to not only hook me up with the record, but to provide me with such a great forum for my early impressions. That said, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be writing about the new songs here in the foreseeable future — I feel that one of the strengths of this project comes from the fact that I’ve lived with all of these songs for a long time, and though I’m very enthusiastic about the new material right now, I don’t think it’s fair to rush into writing about them here. Give it a year, maybe. In the meantime, I’ll be entering the home stretch with the original plan in mind.
October 22, 2007
It might only be up on the WFMU site for one week, so please do check out the archive of my appearance on Trent Wolbe’s Safe and Sound show while you can. We talk a bit about this site, and play about three hours worth of R.E.M. songs. We managed to play at least one song from every album, but that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t bring in a couple burned cds and the new live record because the last four studio albums have been purged from the WFMU library.
Not to be all Jarvis Cocker about this, but I suggest that you refrain from looking at the playlist whilst listening to the show!
Edit: If you want to hear it as an mp3 instead of a real audio thing, please click here.
October 2, 2007
Drive XV, Stereogum’s tribute to Automatic For The People, launched today, and you really ought to check it out. In addition to free mp3s of covers of every track on the record by a range of indie rock acts, the mini-site includes an essay about the album written by myself, along with comments from Mike Mills on each of the songs. I conducted the interview with Mike last week, and a longer Q&A about the new live dvd/cd set and the forthcoming album will appear on Stereogum in a couple weeks.
A big thank you is due to the guys at Stereogum for making this happen, and to David Bell, Bertis Downs, and Mike Mills for being so great about getting that interview together.
Also, if for some reason you can only hear one of those covers, you should make sure that it’s Dr. Dog’s version of “Find The River,” because it’s lovely.