I thought I could artfully tell you how significant this news was to me: R.E.M. is no longer a band.
For days I jotted down thoughts and recollections and felt sure I could share my story without resorting to clichés and empty phrases. I am no historian, no musicologist, but certainly I could paint you a personal picture of what a tremendous impact this band has had on me.
I thought I could tell you tales about how I discovered R.E.M. in high school, devoured them in college and clung to them throughout my 20s and 30s. I thought I could share poignant stories about waiting in midnight lines at record stores every time a new album came out…about the bootleg concert tapes I swapped with other R.E.M. fans…about how incredible it felt (every. single. concert.) to hear those first few notes of my favorite song…how this band was my first real love and the only one I never stopped loving.
I thought for sure I could quote you some inspiring lyrics I know by heart. That I could share the common threads that R.E.M. wove through my life story and personal soundtrack.
But it turns out I don’t have it in me. It turns out I can't bend my words to do justice to what my heart wants to say. And my heart, it is aching right now. Honestly grieving. When I heard the news I surprised even myself by bursting into sudden and excessive tears. I sat there in my office alone, sobbing.
I admit it's a little awkward to share that bit with you. I figure some of you may think it’s borderline crazy that a 39-year-old mother of three is crying over grown men—strangers! musicians! superstars!—and I won’t argue with how it all looks on paper.
But I will tell you that I didn’t feel the least bit melodramatic sitting there crying like a devastated child. Because here's the deal: Something amazing happens when you love a band for so long…the experience turns into a relationship of sorts. And when you find out that the relationship is over—even if the ending comes in the best of situations, in a confluence of “it’s just time” circumstances—it’s still an enormous loss. And this band, this relationship, deserves every tear I shed.
My words may be struggling today, but I can say this without hesitation: it’s been an incredible gift to love R.E.M.'s music for so long. I will always be grateful for the anchor and the inspiration.
Thanks and Godspeed, y’all.