April 5th is a very special day to lots of people, 1980 – 2020 . . .

(this part written late on 4/4/20):

April 5, 2020, 40 years since R.E.M. played their first show–  no band name yet, hadn’t decided yet, at Kathleen O’Brien’s birthday party at the old St Mary’s church in Athens GA on Oconee Street on the way down the hill toward the river. I wasn’t there– even then as a second year law student, I guess I didn’t stay up that late!  But I was there 2 weeks later when they played the notorious Koffee Klub show at 1:45 AM at the very bottom of Clayton Street and the cops came and the band was really good playing on a flat floor, they had some great songs from day one, and then it all happened from there.

Anyway, I get asked all the time my favorite R.E.M. song but I honestly don’t have just one, maybe one for each of the 16 records:

1) Gardening at Night from Chronic Town;
2) Pilgrimage from Murmur
3   Letter Never Sent from Reckoning
4) Maps and Legends from Fables
5) Just a Touch from Pageant
6) The One I Love from Document
7) Turn You Inside-Out from G4een
8) Losing My Religion from Out of Time
9) Try Not To Breathe from Automatic
10) WTF Kenneth from Monster
11) So Fast, So Numb from New Adventures
12) Diminished from Up
13) All the Way To Reno from Reveal
14) Wanderlust from Around the Sun
15) Horse to Water from Accelerate
16) Walk it Back from Collapse into Now

They have also had tons of other great songs, shows, fun  and friends along the way

This one never actually made a regular record but it made a movie and a Best Of, and it’s a great song (All The Right Friends) that many people still haven’t heard– they had a million of ’em:


And it’s the one I am going to sleep on tonight.

Thanks guys,



(the rest written early 4/5/20)

PS Okay what the heck!?  My personal favorite songs that seem most prophetic now all these years later, by album:

1)  Chronic Town: Wolves, Lower
2)  Murmur: Radio Free Europe
3)  Reckoning: Camera
4)  Fables: Life and How To Live It
5)  Pageant: These Days
6)  Document: Finest Worksong
7)  Green: World Leader Pretend
8)  Out of Time: Country Feedback
9)  Automatic: Monty Got a Raw Deal
10) Monster: Let Me In
11) New Adventures: Bittersweet Me
12) Up: You’re In the Air
13) Reveal: Disappear
14) Around the Sun: Aftermath
15) Accelerate: Until the Day is Done
16) Collapse Into Now: Discoverer/Blue

Damn, they were really good those guys. And these lists inevitably leave out other songs every bit as good the ones picked….damn.  #REM40

PPS okay one more: a sense of where they were, place always seemed to matter in their music:

Quoth the poet: everybody here comes from somewhere:

Collapse Into Now: Oh My Heart (NOLA)
Accelerate: Houston (NOLA)
Around the Sun:  Leaving New York
Reveal: Imitation of Life (Hollywood)
Up: Daysleeper (New York, Beijing)
New Adventures: Departure (Singapore, San Sebastian)
Monster: Star 69 (could be anywhere?)
Automatic: New Orleans Instrumental No. 1
Out of Time: Texarkana
Green: Stand (your town goes here!)
Document: Exhuming McCarthy (Washington, DC)
Pageant: Cuyahoga (Cleveland)
Fables:  Can’t Get There From Here (Philomath, GA)
Reconstruction: Little America (another Greenville…another
Murmur: West of the Fields (NOLA)
Chronic Town: Carnival of Sorts (Athens/everywhere else)

And after making three lists including 49-50 different songs (I think), I still did not include songs like So Central Rain (I’m Sorry), Sitting Still, Find the River, All the Best, Driver 8, Shaking Through…..and a bunch more from some combination of Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe.

Okay, this is fun but I gotta get some “work” done!  Photo from that first night:  Sandra Lee Phipps (I think, had to be)