I don’t really have time to sit and watch television like I used to (prior to having a child), but when I do I make a concerted effort to choose my shows wisely. Unfortunately, by the time I get to sit down I am left to choose between shows that feature teams sticking their heads in barrels of live maggots or yet another infomercial for the all-in-one Ronco Food Dehydrator, Yogurt Maker and Beef Jerky Machine. So when I heard that an extremely rare musical event was going to take place on Saturday night I wondered why I couldn’t find it on any of the hundreds of channels offered via satellite.
The event reunited the four original members of the (super hot) band R.E.M. for a special induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. For those of you unfamiliar with the group (is there anyone who doesn’t know this band), which was formed in Athens, Georgia in 1980, it is made up of front man Michael Stipe, drummer Bill Berry, Mike Mills and Peter Buck. Together they have won three Grammys and sold more than 70 million records. (Their 1986 album “Life’s Rich Pageant” is one of my favorites.)
However, R.E.M. has only performed as a quartet a handful of times since 1997, when drummer Bill Berry left the group after suffering a brain aneurysm onstage in 1995–all the more reason to televise Saturday’s performance to those of us who were not invited to the black-tie induction ceremony.
The director of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame told local reporters that the event sold out in a matter of minutes and the group’s reunion had been the buzz around town for weeks. “R.E.M. is one of the most influential bands in the world,” said event organizers.
I should note that Stipe, Buck and Mills have continued to tour and record without Berry, but the sound is simply not the same. So, why didn’t the rest of us get to see this rare performance on TV? Probably because they plan to sell it as a DVD… actually, that’s just a guess. I’m sure the real reason has to do with money. Regardless, I am sorry I didn’t get to share in the experience. My true dream—for the band to play at one of my birthdays and for Stipe to serenade me with “Nightswimming.”
By the way, R.E.M. now joins the ranks of other members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, including Ray Charles, Little Richard, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood and the Indigo Girls.