Days Gone By
March 2, 2011 § 2 Comments
It wasn’t too long ago that I watched a documentary about winemaking and Tool’s elusive frontman Maynard James Keenan. After establishing his own winery, he saw his first successful harvest to bottle and, well, while the process was informative, it was the affirmation that he might just stay in Jerome, Arizona for the rest of his life, squeezing grapes, that made me miss 17. He’s stated many times that he believes in the practice of personal evolution, and the presumption by some fans that he should always scream about fisting with the same inflection, leaves him morally wasted. The songs are meant to relieve Maynard, and possibly the band, from whatever trauma spurred their lyrical construction. Fair enough.
After all, which fans of Nine Inch Nails thought they would see Trent Reznor win a Golden Globe or an Oscar (let alone get married). Our sonic idols are sprouting grey pubes and with this inevitable truth comes a passing into black-light poster status. Perhaps it’s for the best. It’s encouraging to see the ambassadors of our collective angst grow through the years, as we have, into habits (long-term relationships) and endeavors ( gardening) we never thought they’d undertake— these men were too busy being intercontinental badasses. Cruising around in shaded buses, trashing stadium dressing rooms with flour and toilet water (See 1996 double VHS Nine Inch Nails, Closure), consuming any number of high fat, high calorie snacks— these were the pastimes of such great men.
The consolation I’m about to offer may seem anti-climactic in relation to the bands I’ve mentioned. After all, I’ve never read any reports of R.E.M. frontman, Michael Stipe drinking too much Heineken and accosting a pug with a plunger. But that doesn’t mean they don’t rock. That said, their latest offering, Collapse Into Now, is an impressive mix of fast and loud, slow and depressing, and not too loud but fast enough not to skip over. The significance is in their self-inflicted longevity. Every now and then it happens with a band. They just don’t know when to stop. And while I’ve never particularly felt that way about R.E.M., I’m glad to know that the band’s sound has evolved along with its listeners— those relatively new, and those who remember the release of “Radio Free Europe” when it was actually on the radio.
R.E.M. has performed and recorded for so long, they’ve built up an impressive roster of comrades, some who join the boys from Athens, Georgia on Collapse: Eddie Vedder, strangely enough Peaches, and long time mentor to Stipe, Patti Smith.
There was a time in my life when I fell so deeply for the words of Michael Stipe that I went online, found the lyrics to every single R.E.M. song (at the time, 1999?), printed them out and pasted them to my wall. My room looked like a WWII bunker plastered with news clips. While I can admit there are moments when I give into the power of nostalgia, I can safely say that this album spins on its own merits.
The Collapse Tour kicks off on March 8th in Portland, Oregon.
For ticket info click here
The new album hits stores on March 8th, for a generous first listen visit NPR.org