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