Last modified: July 1, 1997
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===================================================================== R.E.M. - Usenet rec.music.rem FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST Revised 1 July 1997 Maintained by Ron Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org) ===================================================================== Contents: Part 1. About The Newsgroup, and How to Get its Documents Part 2. Some Very Basic Information About The Band Part 3. The FAQ Proper: Questions That You Don't Need to Ask A. General Questions B. Album Covers, Liner Notes, and Other Packaging Questions C. Those Darn Lyrics; and Other Music Questions D. Questions on R.E.M.'s Live Performaces Part 4. Where To Get More Information about R.E.M. (Books) Part 5. R.E.M. on Video Part 6. Resources Available on the Internet Part 7. A Primer on R.E.M. Bootlegs/Live tapes Part 8. FAQ Index by Subject Acknowledgments --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Part 1. About The Newsgroup, and How to Get its Documents An R.E.M. Internet e-mail list first began in Feb. 1990 as a part of Project Athena at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In July of 1993, it moved to Lynchburg College in Virginia; then, due to the ever-increasing volume of Internet interest in the band, and the resulting unmanagability of the volume of postings to the list, the Murmur list was discontinued and replaced by a Usenet newsgroup. On March 28, 1994, "rec.music.rem" was created, after winning a landslide voter approval (789 to 241). Consequently, the MURMUR e-mail list is no longer available. However, the most recently updated version of the full FAQ can be obtained by: * WWW browser to http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8789/remfaq.htm; or * emailing me, Ron Henry, to request it (text version only); or * when it is occasionally posted to Usenet newsgroups rec.music.rem, rec.answers, and news.answers. Lyrics to all of R.E.M.'s albums can be gotten via the Web at Kipp's Retroweb page, http://www.retroweb.com/remlyrics.html (Note: Kipp's files are the consensus lyrics worked out by members of the Murmur mailing list and rec.music.rem over the years. You may not agree with all of them, but keep in mind that many people have worked very hard to make them as accurate as is humanly possible, so do give them the benefit of the doubt. (I also maintain an alternate set of lyrics files here which you may or may not care about.) For those wondering about specific references in the lyrics, Chris Piuma has compiled the R.E.M. Lyrics Annotations FAQ at http://www.brainlink.com/~cafard/remlafaq.html. Several specialized supplements to the regular FAQ document have been prepared (email me for copies if interested): * Collected posts and responses to Michael Stipe's on-line sessions August 1995; * The "Real People in R.E.M. Songs" list, compiled by Gary Nabors, author of the book Remnants; * List of REM videos with directors and brief descriptions; * Multi-part index to Gray's R.E.M. reference book It Crawled from the South (1st ed., 1993), compiled by Cindy Donlin; * The Band Members' Illness FAQ, which summarizes Bill Berry, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe's surgeries during the World Tour 95; * "Lame Postings to the Newsgroup and How to Cope" article to help readers face the insanity that is Usenet; * Mini-FAQ of information about the album New Adventures in Hi-Fi; * Transcript of Michael Stipe on the AOL Webstock forum; * R.E.M. Monster World Tour FAQ; * R.E.M. Monster World Tour Setlists statistics, compiled by Martin Hoyt; To comment on or make a suggestion for the FAQ-lists, send email to me (email@example.com). Enjoy rec.music.rem! --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Part 2. Some Very Basic Information About The Band R.E.M. The actual band members are Bill Berry (percussion, backing vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass, keyboards, and vocals) and Michael Stipe (vocals). Other folks of note are Bertis Downs IV (the band's lawyer), and Scott Litt (producer of their albums since Document). Prior to 1996 the band's manager was Jefferson Holt. Albums to date: * Chronic Town (EP), 1982 * Murmur, 1983 * Reckoning, 1984 * Fables of the Reconstruction..., 1985 * Lifes Rich Pageant, 1986 * Document, 1987 * Green, 1988 * Out Of Time, 1991 * Automatic For The People, 1992 * Monster, 1994 * New Adventures in Hi-Fi, 1996 Compilations: * Dead Letter Office, 1987 (B-sides and Chronic Town reissue) * Eponymous, 1988 (I.R.S. Greatest Hits) * The Best of R.E.M. 1991 (European Greatest Hits) In addition, European reissues of albums through Document, which include bonus live and b-side tracks, have appeared from I.R.S. See the Discography for a more complete description of all the official releases. