REM BLOG CONTEST
I can only speak for how the first two albums affected me personally … I got interested in them after reading a review somewhere that likened Michael Stipe’s mumbling singing to the sound of bees buzzing over a field or meadow … I bought both Reckoning and Murmer and really got into deciphering what in blazes Stipe was singing about. My assistant (PBUH) mentioned having encountered a book as a child about several Chinese brothers who had to do amazing feats … such as swallowing the ocean … Hmmm … put “Chinese Brothers” on again and sure enough the chorus included “seven Chinese brothers swallowing the ocean” … a breakthrough of sorts. Around the same time I discovered 10,000 Maniacs and there was Michael Stipe singing with Natalie Merchant (on “Campfire Song”) … when I found the earlier Maniacs’ albums I found that Ms. Merchant could mumble every bit as well as Mr Stipe could … Robert Christgau suggested she was actually singing in Polynesian. During concerts Natalie pulled people out of the audience to do the Michael part in “Campfire Song” … on one occasion she expelled the picked person for bing incapable of keeping to the tune. The other thing that attracted me to REM was Peter Buck’s jangly Rickenbacker 12 string (a bonus came later when I discovered Buck was also a Gram Parsons fan). The surname of 10,000 Maniacs’ guitarist was also Buck but I don’t think he was related to Peter. Alas I found REM less interesting when Michael Stipe finally figured out how to be understood … turns out the Maniacs were singing much more socially charged material (about stuff like teenage pregnancies, the Enola Gay’s raid on Hiroshima and alcoholism) while REM were sining about standing and shiny happy people. I think that REM still had some of that first two outing buzz on Dead Letter Office (or was it Chronic Town). Anyone know what a Moral Kiosk is?