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I grew old with REM


The Beatles broke up in 1971, we sat in the back seat without seat belts, and Ma was driving my dad’s 1969 faint yellow Chevy Nova on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington. The news broke that the band was calling it quits. Why?
Yesterday by habit, I checked Twitter and saw the NPR release after REM’s…calling it quits. I had to tell Ali and I dreaded it. It’s been a tough week, on Monday the doctors found a near fatal blood clot in her lung. She’s doing fine, had therapy today. On Tuesday night she told me this week sucked and yesterday, Wednesday, her favorite band breaks up.
The first time I saw REM was back in 1983 on MTV’s 120 minutes, the song was Radio Free Europe. It was a black and white and a rare appearance from Reverend Finster made the video mythical. In Rolling Stone there was a small piece on them, the fact they came from the same town as the B-52’s Athens GA. I walked more than ten miles to buy the IRS album, Murmur and their music changed my life. The lyrics, whatever martyr misconstrue meant and 9-9, Talk About the Passion, the album was not just one song which I heard before, it was the whole product. Eventually I saw them as one of the opening acts for The Police at Shea Stadium on August 18 that year. I remember the rain and hiding under a tarp in the outfield and clearly being one of the few in the crowd who knew the music. I grew up with the band. Eventually interviewing them for the high school radio station and seeing them perform at a local roller skating rink, the beacon, Nassau coliseum, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and up in Massachusetts on their last tour. Last night Ali and I were discussing the fact we may never see the band again, but we have so many memories, of meeting the band back stage at Jones Beach and outside Carnegie Hall. I even wrote a novel using the lyrics from Mr. Richards and dedicated Killer Commute to the old dinosaurs from Athens. We passed our love of the band to our children who know their music as well as we do. We made the trip to Athens and have bought the rare and limited editions. We have a used drum head from Bill Berry from the Monster tour. We have all of these things, but the music will live on. Thank you for being together as long as you had, I can say we grew old together. I wish them the best in their own ambitions, and I hope there will be some benefit concerts in the future. There has to be more shows…right? I guess I can hope. On a personal level, the music has inspired our lives, as my wife beats cancer their song. Walk Unafraid is our anthem.

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