30 Years Ago: R.E.M.

30 years ago today in an abandoned church on Oconee St. in Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. performed together publicly for the first time. They played that show, a birthday party for their friend K.O., under the name Twisted Kites.

I was fortunate to not only live in Athens, GA. in the mid-late 1980s but also to be a DJ at WUOG. Back then (and probably today as well), Athens was a regular destination for many up and coming bands. I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers several times (even had dinner with Anthony and Flea once before their show), Los Lobos, the Psychedelic Furs, Love and Rockets, In Living Color… I could go on and on. During that period, I attended many great shows, including several by R.E.M.

I also had the pleasure, because of my radio job, of  conducting interviews with many of the bands who regularly played in Athens. Understandably, I wanted a chance to speak with members of R.E.M. on the air as well–almost everyone who worked for the station did. I happened to host the local music show, Sound of the City, and had the idea of asking Peter Buck (I ran into him at the 40 Watt Club) if he would be interested in being a guest DJ on my show. He agreed and delighted me even more by bringing R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills along for the ride. Unfortunately, I do not have a recording of that show, and some of it is a blur, but one of the things I do remember was asking Buck and Mills which R.E.M. song was their favorite, and at that time, Mike’s answer was Perfect Circle.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to be a guest DJ on one of the radio stations here in San Diego. For an hour, I was allowed to play whatever I wanted. I decided to create a playlist based on songs, artists and bands that related to the time I spent in Athens—and R.E.M. topped my list. While on-air, I commented that when I hear R.E.M. I feel like I am at home. And it is true, I do. As soon as I hear the first notes of an R.E.M. song, I am transported back to a place that I love and a time I will always remember and cherish. Is there an artist or band that makes you feel that way?

UPDATED 8/21/15

Sometimes, when you put something out into the universe (or post it online on your blog) a wonderful thing can happen.

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Click here to hear the show. Click here to read the rest of R.E.M.’s Facebook post.

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3 responses

  1. great post jennifer. can’t believe its been 30 years. I still enjoy the Chronic Town EP as much as anything REM has ever put out. do you or did you happen to own their original 45 with Sitting Still and Radio Free Europe? I’ve got a friend that still has it. if you don’t already have or know about it, you need to find ‘Athens Inside Out’ on DVD. It came out on VHS in about 1983 or so and had a soundtrack type album. But recently its become available on DVD. What an outstanding time capsule experience it is. I highly recommend buying it.

    also its cool that you wrote about this now as we are heading to Athens tomorrow for the annual G-Day spring football game and as has been our tradition these past 10+ years, we’ll stay overnight and enjoy the downtown Athens scene. Always hard to leave on Sunday!

  2. Paige, I don’t own that 45–wish I did. But yes, Chronic Town has held up very well!

    I was in Athens during the filming of Athens Ga./Inside Out and attended a couple of the out of state shows they did in support of the movie. Will never forget seeing the Bar-B-Q Killers and Time Toy in Washington D.C. at the 9:30 club. Pretty sure that was in 1987. There is a Athens Ga./Inside Out fan page on Facebook if you are interested.

    Have fun at the G-Day game!! I can’t wait for football season to start!

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