CAN AN ALBUM CHANGE YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU'RE NOT EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT?
It was just announced that R.E.M's "Out Of Time" will see its 25th anniversary release this fall. http://m.pitchfork.com/thepitch/1053-an-oral-history-of-rems-out-of-time/
- •Its true. I can't begin to explain how it's cosmically possible, but it is.
- •It doesn't make any sense... comprehending a connection to music nowhere actually suited for a child of five or six years old.But I did. My parents had this incredible stereo system running through their bedroom and bathroom. I can remember asking for them to put this album in by name, asking them to skip over "Low" because it wasn't splashy enough compared to the rest of side A.
- •I like this album and feel as strongly about it as I did in childhood. The same elements send a shiver up my spine.I visualize the same golden haze to layered chorus of "Near Wild Heaven." I consider my spirit figure to be a mandolin, surely influenced by "Losing My Religion." This record is also absolutely ruled by the tenor and timbre of so many melodic lead guitar lines in particular, like the one that starts the album on "Radio Song" and the one that drives the chorus of "Shiny Happy People." I actually just refer to this as Athens Guitar, even and especially when I hear it replicated by other artists.
- •I just never imagined it would be laced with such power and life-brightening serendipity.
- •Exhibit A: How I landed in Athens, Georgia in the first placeIt was a place on a map I etched permanently into my mental Rolodex from reading many issues of Rolling Stone, as my reference point for the place that bore the inexplicable magic I felt from "Out Of Time" - AND the best music city in the country, praised repeatedly.
- •I went to visit Athens during the spring break of my senior year of high school. I had been accepted to five schools, and wait listed at one: The University of Georgia.The second I opened the car door after a 10 hour trip and took one breath, I said: I need to be here. There was something in the air. If you ever get to go there, you will agree. I promise.
- •I wrote an additional admissions essay to confirm my place on the wait list, and was instructed to commit to another school. I wouldn't find out if I was accepted until sometime after the national deadline.
- •Instead - I found out a week before, at the end of April. My dad was literally walking out the door of our house to drop my commitment check to Syracuse off at the post office when he heard the house phone ring. That call was me telling him I'd gotten into Georgia.
- •Exhibit B: the noticeably adorable man on stilts from the "Shiny Happy People" video taught me in Comparative Literature my sophomore year.
- •To me, he is the most quintessential of Athens' one of that city's exemplary free spirits: running experimental interactive fringe theater, starting a donation-based yoga studio where donations went to polar bear preservation...During the time I took his class, he invented the diligent charting and translation of his own emotions on a daily basis.
- •Exhibit C: Kate PiersonI'd wager any redheaded child is seeking solidarity, and I would happen to see it so many times in Kate Pierson as a kid: Pete and Pete, music videos, and of course her Muppet rendering for "Furry Happy Monsters."
- •Exhibit D: R.E.M. "reunited" in a mostly complete form two distinct times during my tenure in Athens. One of those occasions was the very end of a Baseball Project / Minus Five show at the Georgia Theatre I stumbled into after a sorority formal upon some rumors. The one song played: "Country Feedback."I dropped out of said sorority immediately after that semester. Don't worry about it.
- •Exhibit E: Woodstock. The oral history piece above includes recording time spent in Bearsville, detailing an exceptional memory of performing "The Weight" at a local restaurant alongside Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko.In 2012, I took a trip to Woodstock where We crashed in a hilltop cabin personally decorated and furnished by Kate Pierson. My friends and I were also treated profoundly strangely attending dinner at Little Bear for being too young and too stoned to mesh with the locals, despite a framed review from High Times hanging immediately inside the restaurant's doorway. Later that same summer, I would witness Garth Hudson's first public appearance in years onstage with Wilco in Saratoga Springs.
- •I guess the moral of this is: you can't be Out of Time when you're timeless.And sometimes, time just takes care of you.