Southern boys just like you and me
By now the word has gotten around that R.E.M. is breaking up, after 31 long and mostly fruitful years together. I'll readily admit that the band hasn't been a constant in my life, as my tastes and theirs have shifted here and there, and that they haven't made an album that's meant much to me since Automatic for the People, which came out in 1992. Still, they were a big part of my college years, though only intermittently since then. But I'm still staggered by the shimmering brilliance of the first three albums (Chronic Town, Murmur and Reckoning), and if no album of theirs has totally floored me after that, each had several songs that lodged in my brain and wouldn't budge, even now. I'm very glad that the band is going out on its own terms, and has the good sense to realize that it's the right time. I'll be forever grateful to them, and many of their songs, from "You Are the Everything" to "Gardening at Night" to "King of Birds" to "Perfect Circle", will always be with me.
So farewell, gentlemen. Rest, reflect, and take your time figuring out what comes next. Because there will certainly be a next for each of you, if not all together. But meanwhile, stroll through your garden, smell the roses, and count every one of those hundred million birds.