don't you tell me how i feel.

End of the band as we know it by Steele
September 21, 2011, 3:28 pm
Filed under: band breakup, melancholy shit, Shit I love

After 31 years and 15 albums, R.E.M. called it quits today just as they have always conducted the band: with grace, dignity and sincere thanks.

As an admitted R.E.M. psychopath, you’d think I’d be distraught, but honestly I felt this coming some time ago. They’ve been open about their growing interests outside of the band, and about the challenges of remaining in an industry that no longer puts much value on what they do. I was surprised when they released an album a few months ago, and pleased when it turned out to be their strongest, most cohesive record in years.

That said, I won’t pretend I didn’t get a little choked up by the band statement posted on their website today. “As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” it reads. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment of all we have accomplished.

To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”


The statement includes personal reflections from Mike Mills, who says that “the time just feels right,” and Peter Buck, who says that “One of the things that was so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us. It was, and still is, important to do right by you. Being part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you.”  

My main man Michael Stipe summed up the breakup thus: “A wise man once said, the skill of attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave. We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it.”

These guys have meant more to me than any other artist in music, literature or film, starting with that day in 1991 when I first heard “Losing My Religion” on the radio. When I was a teenager, they talked me through nights of confusion, excitement and uncertainty. As a young(er) adult, they were my constant companions through gut-wrenching heartbreak and self-discovery. As I grew, they grew with me as all great art does. They have been my priests, my friends, my confidantes and my cheerleaders, they are the arms that have always embraced me and held me close. I have a lifetime of memories of all the hours I’ve spent with them. And I know they will always appreciate what we have meant to each other.

Here are the boys from Athens, GA, making their 1983 national television debut on the “David Letterman Show.”

Finally, as it makes for an apropos farewell, a performance of one of my favorite-ever songs.


2 Comments so far
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Can’t believe you didn’t let Vanessa post about this. Not cool.

Comment by Carey Huntington

i know you told me not to think this, but i can’t help but to feel like somehow this is my fault. i’m sorry, steele.

Comment by andrew

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