The pioneers of the American new wave called themselves REM, an ironic name for a band that woke up the guitar rock genre that had been in slumber since before the disco craze of the 70s. The group has endured, creating many smash hits and platinum albums.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of REM’s debut album, Murmur , in 1983. In honor of the band’s important milestone, I offer these ten songs from their impressive discography.
“So. Central Rain” from Reckoning : Subtitled “I’m Sorry” because of the pleading chorus, this hit remains one of the band’s signature classics.
“Don’t Go Back to Rockdale” from Reckoning : The group proudly showed here its country leanings, a trend prefaced by its older British cousins Squeeze and Elvis Costello.
“Losing My Religion” from Out of Time: The song with the mandolin and anti-Christian title became ubiquitous, making REM a name recognized in every American household.
“Driver 8” from Fables of the Reconstruction: This folk-pop number about the train conductor became the strongest single from the third album, which marked a first significant shift in sound from Murmur and Reckoning.
“Exhuming McCarthy” from Document : The band has always had enigmatic lyrics, but there is no chance of misinterpreting the idea here, comparing the Communist witch hunt of McCarthy to the practices of the Reagan administration.
“Second Guessing” from Reckoning : This song has become the ideal soundtrack for Monday morning sports shows, when the ex-jock hosts usually question the play-calling of the coach who wound up on the losing sideline.
“The One I Love” from Document : A simple chord sequence backs simple lyrics, yet somehow this combination results in a classic, complicated love song.
“Man on the Moon” from Automatic for the People : This song served as an ode to actor Andy Kaufman, who became a star by “goofing on Elvis” years before he landed a role on the sitcom Taxi.
“Pretty Persuasion” from Reckoning : Every heterosexual guy can identify with the obvious theme of this opening track: “She’s got pretty persuasion.”
“Everybody Hurts” from Automatic for the People: This heart-acher gained new life when Dwight played it while locked in his car on an episode of The Office, as if the video itself had not been depressing enough a few years before.