Saturday, October 8, 2011


I was just thinking about R.E.M. quitting after all these years. I’ve seem ‘em several times and they’ve passed through my life in other ways too.

I worked at Wuxtry up until 1982. Michael Stipe and Peter Buck worked at our store in Athens, Georgia.

My boss Dan really liked them. He called them the new Southern Rock.

They were part of the cool underground scene, but I never really liked them until (Don't Go Back To) Rockville came out on their third record “Reckoning” in 1984. Man I loved that song! I was alone at the time and a song about a deserted lover in a shut-down steel mill town was perfect. I was still hurting from my girl friend Pam’s departure.

My friends Stephen Martin and Jon Rosen used to play it on a Monday night jam session they threw at 1860s Saloon in Soulard.

One night, after playing the song, the band went on break. My friend Mengesha and I went outside for the break. Soulard was still being rehabbed then. We were drunk and stupid and decided to climb scaffolding at a building under construction. With our cocktails in hand we stumbled up the street to a bar called The Great Grizzly Bear. We were about to walk in when the bouncer informed us there was a cover charge. A young band named Uncle Tupelo had just been signed and they were throwing a record release party.

We stayed outside and heckled the band. Now I love that band and every offshoot. If I’d only known!

Coincidentally their first three records were on the Rockville Records label.

Somewhere around this time my friends Sharon and Joanie and I went up to Hannibal, MO to see a Monkees reunion show. Sharon and I even rode the Clarksville sky lift and watched the last train come in.

After the show we went back to our hotel where I literally bumped into Mickey Dolenze who was also staying there.

Joanie’s young niece Kelly was always part of the hip crowd and we were invited to a big party in the middle of the woods. I think they were using a generator for electricity. We were in our mid twenties and totally out of place with this young crowd. I overheard a kid say, “Let’s get the old guy to buy more booze!” They were blasting nothing but R.E.M. from a P.A. system.

I saw R.E.M. a couple of times at places like the Kiel Opera House.

Years later, in the heart of my skydiving period, my team drove up from Sparta, IL to the Riverport Amphitheater to see them. Michael Stipe had just had some kind of surgery and was apologizing for a few weak moments. The show was incredible. Stipe’s lyrics were so complex he had to use a teleprompter to remember them.

My team was called Muffy and the Divers. Muffy was pretty enough that a group of Hooters girls told us we could get in for free and up close if we said we were from Kansas City. I played the bar manager. I was the oldest member of my team.

I think we saw The Cure that way too.

It’s been thirty years of watching that band go through life’s changes, I wish them well.

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