Thirty Years of Music

There’s something pretty cool about (most of) the response to R.E.M. breaking up. I’m not referring to the people who are saying, “Who’s that?” or “About time,” of course, but rather the number of responses talking about why the band meant so much to them, and their favorite songs. (My friend Chris Butcher has a nice write-up of why he loved R.E.M., for example.)

But here’s the thing that I find the coolest, at least for me. Every time someone has said, “And here’s my favorite song,” I’ve started nodding along… and then realized that once again, no one among my friends appears to be picking a duplicate. I guess when you’ve got 15 full length albums (plus EPs, soundtrack contributions, and bonus tracks for compilations) it’s easy to hit that.

I won’t pretend I’ve got anything deep to write about the band—I first started paying attention to them in the mid-80s thanks to a co-worker at Giant Food, plus my friend Kira in high school—but I too have loved a lot of their music and thought I’d pick three favorite songs; one from the ’80s, one from the ’90s, and one from the ’00s. (I’ll be nice and include 2011’s Collapse into Now into that final grouping.) I tried to pick non-singles as well, if only because they’re great songs that you may not have heard.

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Operation: Read ‘Em All

A couple of years ago, I seriously cut back on my book buying; I started using the Arlington Library much more often, shifting what I bought to books I felt I’d actually re-read, or ones that just were not available at the library. (A lot of limited edition comics and art books, for instance.)

And then, of course, two years ago I got an e-reader and the number of physical books entering my home shrunk again. But all of this did nothing to change the number of unread books that I have owned, waiting for that day where they got tackled. So once we moved, I created one or two bookshelves with nothing but unread books, and now I’m going to try and make my way through them. The majority of them are ones that once read I’ll be giving away, so there’s added incentive to get moving through them.

(More importantly, having them all in one location makes it easier for me to hear their siren call, “Read me, Greg, read me.”)

So far I’ve finished off one book (Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni) and am almost halfway through a second one (DC Noir edited by George Pelecanos). Loved the first one, and am enjoying the second one. Now, I don’t see myself blasting through the multiple “to-read” shelves anytime soon, but it is gratifying to finally start tackling them. But heck, I’ve had that copy of Twinkle Twinkle for eight years now. It was time to finally cross it off the list. Between that and finally watching my copy of The Prestige from Netflix (which sat on my coffee table for several years, waiting)… well, I might make it 2010’s books by the end of the decade. Such progress!

My one consolation, of course, is that I bet at least half of the people reading this have similarly groaning to-read shelves… possibly more. Admit it.