Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Must Be Time For Penitence

Shelly was out for a much needed evening with friends, Alexis was downstairs, and Emily was crabby...really crabby. Luckily, she's a big fan of going for a ride, and generally falls asleep in her car seat by the time we've driven 2 blocks down the road. Tonight was no exception.

So, it was just me and a sleeping baby, out burning some fossil fuel. What'ya gonna do? I needed the time "alone" to clear my head. Work has been insanely busy, but that's OK, I suppose. The real story is that I had grabbed a CD on the way out the door, Eponymous by R.E.M. It'd been awhile since I spent some quality time with this disc, among the first things I ever bought on the CD format.

Some people loathe "greatest hits" albums, and I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of them either. But, as a college student without sufficient means to replace my vinyl Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant and Document with CDs, this one made a ton of sense to me at the time. Plus, some of these versions were different anyway.

DAMN! What a killer line-up! The original hib-tone single version of "Radio Free Europe"--apparently Peter Buck thinks it's a piece of shit--man, I think it's fantastic. Then there's the different vocal mix version of "Gardening at Night," which is the absolute tits--LOVE it! "Talk About the Passion"--Hello, is there a better song? "So. Central Rain"--oh, yeah, that's my favorite (I almost forgot). But wait, Track 5 is "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville." That's my favorite, without question. "Can't Get There From Here" would almost certainly be the best song on 99.9% of the albums ever released by anyone. Here it blends right in, actually running the risk of being overlooked between Rockville and "Driver 8."

Now, I finally have a real complaint with Track 8, "Romance." I appreciate that I don't need to buy the soundtrack for Made In Heaven to get it. And, I'm usually a fan of chronological order. But, this is a bonus track at best, IMHO. After 7 straight songs that could each be legitimate contenders for "favorite song of all-time" honors, this one doesn't make the grade. This is especially true since it keeps Pageant from getting a second representative here...a crime! (In case you forgot, that's the album with "Begin the Begin" and "Cuyahoga" and "Swan Swan H." and "Superman" and "Hyena" and the fucking-a-righteous "The Flowers of Guatemala" to name a few.) Alas, the ship is righted immediately with "Fall on Me." It doesn't get any better than that.

Finally, the CD closes with a trio from Document: "The One I Love" (which was overplayed like hell in 1987, but is still a heavyweight-champion type of song), "Finest Worksong" (with a mix of horns that's killer), and the completely incomparable "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)." The beauty is that the van's CD player just cycles right back to "Radio Free Europe" when it's over...

I drove for 3 complete listens through this CD (except for skipping "Romance" the second and third times it came around). My head hasn't been this clear in months.

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Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Nothing like windshield time to make everything clear.

8:47 AM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger Grant Miller said...

I had that album on Tape and never got it on disc because I figured I had it all anyway. "Romance" is the only one I don't have and I can barely remember how it goes.

4:45 PM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger Dale said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. Etc. It's a great 'document' Haahnster and you did it justice.

7:50 PM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"So, it was just me and a sleeping baby, out burning some fossil fuel. What'ya gonna do? I needed the time "alone" to clear my head."

What, no Neil Diamond???

11:08 AM, May 18, 2007  
Blogger Jeremy said...

All this reminds me of Pavement's lyrics to "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence":

Some bands I like to name check,
And one of them is REM,
Classic songs with a long history
Southern boys just like you and me.
R - E - M
Flashback to 1983,
Chronic Town was their first EP
Later on came Reckoning
Finster's art, and titles to match:
South Central Rain, Don't Go Back To Rockville,
Harbourcoat, Pretty Persuasion,
You were born to be a camera,
Time After Time was my least favourite song,
Time After Time was my least favourite song.

8:56 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger Beth said...

Brilliant post, Haahnster! I love "Romance," so I'm glad it's on the disc. But I'm a completest. And a nerd. And I'm holding back on spewing every drop of trivia my brain has stored on these great songs ...

9:37 PM, May 22, 2007  

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