Green by R.E.M. “Athens Finest”

22 January 2010

When I was 16, my english teacher, Jack McLaughlin, a great great teacher so passionate about poetry and prose, walked into a chattering classroom of teenagers and without warning, slammed his hand down on his desk “BANG!!” The ensuing silence was broken by his voice. “R.E.M. are the greatest rock band in the world.”

That was the first time I heard of R.E.M.

Some months later, my friend played some for me in his room. It sounded so different to anything I had heard. It felt like discovering a new primary colour. It sounded american. It sounded so hopeful. It sounded grown up. That voice. Who was that voice? Who was playing guitar? These drum patterns were so unique, the backing vocals were the sound of another song happening at the same time as the main song. It was the sound that Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills made together. They hailed from a place called Athens in Georgia. Athens? Cool! Here began the longest love affair I ever had with a band.

I never saw R.E.M. live. We played with them in South America recently but it was 3 of R.E.M and some other great musicians. It wasn’t R.E.M though. The day Bill Berry retired to become a gentleman farmer was the day R.E.M became something different. Michael Stipe once said something along the lines of “…a 3 legged dog is still a dog” in defence of them carrying on. However a leg is not a vital organ. They made some great songs after Berry left… Daysleeper is perfect. I remember Nigel mixed this while we were recording The Man Who and hearing it coming through the desk was WOW!


I wrote this post while listening to “Green

Here is a song from Green from their Live Movie, Tourfilm.

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22 Responses to “Green by R.E.M. “Athens Finest””

  1. […] R.E.M. Od strane milos_dimitrijevic 1 Komentar Kategorije: DRUGI BENDOVI Update (22.01.2010): Fran je danas pisao o R.E.M. na svom blogu. „When I was 16, my english teacher, Jack McLaughlin, a great great teacher so passionate about poetry and prose, walked into a chattering classroom of teenagers and without warning, slammed his hand down on his desk β€œBANG!!” The ensuing silence was broken by his voice. β€œR.E.M. are the greatest rock band in the world. Here began the longest love affair I ever had with a band.” Nastavak ovde. […]

  2. sammy says:

    R.E.M’s Automatic For The People was the soundtrack to my 90’s, when I was a student nurse. It was perfect. Still is. Everytime I hear it I’m thrown back to those nurses quarters, studying hard, but having a LITTLE fun! I know just what you mean about Michael Stipe’s voice, it’s unique. I love how some albums can transport you back like this.

  3. Jay Parker says:

    Great band. Everybody Hurts is one of my all time favourites.

  4. Patrick Mc Kenna says:

    Top class, they once competed against u2 for greatest band in the world in the early nineties. they still make good albums. i think they are due another monster though. Anyway that green album is great. rumour has it stand was a major influence behind blurs theres no other way, similar chord pattern


  5. Trixi says:

    whoah creepy…I was about that age, too when I discovered R.E.M. (maybe a bit younger 13,14)and they’re still the band that had the most influence on me until today (right after Travis of course!) The soundtrack of my early youth…Turn you inside out from the TOURFILM – their best live video EVER! Used to listen it up and down then. GOOD taste, Fran! *thumbs-up* (as same as Billy Bragg btw.) πŸ˜›

  6. Ben says:

    I love R.E.M. I actually got Green for Christmas! I never knew you were such a fan Fran!

  7. dale says:

    one of the best bands on the planet…still.

  8. maurice says:

    nice review fran. R.E.M. is (beside travis) my favourite band. I have all of their records and I saw them live two times. they are a great live band with lots of energy and I love bucks jingle-jangle guitar…

  9. Melanie says:

    I’m wondering whatever happened to the posters of them I had hanging up in my room when I was in high school. Always loved them and was lucky enough to see them live. I’ll never forget the day after walking into school, still in utter awe of the show. I ran into a friend who had also been at the show (but we hadn’t seen each other) and we didn’t say anything, we just hugged.

