I had a friend in high school who hated R.E.M. I don’t mean that he just kind of disliked them, or that maybe Michael Stipe pissed him off once at a gay club in Seattle; no, he outright despised R.E.M. I never understood why, since I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was a little kid. My dad was heavily into The Carpenters, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and R.E.M. I got into them by listening to his copy of the Monster album–you know, the most accessible one for a kid my age–and I immediately dug it.
My friend, who has since gone on to hate such varied acts as The Dandy Warhols (whom I like) and REO Speedwagon (whom I don’t, but really, he’s a little late to hate the Wagon), had compared them to having stomach cancer and eating a fistful of habanero peppers. Now, I can’t think of many things more painful than that, but R.E.M. isn’t even on the close-seconds list. Maybe an extended Rush listening session with Alex Lifeson sitting beside you describing gay bestiality porn while hitting you in the kidney with a reflex hammer is close to my friend’s comparison, but not really.
I picked up the latest R.E.M. greatest hits album for eight bucks the other night, and I haven’t stopped listening to it yet. It’s awesome, if a bit lacking, as most greatest hits albums tend to be. There are a few personal favorites I would rather have seen on the playlist, but for eight dollars, I’m not going to bitch too loudly. One thing, though: It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) is not one of their best efforts. It’s good, and damned catchy, but God Almighty annoying after one or two listenings. Love Hurts is another I would feel better hearing less of, but even it’s not nearly as grating as (And I Feel Fine). Maybe it was the ubiquitous trailer to…what was that movie again? Dammit. Mid-Nineties, something about aliens, Randy Quaid dies in a plane crash…
Shit. Okay, never mind.
Independence Day! Oh thank God. That could have kept me up for a year thinking about the title to that damn movie. Anyway, if you’ll remember, that song was like the anthem for that movie, only it was played not at baseball games, but every thirty goddamned seconds for a year on every single channel available for human viewing. For me, that will ruin a good song every time.
As I said, the new R.E.M. greatest hits isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s worth it for the price. Why not pick it up and intentionally not listen to two or three of the tracks?
Alternately, you could buy it, crank up that song on repeat, and spend the rest of the night making alien-killing sounds while your neighbors’ kids hide under their beds.
So, in summation: R.E.M. is much better than having stomach cancer and eating a fistful of habanero peppers. Just take my word for it.
Okay, because I am a multi-layered cosmos of stupid, I need to clarify a few things about this post:
1) The album is called “The Best of REM: In Time, 1988-2003”.
2) “Love Hurts” is not on any REM album ever sold to anyone, ever. That’s by Nazareth. I’m sure you all knew that. “Everybody Hurts” is a much better song, with the added bonus of actually being an REM song.
3) That song is not on this album. I just assumed it was for some unknown reason.
4) That reason is that I am painfully, crushingly, mind-bogglingly stupid.