Tuesday, May 10, 2011

90's Hit Parade #66

In March of 1997, I packed up all our stuff in a Ryder truck and headed west towards Los Angeles. I stuck a cassette in the tape deck and listened to this song, from the then-newish album New Adventures in Hi Fi. It was an obvious choice for its Hollywood imagery, its specific invocation of Mullholand Drive, but most of all for Stipe's refrain: "I'm not scared/I'm outa here." As I drove across the country (took us 5 days), Comet Hale-Boppe was in the sky, and in the hour or so that I was still driving after the sun went down I could see it just over the western horizon, leading me on. (Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, an apocalyptic cult called Heaven's Gate was preparing to commit mass suicide in hopes of catching a ride from interstellar pilgrims they believed were hidden in the comet.) That's the image that always enters my mind when I hear this song, one of my very favorite songs of REM's career. Here's a couple other late-90's REM tracks I like a lot:

Yeah, this is one of the greatest "I'm gonna win your heart," "to dream the impossible dream" songs ever written. Michael just pours so much passion and emotion into that chorus!

This is maybe the last (so far) truly GREAT REM song (although you could make a strong case for "Living Well is the Best Revenge"). I'm not sure I'm really capable of writing well about REM songs. I have a hard time figuring out what it is I like about them, or at least putting it in words, and I fear I might be puncturing the magic by over analyzing them, so let's just leave it at that.


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