Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Can Always Sleep Standing Up

That there title I wrote to this here post is quite "ironical," as I just awoke (awakened? -- too tired to sort out the grammar) from a semi-slumber and cannot seem to return to sleep in any position whatso-fucking-ever. Alas. I have really been digging R.E.M.'s Automatic For The People (1992) lately, might as well write about it now...

This album was released in early October 1992. I had graduated from the University of Illinois in May 1992 a jobless, depressed loser. I had held on to my college apartment throughout the summer until the lease's end in August. When I finally had returned home a penniless, wayward soul, I held a cashier's job at a gas station/convenience store for a few weeks before ultimately settling on a career in restaurant management. My training began in October 1992. Dark and brooding, Automatic For The People was the soundtrack of my life. Four looooong years later, restaurant management proved not to be my career path after all. However, I still enjoy the album quite a bit.

Drive – 4:31
Try Not To Breathe – 3:50
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite – 4:06
Everybody Hurts – 5:17
New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 – 2:13
Sweetness Follows – 4:19
Monty Got a Raw Deal – 3:17
Ignoreland – 4:24
Star Me Kitten – 3:15
Man on the Moon – 5:13
Nightswimming – 4:16
Find the River – 3:50

[All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe.]

A few highlights:

"Drive" has always reminded me more than a bit of a song from my early childhood, "Rock On" by David Essex (...still lookin' for that blue jean baby queen...), especially since that lame-ass soap opera guy (Michael Damian?) had remade the song in the late '80s. That remake changed the chorus from "Hey, did ya rock 'n roll" to "Hey, kids, rock 'n roll." I always figured Stipe was keying off that in an ironic way. Great song, in any case.

"The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" is just one catchy mo-fo of a song, and probably the closest thing to an upbeat, feel-good number on the entire disc.

"Everybody Hurts" is intended as an anti-suicide song, but might be depressing enough to have the opposite effect on some listeners. "Man On The Moon" is such a damned cool song that the 1999 biographical movie about late comedian Andy Kaufman was named after it.

There really isn't a total stinker on the entire CD. Listen to it. It calms the savage beast lurking in the deepest recesses of my soul. I suppose there's just one more cut I'll write about:

"Nightswimming" Wow! What a classic! It's impossible for me to fully describe all that this song captures for me emotionally. Childhood fears...adolescent awkwardness...coming of age...I really cannot put my finger on just what it is exactly. "They cannot see me naked," is such a cool line. And, Stipe's vocal delivery is the aural equivalent of indelible ink. Great song. Truly great.

Oh, I almost forgot, because I've long since given up on caring about the infamous RS list. In any event, this album was #247 of 500. And, no, I'm not oblivious to the fact that string arrangements pervade this entire album (string arrangements by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, nonetheless). Normally, I hate string arrangements. Here, I think they're damned near perfect. [Note to Rob: I'm inching closer to eliminating overproduced from my vocabulary; I'll stick to "poorly produced," as needed.]


Blogger Beth said...

Coffey stands and applauds the Haahnster. And wipes away a single tear.

6:27 AM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Restaurant management is rough, you did the only thing to take the edge off!

8:34 AM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

BTW, Haahnster, I will see the original R.E.M. lineup perform Saturday night at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame inducion ceremony -- along with Gregg Allman, Jermaine Dupri, and Dallas *sniff" Austin. I'll be rubbing shoulders with Quincy Jones and Janet Jackson.

And I may end the evening at Waffle House.

9:21 AM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Beth: You're sweet.

OL: VERY rough (damned customers and employees).

Beth: Now, that sounds like a real hoot.

9:31 AM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

I love this record. "Man on the Moon" is a really touching oddball song for Andy Kaufman. It is great that Michael Stipe does a little Elvis in the chorus. And "Find the River" is a beautiful closing song for the record, sort of shambling guitar/piano pop with the fluid vocal line.

12:50 PM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Dale said...

It really is a fantastic album and you did an amazing job with describing the way it makes you feel. Bravo.

Beth, I'm so happy for you and jealous!

12:55 PM, September 13, 2006  

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