REM

Top Five Tuesday :: R.E.M.

If there is one band and/or artist that I completely take for granted it would have to be R.E.M. I tend to go about my life with their music there in my life, and in my playlists, just knowing they are there for me to listen to, and love, but never pausing to realize just how much their music means to me. Sitting her today trying to comb through all of their albums, and attempting to come up with my top five favorites, I am realizing just how damn hard that task actually is. I love so many of their songs, so many that sing to parts of my life and my memories and my heart that I am now left here in awe and overwhelm. This band has been there through big and small moments in my life, holding my music loving hands, quietly being one of my most impactful musical loves and I just never give them enough credit.

Perhaps it is time for some big R.E.M. love from me.

To start, here is my top five songs from R.E.M., as hard as it was to compile. I would love to hear what yours are in the comments!

5. Electrolite

You are the star tonight,
you shine electric outta sight,
your light eclipsed the moon tonight
.”

Ever and always on my list of favorite songs about Los Angeles, to me this song sings about the grit of the city, and the glamour, and the hazy, often short-lived difference between the two distinctions. This is one of those songs that makes me want to drive up into the hills over Sunset Boulevard at night, park and turn the music up on high, open the windows, climb up on the hood, and take in the music and the city lights below. The song also makes me wonder how many songs include the names of James Dean and Steve McQueen in them.

4. Don’t Go Back to Rockville (live)
(oh my stars, look how young they are in this live video!)

It’s not as though I really need you,
if you were here I’d only bleed you.
But, everybody else in town only wants to bring me down and that’s not how it ought to be
.”

This was the very first R.E.M. song I ever heard, and with it, and later the song Superman, I was hooked on the band, and their music. I would later fall hard for 10,000 Maniacs b-side cover version of this song, too. For me, this song speaks to the notion of never being able to go back home again, or back to someone who you once left.

3. Country Feedback (live)

It’s crazy what you could’ve had.”

This is my favorite recording of this song, by far, a version of it that gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes. This reminds me of a failed relationship from my past and how it felt when it all collapsed and split apart. It uncovers those memories and scars that I often try to shove down deep and forget, the kind of pain that only music can unlock and set free.

2. E-Bow the Letter (featuring Patti Smith)

I wrap my hand in plastic to try to look through it.
Maybelline eyes and girl-as-boy moves,
I can take you far.
This star thing,
I don’t get it
.”

This song is poetry to me. This feels like words and music ripped out of memories of mine, of dreams, of perceptions I have had about life and love and stardom and sacrifice and ruin. This song reminds me of a story I keep trying to write, and how I always turn it on when I go back to it, again and again, hoping that this will be the time I finish it.

1. Nightswimming

The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.
Still, it’s so much clearer
.”

There is a memory of mine, with two good friends from years ago, parked by the ocean with the windows down. I took a picture of the three of us, huddled together, smiling with sunglasses on and youthful dreams shining off of our skin. There was a second picture taken, too, of the reflection in the rear view mirror that sometimes I prefer because something about it seems a moment caught off-guard, honest and vulnerable, and stolen.

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