R.E.M. – Strange Currencies

It’s about time that SC got released as a single, seeing as it’s the best song on its parent album. Sure, it’s a blatant ripoff of “Everybody Hurts,” but to my ears it’s a better version of “Everybody Hurts,” because “Everybody Hurts” is a dated attempt to make high schoolers feel better about their stupid hormones. I’m pretty out of touch with being inspired by either stalker anthems or songs for socially awkward teens these days, but doesn’t it sound quaint the way they say “telephone” as if they just bought their first cell phones because it was 1994? Yes, it does. Disagreement is not to be tolerated in these hallowed halls of diversity.

This is the fourth in a series of CD singles featuring songs recorded in Athens, GA for Greenpeace (TM), and the last, and oddly enough these songs, the closers of said Greenpeace show, are like totally the best of the bunch. Mostly because they get their hands off their puds and (aside from the drummer still playing at one beat per arthritic shudder) actually respectably rock. “Drive” as an electric-guitar driven funtime? Good idea! Iggy Pop’s “Funtime” at a speed befitting a guitarist who would soon be charged with assaulting an air stewardess for not serving him enough booze? Good idea! “Radio Free Europe” with some ad-libs that don’t matter because back in the day R.E.M. lyrics meant less than Pixies lyrics? Good idea!

It adds up to a single that I’d recommend to a casual fan, not only a serious fan, which doesn’t matter because nobody will ever hear it again ever. And I don’t know about Greenpeace. I used to give them money when I was twenty, but now that I’m older a few of their stances appear to be cynical ploys to exploit well-meaning but poorly read environmentalists. Nuclear power? A tiny (like, really tiny) chance of a serious problem versus a certainty of worsening fossil fuel usage seems like an environmentally sound idea to me. But they gin up fear by citing outdated studies and fear of radiation. And being against the seal hunt? I’ve been a vegetarian for a decade and yet population culls seem like the absolute least of our worries. But they can’t be anything other than nominally against factory farming because the majority of their donor base eat meat, so let’s ignore it and instead focus on an issue that allows people to feel self-righteous! And being against GMOs? Don’t get me started until another review, because that’s a whole five paragraph essay waiting to happen.

In conclusion, Greenpeace, you do more good than harm and I guardedly like you but you NEVER SENT ME THE SHIRT YOU SAID YOU’D SEND ME IF I DONATED ELEVEN DOLLARS A MONTH AND I TRUSTED YOU.

8 / 10


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