Eearlier this month, REM announced that they were breaking up. That is: after being over 30 years in the music industry, the three band members decided that:
“Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together”
Today’s ‘Past The Bridge’ entry, (musically) encompasses the band’s earlier years perfectly: So. Central Rain (35+ seconds). I refrained from using their more popular works as I believe that everything went downhill after their ‘Out of Time’ LP/CD. Sure, ‘Everybody hurts’ sounds pretty and ‘consumable’ but it’s over-engineered and over-done. Compare that to their earlier works, were Stipe’s lyrics, superimposed on the band’s simple chord structure, created songs people still don’t understand today. That is the brilliance and timelessness of ‘So Central Rain’ and for that matter, all songs on their album “Reckoning”.
I ran into REM during Stipe’s infamous contribution to KRS-One’s HEAL project (earlier) and KRS-One’s contribution to REM’s “Radio Song” (YouTube, another brilliant song). This was in a time where the band slowly started to become the focus of attention, which skyrocketed after their ‘Automatic’ CD. The rest is fairly history: I lost interest and found other music I cared for. In my opinion, REM never recovered their artistic skills after ‘Automatic’. Maybe that’s the curse of commercialization. Maybe not. Who cares.