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Part 3. The FAQ Proper A. GENERAL QUESTIONS o A1. "How do I join the fan club? Is it worth it?" Write to: R.E.M., PO Box 8032, Athens, GA 30603. The yearly cost is US$10; $12 if joining from overseas. You will have to renew every year. For joining, you get a few postcards/newsletters, some random promo stuff when a new record comes out (usually a poster, some buttons, photos, things of that nature) and a holiday package containing the ever-famous Christmas collector's edition fan club single, and possibly other goodies like a calendar. Only you can decide if this is a good deal -- but bear in mind that such collectables generally increase in value over time, especially the fan club singles. o A2. "What does the 'J' in J. M. Stipe stand for?" John. Nobody knows why he dropped the name but still uses the initial. Much biographical information on the band members' full names, birthdays, home towns, childhood, and educational backgrounds is covered in detail in the book It Crawled from the South by Marcus Gray. o A3. "Are there any R.E.M. fan newsletters I can subscribe to?" Here is a quick list of a few recently-published R.E.M. fanzines, in no particular order (fanzines tend to come and go, so it's a good idea to check if it still publishing before sending money): * 394 Oconee, c/o Pattie Klienke, P.O. Box 304, Union City, NJ. 07087-9998; (Single issue: US $3, UK & Europe $5 US) * Country Feedback, RR1 North Road, Jefferson, NH 03583; (Single issue: US $3, UK & Europe 5 US dollars; payable to Country Feedback) * Chronic Town, 27 Oriel Drive, Old Road, Liverpool, L10 3JL, England; (Single issue: UK 2 pounds, Europe 2.50 pounds, Australia 3 pounds, US 5 pounds (no US checks!)) * Murmur, c/o Stephen Rennicks, Church Rd, Ardbraccan, Navan, Co.Meath, Ireland; (Single issue: UK 1.80 pounds, US 6 pounds; payable to Stephen Rennicks) o A4. "Doesn't R.E.M. stand for 'rapid eye movement'?" In the scientific field of sleep research, the acronym r.e.m. indeed stands for "rapid eye movement," and refers to the stage of sleep in which, among other things, dreaming occurs. But, in the case of the band, no, it doesn't. The story related by Peter Buck on the band's early 1983 Late Night with David Letterman appearance is that they picked it out of the dictionary (not all dictionaries include scientific terms like "r.e.m.," so don't be disappointed if you don't find it) and they liked it because it was so ambiguous. From It Crawled from the South: "'We sat up one night,' says Michael, 'and we just got completely drunk and rolled around the floor. We had all this chalk, and we took every name anyone could think of and we wrote it on the wall in the living room. When morning rolled around, we pointed and erased, and it was between R.E.M. and Negro Eyes, and we thought *that* probably wouldn't go over too well outside our immediate circle of friends!'" (p. 24). o A5. "I think that Fables of the Reconstruction sucks/rules!" or "I think ["Stand," "Shiny Happy People", etc.] is terrible/great!" or "I hate/love [Monster, Out of Time, Murmur, etc.]!!!!!" "Fables rules/sucks" is an old, tired flame war from the mailing list days. Remember, some people are going to hate a particular work, while other people will love it, and still others remain indifferent. It's a good example of a non-topic that dragged on and on and never really did anything but piss people off. Frankly, any simplistic opinion about a song, album or video that does not elaborate in support of its stated opinion wastes group readers' collective time and bandwidth, and should be discouraged (in other words, should not be replied to by other group members!) Mindless knee-jerk proclamations serve only to start tiresome battles that annoy everyone. o A6. "Do R.E.M. members ever read the newsgroup, and do they have email addresses? I want to send them a message if they have an email address!" During August 1994, Michael Stipe posted comments, and answered fans' questions, via an America On Line account "firstname.lastname@example.org". After much confusion and controversy regarding the authenticity of these postings, his identity was confirmed by news reports and third party sources. For those interested, the complete text of Stipe's net postings, which have been annotated with the actual questions asked by fans, is available (send a request to me, email@example.com). Also, Bill and Mari Berry have posted from a Prodigy account, and Peter Buck appeared on an on-line Q & A session on AOL. In late 1995 Stipe posted the lyrics to "Tongue" directly to rec.music.rem using the AOL account, wished Happy Holidays to the group, responded sarcastically to a post commenting on his sexuality, and thanked a poster for defending the band from an accusation that the band had sold out. Most recently, Stipe was on-line again in Nov. 1996 on the AOL Webstock forum. To the more brazen among us: Stipe has also said he deletes all email sent to his AOL account due to the excessive volume, so don't bother trying to send him a message there -- he won't see it! o A7. "Someone told me that R.E.M. is going to break up on New Year's Eve, 1999. Is that true?" Peter Buck said this as an off-the-cuff joke during an interview (mainly in connection with it being a great excuse for a huge party), but they have all repeatedly said since