R.E.M.embered

  This one goes out to the band I love

•   My date for an early R.E.M. concert has a Rapid Evaluation Mishap

•   I finally get to interview them . . after they lose their drummer

The first time I saw R.E.M. perform live, my date pronounced them D.O.A.

My arrival at network radio in 1983 roughly coincided with the emergence on the music scene of R.E.M., the Athens, Georgia, quartet who had recently signed to the I.R.S. label. One of the great perks of my new job as Reporter on the Road at ABC Radio News was . . . magazines! Before I even moved to NY, I was told to make a list of all the publications I’d want to read to keep up with the youth culture I’d be covering and they’d get me subscriptions. Christmas for a magazine freak! One of the publications was CMJ New Music Monthly (just in case there aren’t enough triple-initialed entities in this piece,), which monitored college radio playlists and included in each issue a CD with new artists.

So, I knew R.E.M. and loved their sound. Couldn’t decipher many or most of Michael Stipe’s lyrics, but that was part of the charm. When they were booked in 1986 into the Felt Forum, the theater inside Madison Square Garden, I lined up tickets and a date. She was someone I was fixed up with in my early years in New York by a mutual friend who had volunteered to do some media matchmaking. My date was an entertainment editor at Glamour magazine.

I thought R.E.M.’s concert was great. She said she liked them but didn’t think they “were going anywhere.” We didn’t go anywhere, either. No second date. (And no, the missing musical simpatico wasn’t the only reason; the chemistry just wasn’t there.)

I didn’t get a chance to interview R.E.M. for about a dozen years, until their 1998 release, Up.

Here’s the CNN piece. It’s safe for work . . especially overnight work, you day sleepers.

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