And what about the absolutely brilliant "Losing My Religion," the first cassette single I ever bought. Or the way that "Driver 8" and "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" always make me yearn for a road trip, right then and there. Or the way that "Nightswimming" will always take me back to one weekend the summer after high school, when a bunch of us spent the weekend at the beach. Or the brainy-moody-sweetness of "Talk About the Passion," which gets me every time. And their last album "Collapse Into Now," released in March, that I've listened to on almost every drive down to North Carolina since I bought it.
For me, R.E.M. was the promise of What's Next. The notion that ideas and passion and dialogue and debate and pain and joy were around the corner,that I was Almost There. That college would be the best thing that happened to me, or grad school, or young adulthood, or something. That I would craft a life that found a way to match my ideals and weirdness and energy.That even if I didn't, the yearning might just be enough.
R.E.M. was like a bug bite underneath my skin, itching again when I needed it, just when I'd almost forgotten what it felt like. They helped me dream big dreams, and hope for a life that was more me than the moment was. I've figured out how to be happy in my reality, but when I listen to R.E.M., a little part of me always wonders how much more today could be something that only I could create. And because I am who I am (did you listen to "World Leader Pretend?"), I love them for that. And always will.