Yesterday's news that REM was calling it quits after three decades came as a shock to fans and non-fans alike. Here was a band that we all grew up with (or, at least, those of us who grew up in the last 30 years did) that held on for so long, then dropped it out of the blue. I'm a huge fan of bands breaking up when they aren't feeling it, especially bands with a huge financial incentive to stay together. But I can also appreciate the fact that many folks are feeling awful over losing one of America's finest and most enduring rock groups. So I asked a handful of local musicians to tell me about their favorite REM song. Here's what I got back."Cuyahoga"
My REAL favorite REM song is "Cuyahoga" from Life's Rich Pageant
, my favorite record by them as it was their first record of theirs that I purchased and saw a tour of (with Camper Van Beethoven), which knocked me on my ass once I connected the dots from LP to live. It was in this song that I found myself singing along to: "Cuya-holga," not knowing what the hell that was but somehow feeling something very real as a teen, only later discovering what it was on a high school band trip to Ohio, which really sent me over the moon with pride somehow.
However, I'm trying to give the later era REM some props because there were so many great songs I feel like some snobs wrote off, which I guess is a testament to how important they are to music fans in a way.
Anyways, I love "Find the River" from Automatic for the People
; "At My Most Beautiful" from UP
, "UBerlin" from what I guess is their last record, next to a greatest hits. REM's ballads are just stunning, the delivery from Michael is always believable to me, especially when it's mixed with Peter and Mikes' (and, I imagine, Scott's!) melodies and progressions. —Chris Funk (The Decemberists, Black Prairie)
Everybody Hurts is the one for me. It contributed to many teen emo moments of mine, sniffling back tears, contemplating the insurmountable challenges of being 15. —Danielle Sullivan (Wild Ones)
"Fall On Me"
By far the best tune REM wrote. It's Bill Berry's song, or so I've heard. Off Pageant, which is still my favorite start to end album of theirs. —Kevin Robinson (Viva Voce, Blue Giant)
"Pop Song 89," or pretty much anything off of the Green album.
Watching my older brother's VHS copy of Tourfilm was a huge influence on my learning guitar and first starting bands. Coincidentally, we ended up playing a whole lot of REM covers in those early bands. —Chris Lael Larson (Deelay Ceelay)
I think of REM's music in albums; it's hard to choose one song. "Orange Crush": the drum notice/hook at the start, the trademark vocal trade-offs, political personal lyrics, moving, great chorus and melody, unmistakably REM but also, for some reason, unexpected. —Rebecca Gates (Rebecca Gates and the Consortium, The Spinanes, Etc.)
Because it never fails to make me happy. —Lisa Schonberg (STLS, Kickball, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down)
Stand - REM's Green was the first cassette I ever owned. I was a sponge for the roller-skate-rink pop that REM was making at the time. I would literally stand in the center of my living room, fast forward to "Stand", and continue to stand in the place where I was until it was time to face north and think about direction. So pure. —Andrew Sloan (Video director; Tender Loving Empire dude)
REM were invisible to me in the '80s, I never listened to them, never really even heard them, but I saw the video for 'Stand' (summer, 1989) and was impressed. It was like they recruited their friends instead of a bunch of models to dance in their video. Pretty neat. —Calvin Johnson
"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"
I listened to my parents' copy of Monster when i was a little kid and concluded that this song is what 'rock and roll' sounds like. —Kyle Morton (Typhoon)
"Man on the Moon"
My favorite is actually cheesy cos that's what I am. "Man on the Moon," because I'm a big fan of Andy Kaufman. —Josh Martinez (The Chicharones, The Pissed Off Wild)
"The One I Love"
For sure. the one i love, for sure. Somehow they managed to make a great song out of about four lines of lyrics and a one-word chorus. —Ben Darwish
"Crush With Eyeliner"
I used to listen to Monster on cassette while mowing our lawn when I was 15 in my tiny hometown in Colorado. I was super emotional about girls and down on myself because I'd never had a real girlfriend. Listening to REM's "Crush With Eyeliner" always made me feel even worse about this because it is such a sexy song and made me think of older, sophisticated cosmopolitan women who I would never in a million years have a chance with (since I was just a nerdy high school freshman from the woods who ordered all their music from the BMG catalog). I think that song actually may have kinda ruined REM for me... —Jared Mees (Tender Loving Empire)
This is a hard one, but I'd have to say my favorite song is "Pretty Persuasion" off Reckoning. Something about the melody has always stuck in my head. I love how yearning it is. —Rachel Blumberg (Norfolk & Western, M. Ward, The Decemberists, Every Portland Band Ever, Awesome Paintings!)
"All the Best"
My favorite REM song today is "All The Best." Seems fitting, you know? —Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows, Robyn Hitchcock...and sometimes REM)
I'll add more of these to the list as they roll in. And, for the record, my favorite REM song is "Nightswimming." I know how uncool that is—it sounds like something you'd hear in a shopping mall—but it's a fantastic poem set to music that paints this amazing picture of both a place and an age. That song has soundtracked many midnight trips to the lake for me. I tear up every time I hear it.
Thanks to all the contributors here. Let us know we are idiots and YOUR favorite REM song is the best in the space below.