Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Blast From The Past

There are but a handful of acts that have stood the test of time and endured a career in the music business. When we speak of such groups I guess the ultimate model has been the Stones, simply because they are still an entity despite the several personnel changes they've incurred over the years. U2 is another one, but amazingly with no personnel changes.

The Stones have their celebrity status already formed, there is nothing much else that can be said about them. Richards is a loveable little imp who looks like he's been through the wringers of life, he looks like he's taking things one day at a time in between meetings. Jagger is Jagger and he knows it, brash flamboyant, and still getting older. Both are household names, for good, bad, or indifferent.

U2 has their political and religious causes to prop up their celebrity status. Bono is the most extroverted, Edge is so mysteriously aloof, I cannot even conjure up an auditory image of his voice in my head. All of them have persevered through the challenges of being a top-notch act over the many years.

This weekend's feature has similar characteristics and/or elements of both bands, with some minor differences here and there. I won't list them all. But suffice it to say, they have endured paid their symbolic dues, evolving and maturing along the way. In the almost 30 years they have been in existence they have only lost one member, not to drugs or other usual star-like tragedies but to retirement.

REM formed in Athens Georgia in 1980 and they have been putting out great music, since. Their style is utterly unique. They capture a ballad as well as anyone and have the level of versatility needed to outlast some of the flashier, flamboyant acts that started out with them .... and yet no longer exist.

While Bono has been lobbying governments to raise money for Aids diagnosis and treatment in Africa, while the Stones are being the Stones, REM remains a modest/low-key group whose primary objective is to make good music with thought-provoking themes that carry a message. These messages may be somewhat obscure at times, but they are there.

As is the case with any musical legend, you cannot play them all in one sitting. So, I won't. I will, however, (as always) share a few of my favorites.

Originally a song released in 1969 by a Texas band known as The Clique, REM covered this one in 1986. I think they did a good job of it, so here is Superman.

This one is supposedly based loosely on the 1959 movie of the same name. I can't say for sure because I haven't seen it. I am not sure why I like this one, the lyrics hold no real meaning to me. But the music and melody are relaxing enough. Here is Imitation Of Life.

The one's a bit deeper, one that describes maturational process. The video on this one has some great travel shots. Here is Drive.

Finally comes what I think was the best REM song ever. It is one of the deeper songs I think they have written and performed. It sounds like it's about the comedian Andy Kaufman and it is to some degree. But if you pay closer attention, there is a much more poignant message underneath it all. This one is called Man On The Moon.


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