My Favorite R.E.M. Songs


Hearing that the hit band R.E.M. was breaking up after three decades of recording and performing together made me feel both old and nostalgic.  Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry are going their separate ways after making music together since 1980.  They wrote on their Web site, REMHQ.com: "To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening. -- R.E.M."

It made me start reminiscing about some of their greatest songs.  With so many albums (Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Life's Rich Pageant, Document, Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up, Reveal, Around the Sun, Accelerate, and Collapse Into Now), it's tough to choose just a handful, but here are my favorites (in alphabetical order).

"Crush with Eyeliner" - Haven't we all been "smitten" by someone? This song captures that zany, giddy, goofy feeling. "I could be your Frankenstein."  Is it rejecting superficiality?  Is it celebrating cheap flings, unrequitted love, stalker madness?  It's all in the ear of the listener. 

"Drive" - This was one of R.E.M.'s biggest hits.  It might be a simplistic song, but it's catchy and interesting.  "Maybe you're crazy in the head, baby."

"Everybody Hurts" - Some songs connect with the listener because they come at the right place and time.  "Everybody Hurts" was one of those songs that really touched me and stayed with me, because I heard it when I needed it most.  It was as if Stipe was singing the lyrics right to me: "Don't let yourself go, 'Cause everybody cries And everybody hurts sometimes."


"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" - No matter how many times I hear this tune, I love it.  It's bouncy, addictive, fastpaced, and unforgettable. 

"Losing My Religion" - The video for this song is probably one of the top of all time, but the song itself is great by any standards. 

"Man on the Moon" - A tribute to Andy Kaufman, here's another of my favorites. 

"Nightswimming" - A really great ballad,  I love the combination of the piano with Stipe's voice.

"Orange Crush" - A powerful little ditty, is it about Agent Orange, is it about a soldier going off to war?  Whatever, I like it.

"Radio Free Europe" - I always felt this song had a nice punk rock vibe (if "nice" and "punk" are two adjectives that fit together).  Punk fans might ridicule me for saying that, but it is what it is.  Love the song.

"Stand" - Here's another guilty pleasure.  It's a pop song, no doubt, but sue me, 'cuz I like it!

"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" - Who would have thought that a bizarre attack on Dan Rather would inspire such a fun song?

I'm sure other fans have their personal faves that I've left out, but those are the ones that impacted me the most.  Some joke that it's about time R.E.M. disbanded, and others jest that they thought they broke up years ago, but for me they will be missed.  They may not have had the impact on rock compared to other bands, but they still contributed to the legacy of music that shaped our lives, and it will be sad to know that there likely won't be any new music to come from them.

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