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“Turn You Inside Out”

Posted by purplemary54 on November 6, 2012

R.E.M released Green on election day 1988 (George Bush the First vs. Michael Dukakis).  That was the first election I voted in.  I won’t remind you to vote, because I’m just going to assume you already have.  And if you haven’t, shame on you.  Democracy only works if everyone plays along.  So if your one of the idiots who doesn’t vote, thanks a bunch!  You’re the reason the system is currently broken.  You’ve also lost the right to complain if you don’t like the way things are going.  Sucks to be you, huh.

Green was the first R.E.M album I ever bought, but I needed some convincing.  “Turn You Inside Out” is the song that convinced me.

I hadn’t liked R.E.M much up to this point.  I was still pretty young, and hadn’t yet developed my high tolerance for ambiguity.  And R.E.M were nothing if not ambiguous.  They were hardcore arty and obscure.  I still don’t understand what half of their early songs mean (or the lyrics, but I’ve grown to like it that way).  Of course, it didn’t hurt/help that they were the definitive college radio band: they put college radio on the mainstream cultural map.  (Seriously, R.E.M is probably a huge part of the reason that Billboard now has a separate College Radio chart.)  They were, simply put, weird.  And since I was still in my “The 60s and 70s were the only music that really Mattered” phase, R.E.M were too weird for me.

I’m so glad I gave it some time and learned to love them.  This video was the first time I’d ever seen them with instruments in their hands, working together as a band.  It flipped the switch in my head.  Suddenly, I got why they were popular.  This is what they did, and they did it really, really well.  It didn’t hurt that this song was so awesome.  But Michael Stipe dancing spastically around while Peter Buck, Bill Berry, and Mike Mills coolly play behind him brought them to life in a way all their other videos couldn’t.  I didn’t need any artistic imagery (although they tossed some in with the fish at the end), or clever visual ploys.  I just needed to see a rock band rocking.  (And am I the only one that thinks Mills is the hottest nerdy rock god ever?)

So this was my indoctrination to the cult of R.E.M.  I got to see them once, on the tour that had to be postponed because of Bill Berry’s aneurism.  They rocked even harder live.

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