February 3, 2023

This text was initially printed in 2017, however we’re dusting it off for Michael Stipe’s birthday on January 4th.


For those who’re in any respect like me, you in all probability affiliate sure bands with particular moods. In different phrases, you flip to those bands once they suit your way of thinking, match how your day went, or simply appear to sound how you are feeling.

R.E.M. has by no means been a type of bands for me, although. Irrespective of my temper, mindset, or emotion, there’s an R.E.M. album or sound that fits me. “I’ve lived a full life,” Michael Stipe as soon as sang, and I feel that’s how we felt concerning the band once they parted methods in 2011. To look again at their catalog then or now’s to see a band which have lived a full life — and life to the fullest — leaving few stones of the band expertise unflipped or unskipped.

All these years later, R.E.M. stays a band to vent to, cry to, and dance alongside. There are songs to make you keep in mind, songs to make you neglect, and songs actually sung to avoid wasting your life. Once more, regardless of how you are feeling, they’ve one thing for you, and it’s exhausting to think about a greater catalogue of songs to develop up with, to develop with, and, lastly, to develop previous with.

So, listed below are 20 R.E.M. songs we discover ourselves turning to lately greater than most. And, fortunately, there are a lot extra the place they got here from.

Matt Melis


20. “Start the Start”

Lifes Wealthy Pageant (1986)

Sleeping by a revolution is a cardinal sin, as “Start the Start” argues from the get-go: “Birdie within the hand for all times’s wealthy demand/ The insurgency started and also you missed it.” It’s a biting line that Michael Stipe repeats time and again for full impact, splattering his listeners with passive-aggressive guilt, as he later leans on aggression and loses any guff: “Silence means safety, silence means approval.” It’s straightforward to see why the opening observe off R.E.M.’s fourth studio album, Lifes Wealthy Pageant, would open so a lot of their dwell performances. It’s a timeless assertion for progressives in all places, and as such, extremely emblematic of the band as an entire. Let’s hear once more. — Michael Roffman

19. “Fairly Persuasion”

Reckoning (1984)

With its jangly, arpeggiated chords and driving rhythm part, “Fairly Persuasion” doesn’t appear misplaced on 1984’s Reckoning, although R.E.M. allegedly penned the music years earlier. There’s a transparent power-pop affect right here, and Peter Buck’s sparkly intro riff units the tone for a darker, extra ominous model of The Data’ “Starry Eyes” (launched a yr earlier than R.E.M. fashioned, in 1979). Michael Stipe virtually feels like a punk singer as he rails in opposition to the “hurry and purchase” impulse of consumerism, his anger intermingling with the jangly melody to create one thing odd and inexplicably charming. — Collin Brennan

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