Man, we had no clue, did we?
R.E.M. released Accelerate upon the world and it was immediately hailed by major outlets and by some fans as a much needed “return to form.” The incredibly disappointing Around the Sun (2004) had done much to dampen the spirits of the R.E.M. faithful, despite it finding vibrant new life live on stage during the Dubya years. What we really needed, we cried, was this! Upbeat rock ‘n’ roll! We had a Murmurs.com Survivor themed match, “killing” off a song every week until we had settled on a favorite. Long posts were published. Videos were filmed. Theories of tours and setlists abounded. We joined this weird thing called Twitter to follow remroaddawg’s setlist tweets.
Imagine being in Athens while all your internet friends are watching Vince Moon’s ninetynights footage. Oh that blur? That’s obviously Five Points, Broad, and so on. Yeah, I’ve been to Philomath. I could see the Steeple from my workplace. The fabled trestle was still somewhat stable. Sure, I’ve been to the end of it. Nearly fell. Twenty years of my life flashed before my eyes. This is all absolutely true, by the way, here are photos.
And so when the album finally landed in America on April 1, 2008, it felt like everything that had been waiting in the wings finally converged into the purest, most ATHENS type thing I could’ve ever hoped to experience. I didn’t miss it after all! The magic didn’t dry up in the late 90s! The B-52s just put out Funplex! The Modern Skirts are playing new material from their upcoming album (due in October)! Venice is Sinking just recorded their third album and is currently working on their second (welcome to Athens). HOLY SHIT PYLON IS PLAYING AND I’M ON THE POSTER FOR THE SHOW.
Yeah, our President sucked and I was working nearly full time while going to school full time and also doing my radio show at WUOG at night. But the air was electric. Change was coming. So much happened so quickly that I started a little blog to try and record it all. I met Bertis that year, I voted for Obama, I celebrated Mike Mills’ fiftieth birthday with him djaying for FOUR HOURS at WUOG. I saw my first and only R.E.M. show. I got PAID to write about MUSIC for Flagpole. What a weird, wonderful year.
Ten short years later and R.E.M. is gone as are Pylon and the Tasty World and the Modern Skirts and the Melting Point and nearly every single band I covered in my first two years as AMJ. My poor little blog was one of the lost music blogs of the mid-aughts, done in by my own need to work full time and not having the money or time for it.
But When I listen to Accelerate now, it’s impossible for me to separate it from that time in my earliest twenties when everything was ahead of me. I could go into detail about how boringly pop and same sounding the first four tracks are, how the record was less a return to form than a return to radio friendly, etc. But I won’t. Because “Sing for the Submarine” will do me in every time. Because “Houston” became relevant again far too soon. Because the lyric sheet for “I’m Gonna DJ” (ATL 08) is framed and sitting on my desk and sometimes it’s okay to not pick every little thing apart.
Not all music is meant to last forever. Songs have to end. Life moves you along. Every day seems to be another chance for everything to fall into chaos. The President is somehow even worse than the Dubya years. We’ve all lost so many good people close to us. But I’m still here, somehow, and so are you. Twenty year old me could have never dreamed of the things I’ve gotten to do since ’08. Hope is out there. To Wit…
‘Cause if heaven does exist with a kickin’ playlist, I don’t wanna miss it at the end of the world. Let’s go.