Chronic Town: 25 Years

August 24th, 2007

This awesome 5-song EP came out on this day 25 years ago. It was the R.E.M. record I ever heard and it didn’t take me long to get hooked. I still like it as well as anything else the band has ever recorded.

I had the good fortune to be in Atlanta just after this record came out, having just started school at the North Avenue Trade School. One night that autumn, I went with some of my friends to see R.E.M. play at the cozy little Agora Ballroom; it wasn’t a crowded house, and we were able to stand right down front. I didn’t know much about the band, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show. My friends, who had all been at school for a year, were well acquainted with R.E.M.’s repertoire, and were calling out for their favorite songs. It was a memorable evening, and as fate would have it, it was the only time I would ever see R.E.M. perform.

(The next year, I would transfer to a better school, where “better” means more pretty girls than you can possibly comprehend. That made it hard to see R.E.M. so easily, although I did manage to see Echo and the Bunnymen and Guadalcanal Diary.)

Michael Stipe used to say that “Gardening at Night” was R.E.M.’s best song ever. They’ve recorded a lot of music since he made that statement, but I’d bet that song is still at the top of Stipe’s list.

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