I remember the very first time I heard R.E.M.'s music. A girl down the hall in our college dorm ran in and said she had just bought "the hottest album on campus." We went into her room and she played it on her little record player. The album was Reckoning. And I was not impressed.
It wasn't until a couple of years later that I learned to appreciate their music. Actually, some people said I became "obsessed." I guess it's because I am one of those people who plays music over and over and over again. My brother had Life's Rich Pageant and I listened to it so many times that R.E.M.'s music was banned in our tiny apartment. Something about Michael Stipe's voice seemed magical to me. I was officially hooked.
I bought more and more of their music until I could proudly say that I owned a complete collection, including remixes and bootlegs. I played their music exclusively in my CD player and car. Some of my friends would rejoice when a new album came out just to hear something different.
And like any superfan, I have seen them live in concert. My favorite R.E.M. concert experience occurred in Miami. It was the first time I had seen R.E.M. perform and I had seats in the third row. I was so close that I could see the smudging of the blue makeup mask Michael Stipe had on that night. They started to play "Pop Song 89" and Michael said, "Hello." I totally kept it together as I screamed and waved while sitting on top of someone's shoulders. Michael looked right at me and asked, "How you doin?" It was a total fan moment forever seared in my memory. My heart still skips a beat even as I type this today.
And after a wonderful 31-year run, R.E.M. has called it a day. Sure, I can play any one of their songs on my iPhone, iPod and MacBook, but the sad part is that I won't be able to see them perform together on the same stage ever again. I guess that's the down side for fans when their favorite band knows when it's time to leave the party.
By Ana Bogusky