    I had forgotten about that memory…thank you for bringing it up.

  10. Karla G. says:

    I love R.E.M.! Having grown up not too far from Athens, Georgia, I feel a special kinship to them and still haven’t seen them play but someday hope to. They are on my short list of bands to see before I die. I’ll never really see the R.E.M. of my childhood play (as you said, it’s not the same), but they are one musical act (besides Travis) that I would go great lengths to see.

  11. Juli says:

    I really like REM. I was able to see them in 2008 in Argentina (if only Travis had also been part of that festival!), and they sound amazing live! Some tv show aired some parts of the gig a few days later and my dad became a fan (I never thought he’d like them, his taste in music is completely different). He’s quite fond of Michael Stipe, haha.

  12. Milos says:

    I just wanted explain the first comment, in case anyone is wondering what is that all about! πŸ˜€ I posted an excerpt of what Fran wrote about R.E.M. on my Travis website in serbian and then linked to this page so anyone can read the rest, but for some reason the link to my own article and what i quoted showed up here in comments. Not sure why. πŸ˜€ Anyway, just wanted to explain this.

  13. Felix says:

    Green’s the best piece of art R.E.M. ever did. I got it as a birthday present and although I pretty much was into R.E.M. then, I didn’t know they can be THAT good! World Leader Pretend is just a perfectly mind-blowing song… always gives me the creeps and live it is even better with Stipe’s chair “choreography”.

  14. HMarney says:

    Athens, GA has a way of breeding great bands, like all good university towns. But Bill Berry and Mike Mills did grow up in Macon, GA so they did have that music scene and town environment influence.
    I think everyone remembers the first song you heard by them. No one sounds like R.E.M and no one every will. But R.E.M. has endorsed another Athens band, Modern Skirts. Check them out, they are just getting started in how awesome they can be. Nice guys too.

  15. Dougwho says:

    Deasr Fran:

    I remember when you told us when your teacher said: R.E.M. is the greates band in the world. And you said that on november 16th,2008, in a south american country called Venezuela. I was on the front line singing every single song, shouting, expressing all my love to the band and experimenting a surrealist sensation: Travis in my home country, Venezuela, I cant beleive it.

    It was one of the most pleasure musical sensations i ever had: seeing one`s of my favourites band, Travis.

    I hope you come as soon as possible to Venezuela, we will be waiting for you guys

    Your sincerely

    Douglas Lozada

  16. elham says:

    the best…

  17. Patrick says:

    β€œR.E.M. are the greatest rock band in the world.”
    Your teacher was damn right!!!
    I saw R.E.M. 12 times in 2008, they are so awesome live.

  18. hugo says:

    something quite similar happened to me, but instead of REM it was Travis. Im from Mexico and the english teachers at my school used to be either American or from the UK (in order to learn the language a little bit easier and better too). It was 2000, we had this English Literature teacher from Scotland, really cool guy; I cant remember exactly what was the class about that day but he brought a recorder and a CD. He started playing, Don’t Look Back in Anger,

  19. hugo says:

    …and some other britpop songs, then it was turn of Driftwood, he stopped there and started asking us what kind of feeling the song was try to transmit from our point of view, etc,etc. Eventually he just started talking about Travis, how much he liked them and how good they were live. At the time i already was a big Oasis fan, and i thought Travis were just OK, the only thing i knew about the band was “the guy wearing the kilt on a video” or something like that. Well, my teacher really convinced me about listening to them and that they will become one of my favorite bands. He was right.

  20. joss says:

    I don’t like R.E.M. so much, they are so american and lead singer doesn’t look simpatic…this is my opinion.)

  21. Baz says:

    R.E.M. are one of my favourite bands!!! Your English teacher sounded like a cool dude! What would be your top 3 R.E.M. songs?

  22. meg says:

    Green was the first REM album I owned… Actually it was on cassette.

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