R.E.M. – E-Bow the Letter

Hey readers: have you ever noticed that you’re a worthless person who makes the world a worse place who should withdraw from everyone you know until they forget about you so that you can disappear without hurting anyone? No? No worries, I really meant me instead of you. That’s why, this Friday I’m staying in to drink wine and obsessively read the “This Is Thin Privilege” Tumblr. Because that’ll somehow make things better until I drink myself to sleep early enough that I can go to my half-job at noon. Yes, I’m a real “weiner” at life!

So let’s talk about some R.E.M. singles while I huddle in my drafty apartment inflating heating bills I can’t afford in the first place. Yes yes, dead people selling their death products to the barely living, very good.

EBTL is a wonderful artistic whatsit that I don’t understand with Patty Smith singing the chorus and (no surprise) an E-Bow doing a part of the instrument thingy. It’s a wonderful, although an absolutely silly choice of lead single (what’re they making with it? piping?) that probably sold about six copies. Of course, for being about something inscrutable (but not early R.E.M.-ly so) it’s no “Nightswimming” or other artsy R.E.M. song where I know what they hell Stipey’s going on about, but still, dat E-Bow, and aluminum tasting like fear, apparently!

The B-sides are…well, “Tricycle” is the standard R.E.M. surf-rock goof-off, though I CAN imagine it being the soundtrack to a little boy riding his tricycle for the first time – I can see it playing behind the old SNES game “Earthbound.” Then “Departure” is here in a new, even more live form, and it’s far worse. See, it already was recorded at a soundcheck, so having it recorded at another soundcheck with louder cheesy keyboard noises and Stipe interchorus yelps doesn’t help anything. But then! The Richard Thompson cover “Wall Of Death” is stirring and catchy and charming, and totally makes life (by which I mean this single) worthwhile.

Also, “thin privilege is not being hit, punched, and kicked at a music festival because you’re taking up more room than smaller people think you’re entitled to.”

I can’t in good conscience throw this one more than a 7, but mm, “Wall Of Death” makes me want to go to whatever carnival thing hell he’s singing about. Also, there’s some neat-o black-and-white pictures of desolate rural roads and the band in a diner. Zounds.

7/10

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