Thursday, February 10, 2011

27. R.E.M. - Out of Time (1991)

45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
Out of Time (1991)
It took me a couple of years to warm up to R.E.M.. By 1988 I'd softened enough to see the Green (1988) tour, which increased my appreciation for the band. After the concert (at the Met Center on 3.8.89, the day before my 23rd birthday) my friends and I attended an after-show bowling party where I stood in the company of Michael Stipe and Bob Mould (the other R.E.M. members arrived later after catching a Robyn Hitchcock show at First Avenue). I even worked up the nerve to ask Stipe for his autograph but was shot down with a terse "I don't do autographs - I'll shake your hand later."  Yeah, uh, don't do me any favors Mikey. Let's just say I didn't stick around for that handshake.

Ticket stubs from Monster & Up tours
By 1991 I was primed for a new R.E.M. album, and Out of Time far exceeded my expectations. The record was so adventurous,  unlike anything they'd recorded previously.  It was gorgeous, lush, beautiful, and gorgeous.  Out of Time was a huge success, which unfortunately resulted in a bit of R.E.M. overkill. It took over a decade for me to not switch stations whenever "Losing My Religion" came on the radio; Thankfully it's been long enough that I'm able to enjoy the song again.  Over the next ten years I would see R.E.M. in concert two more times, on the tours for Monster (their last with drummer Bill Berry), and the highly under-appreciated (in my opinion) Up.

In a 1998 episode of VH1's Behind the Music the following comment by Michael Stipe helped to change the course of my life:
Stipe: "I felt forced forced to talk about my sexuality and, you know, my queerness, just because I felt like I was being looked on as a coward for not talking about it. And I abhor that, you know."
Coward. That word really stuck in my side, eventually annoying me enough to finally address my own sexuality. I hated the idea of being a coward, or living the rest of my life in fear. I knew I deserved better. Within a year I officially came out to myself and a few close friends. In July '99 I met the man that is now my husband.
Spring Break in Ft. Myers Florida, 1991, 
The same month "Losing My Religion" hit the airwaves.
So yeah, I didn't get that autograph in 1989, but ten years later Stipe gave me something much greater -- the courage to be myself.

I'd still like that autograph tho. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Come on Jeff. Cowardice is not a premise for addressing ones sexuality? Animals don't really care about labels? Right? Go back and listen to the REM song "What's the Frequency Kenneth", near the end of the song (2:48 seconds) it sounds like Mikey's saying, "you want to shit violently of love"...I always gotta a crack out of that.

Love ya Jeff