Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scared, Not Out Of Here

I'm half-surprised that Matthew Perpetua's Q&A with Michael Stipe on his PopSongs blog hasn't gotten more attention (I hope fan boards are burning up over it at least). Stipe is remarkably candid (this couldn't have happened in 1994) and Matthew doesn't waste the unexpected access. That his comprehensive song review blog could achieve such a grand finale is proof that music blogging of the non-commercial variety is still a worthwhile thing.

But I'm only half-surprised, because REM hasn't made more than a handful of worthwhile songs in the last decade. As much as I enjoy a track like "Imitation Of Life" or "Hope," I'd happily give them up if it meant history could be altered - if the band had stuck to their oft-repeated promise that if anybody left the group, they were done. What could have been remembered as the college rock Led Zeppelin is now an amalgam of the worst aspects of late XTC and late Rolling Stones. Imagine if their reunion for the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame had been their first performance since 1996! We might not have minded Michael Stipe over-enunciating "Gardening At Night!"

In that alternate reality, Matt and Michael's dialogue could be a highly publicized book. It could probably still get published in this one, too. If you are now or have ever been a die-hard REM fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out.


Matthew Perpetua said...

Hey Anthony, just to be clear, but it's not a dialogue between Michael and I -- the only place that happens is at the start of the final post. The rest of the questions were sent in by readers/fans.

It is kinda weird that more people didn't pick up on it. He's never done anything like that before and he's a notoriously cryptic guy.

Matthew Perpetua said...

Also, though I understand your point of view, the funny thing about the Q&A is that it best served the songs from more recent records, and allowed him to elaborate on ideas in songs that he'd pretty much never had an opportunity to speak about in the media. Once people stopped caring so much about the new material, all interviews just started focusing on the broad strokes, or his personal life, or his career in general. There's definitely a few answers in there that made me rethink/reconsider songs that I didn't give much thought, even when I had to write a post about them. That's pretty nice. It also makes me think about how much music fandom comes from those bits of artist intention you can glean from interviews.

The Manthony said...

yeah I guess I making it sound like readers aren't submitting the questions, but I'm curious - I know that Stipe chose which questions to answer, but did you screen some out as well? I'd assume you did, as I can't imagine Michael would bother to sort through redundancies or empty "OMG I LOVE YOUUUUU" shit himself.

The Manthony said...

I guess its more honest to say your dialogue (or rather the dialogue you're helping to enable) could be the core of a book more so than a book itself. Though based on how REM works, the tone would alter significantly if this was done at a higher profile.