Maps & Legends

”]Cover of "Murmur [Deluxe Edition]"

R.E.M. announced its breakup a few days ago. Their songs and their sound captivated me through the 80s and 90s. An outspoken band, they buried their meanings in poetry and their lyrics in the mix.

Let’s put our heads together, start a new country up,
Underneath the river bed we burned the river down
This is where they walked, swam, hunted, danced and sang,
Take a picture here, take a souvenir

A book on my shelf about the band is titled It Crawled From the South. The cover of their first full LP, Murmur, featured a photo of kudzu–strange, but familiar to me from my North Carolina days. I heard them cover Creedence’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” at the Stock Pavilion in Madison, Wisconsin in 1984.

That year my son Nathaniel was born, and R.E.M. became our band.  I took him to his first concert on Father’s Day 1994.  The band opened with “I Don’t Sleep, I Dream.”

A young man, Michael Stipe talked about “the whole idea of the old men sitting around the fire, passing on … legends and fables to the grandchildren.”  R.E.M.’s lyrical landscapes and bottom-of-the-drawer cover art may have been purposefully obscure, but their melodies sounded timeless to my ears.

The legacy of the band is complicated, it seems. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notwithstanding, there is such a niggling coterie of detractors. That’s a mystery to me.

Maybe these maps and legends
Have been misunderstood

Marcus Gray, “It Crawled from the South: An R.E.M. Companion.”  Da Capo Press, 1992


About John Wackman

A writer since I learned to hold a pencil (no, not like that...hold it like this!). Long-time writer/producer for television, now organizer of Repairs Cafes in the Hudson Valley (13 & counting!) -- Program Manager of Solarize Hudson Valley, non-profit, state supported, community sponsored renewable energy program. We're all re-inventing ourselves. It's a sci-fi world, isn't it?
This entry was posted in Climate change + Culture, Deep Ecology, John Wackman blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Maps & Legends

  1. [I was so charmed by this spam comment from Poland, that I approved it. Perhaps you too will “leap for contentment”!]

    I precisely wanted to thank you very much once again. I’m not certain the things I would’ve achieved without the type of points contributed by you directly on my field. This was a real frustrating crisis in my circumstances, nevertheless spending time with a new specialised manner you managed the issue made me to leap for contentment. Extremely happier for the information and in addition hope that you recognize what a great job that you are putting in instructing other individuals thru your website. I am sure you have never encountered any of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s