This weekend marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of R.E.M.'s Murmur, which makes some of us very old. Those of you who are all, "I wasn't even born yet" can just remain respectfully silent for a few minutes, okay? Not that we could hear you anyway.
"Planting the vegetables when the moon was in different constellations, she discovered, resulted in their growing into different forms and sizes. Over years of research she concluded that root crops (including onions and leeks, which are not technically root crops) do best if sown when the moon is passing through constellations associated with the earth element; leafy crops do best when the moon is associated with water signs; flowering plants do best associated with air signs, and fruits did better with fire signs." —German gardener Maria Thun, who put the "biodynamics" theory of cosmic, occultist philosopher Rudolph Steiner to test in her garden and wrote a popular [...]
This in amusing in light of yesterday's discussion: "R.E.M. is in one of the longest middle periods in the history of popular music. (I’d say it started in 1987, with 'Document,' four years after the group’s first album, 'Murmur.')" Oh yeah? Well, screw you, Ratliff, I'm calling the "middle period" at the 3:13 mark of "Talk About the Passion." They were never the same band after that.
Awl pal Matthew Perpetua assesses the oeuvre of R.E.M. You will almost certainly disagree with the order in which he has arranged the albums, but I suppose that's the point of these things. As someone who remembers a spring of many years ago where it seemed to rain every day—back when a persistent bout of bad weather was something seen as temporarily dispiriting rather than the inevitable result of our attack on the planet—I will never rank anything more highly than Murmur, which I had on both sides of a cassette that remained in the deck on auto-reverse until summer finally burned through, but I guess everyone's got [...]
"Where does this disdain for workers come from? Some of it, obviously, reflects the influence of money in politics: big-money donors, like the ones Mr. Romney was speaking to when he went off on half the nation, don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride." —Paul Krugman is right. And it's important to note that before Neil Peart replaced John Rutsey on drums and Rush was taken [...]
"The point being, to understand Isherwood is to understand his infatuation with liars, which—returning to the camera metaphor—I think makes it reasonable to ask whether he himself was lying, or at least half-lying in a way he could find almost believable." —Old Awl chum Matthew Gallaway writes in The Millions about Christopher Isherwood and the notion of being a camera and lying and memory. (He references the great Jonathan Richman song, "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste," which was nicely covered by Galaxie 500. But that R.E.M. song is my favorite R.E.M. song, and I think it's also Isherwood inspired, so let's listen to that first.)
Hey, R.E.M. has a new song out. It's called "Discoverer," which is a cool word, from a new album, called Collapse Into Now, due in March. I haven't paid much attention to R.E.M. this century, but, man, they used to be so awesome. And on first couple listens at least, I really like this. With those high-chiming guitars and its shout-along chorus, this would make for a fine work song.