This is a hazy moment in my life. I can’t see clearly, the air stinks like Pulau Bukom and Kalimantan burning together, and I can’t locate the hotspots giving off all this smoke, let alone put them out. And then R.E.M. disbands. I go through their discography in this haze, music that I knew pre-haze, and continue to learn about. A darker, edgier fan favourite (“Star Me Kitten”? Or “How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us”?) accompanied me as I brooded, but somehow this complacently shiny happy ditty shone through into my consciousness. It reminded me of how I used to be wide-eyed, earnest (“kick me” fastened on your sleeve) and carefree, how I would have gone the full distance to Reno on a whim.
Michael Moore shot the music video for this song in a Brooklyn high school, recalling the band’s halcyon days as they made a name for themselves on the college radio scene. The scenes of Buck, Mills and Stipe frolicking in a sea of earnest and excited young faces without a care in the world, lifted the gloom over me and made me feel hopeful. Surely I could be in that crowd too, breaking the rules, singing along to the ringing guitars and rallying chorus because I know what I’m gonna be. Struggle, self-doubt, ennui, the inevitable break-up of a great band – all part of this life’s rich pageant, and I must go through it writing my own directions and whistling the winds of change. – Eugene.
This marks the end of our R.E.M. special. It’s been great fun!