Sgwarnog: In the Field

By sgwarnog

Life's Rich Pageant

I wasn't with R.E.M. from the beginning, but thanks to the transformative power of university life, I was with them by Life's Rich Pageant.

It says something, that I can remember July 30 1985 as the day that I didn't go to see R.E.M and U2 at Milton Keynes, as instead I was travelling with a coach load of uni friends to see the Deep Purple reunion at Knebworth. At service stations on the M6 and M1, the two tribes of music fans crossed paths, but didn't intermingle too much.

Two years later, after finals, when my musical taste had made a bit of an alternative turn (thanks more to Andy Kershaw than John Peel), a group of us got in a friend's car and drove us out to Ingleton (it's likely that @neilheyes was in the car too), and Chris, the driver, put Life's Rich Pageant on the tapedeck. It was on that journey that I 'got' R.E.M., and I've been with them ever since.

I only got to see them once, at Nottingham, on the Green Tour, in 1989 (set list here). The standout memory from that was the cover of Summertime.

Like most, my favourite albums are the first four, and today's image captures something of that era. It's a t-shirt that I picked up in Athens, Georgia, where my sister was kind enough to drive me on a pilgrimage when I was visiting her in Atlanta (summer 1992). It's a homage to the Athens bands and venues of the 1980s - mostly obscure names, but The B 52s and R.E.M will stand out for most people. I don't have too many twenty year old t-shirts, but this has moved into the "cherished object" category.

The band may be no more, for the moment, but there will always be the music. And if this entry reveals nothing else, it shows the power of music to stimulate memory and autobiography.

No. 1 in an occasional series that may ultimately build up into "100 @sgwarnog Objects."

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