then that as long as they feel R.E.M. is making good music, they will continue to work together -- whether that doesn't last until 1999, or goes beyond. Note that magazine writers who can't think of anything else to say about the band will often trot this factoid out and compel the band to comment on it. o A8. "A friend told me that Michael Stipe is HIV positive! Is this true? Has anyone else heard this?" Uh, yeah, we heard. In fact, every few months or so a new contributor decides to share this so-called "fact" with us. There is absolutely nothing to substantiate such a rumor and questions and comments stating that Stipe is HIV+ are considered by some newsgroup readers to be in poor taste, and insensitive to the feelings of newsgroup readers who are struggling with the disease. In some recent interviews Stipe has mentioned how upsetting and cruel he found this rumor to be, that he is naturally very thin, and that he feels he is now in the best shape of his life. o A9. "Who are/were the Hindu Love Gods?" R.E.M. (without Michael Stipe) collaborated on a side project with the singer Warren Zevon. (Note that the lineup also played on Zevon's own album Sentimental Hygiene.) The HLG album includes covers of many blues standards as well as Prince's "Raspberry Beret." Opinions about the project vary greatly: some saw it as a mediocre knock-off of some blues standards that should not have been released, others as a fun romp for the instrumental 3/4 of R.E.M. o A10. "Where does the title 'Automatic for the People' come from?" The band borrowed this slogan from a sign in Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods, a popular home-cooking restaurant in Athens, Ga., which, incidentally, sells T-shirts, hats, and other such merchandise featuring the slogan (address 1016 E. Broad St., Athens GA, 30601). The phrase means that people at the restaurant "automatically" get what they want (as in: "Do I get fried potatoes with my chicken?"; "Automatic!"). o A11. "So, what's the story with those funky suits Mike Mills wore during the Monster World Tour?" Actually, the outfits Mike was wearing are known as "Nudie" suits, after the late tailor Nudie who designed many such outfits for country stars of the 1960's/70's. Nudie suits became hip with the rock crowd through their being worn by the band that's been credited with initiating the music called country-rock, the Flying Burrito Brothers (including the legendary Gram Parsons.) It's been mentioned in an interview with the band that the one Mike wears in the "Kenneth" video was in fact once owned by Parsons. o A12. "There's this kind of wacky song whose lyrics talk about all the songs on Reckoning and about the guys in R.E.M. -- what is that?" The band Pavement recorded a song for the compilation CD No Alternative called, "The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence," which is a tribute of sorts to R.E.M., their album Reckoning, and the defense of Atlanta against General Sherman's march to the sea in the Civil War. o A13. "Is Peter Buck related to Rob Buck of the 10,000 Maniacs?" No. There was, however, an amusing story in Musician magazine about Peter getting drunk one night of the Work Tour (during which the Maniacs opened); when he stumbled back to his hotel and found a room assigned to "Buck," he got into the bed Rob Buck was already occupying. o A14. "Who is that woman prominent in both the 'One I Love' and 'Pop Song 89' videos?" An old friend of Stipe's named Caroline. According to Marcus Gray, "Auctioneer (Another Engine)" was written with her in mind, and Stipe used to tell anecdotes about her (and her tatoos) between songs during the Reconstruction Tour. Gray does not provide her last name, probably to protect her privacy. o A15. "What is the tattoo under Michael Stipe's right upper arm that was visible on the 1995 Letterman show appearance?" It is a tattoo of Ignatz Mouse and Krazy Kat, who are the main characters in the comic "Krazy Kat" by George Herriman, drawn from the 1920s-1940s. If you don't know who/what these are, and like interesting comics, make a beeline to a library or good bookstore and find a compilation of old Krazy Kats. They are a incredible mix of quite hilarious and totally surreal (reality-bending) material. Berke Breathed's "Outland" (and parts of "Bloom County" before it) are the closest contemporary comparison to the style and attitude. There's a web page at http://www.krazy.com/coconino.htm which explains the comic better than I have -- I suggest surfing over there if you're interested. o A16. "Did Michael Stipe work on a project with Kurt Cobain before Cobain's death?" While many people would have looked forward to such a project and have hoped something had been accomplished before the Nirvana singer's untimely suicide, according to Stipe they had only traded correspondance about such a project and nothing was composed or recorded. One of the ironic tragedies of Cobain's final months was his expression of admiration for the way R.E.M. had handled their superstardom, though, as Stipe pointed out, they were lucky it took years for them to reach the point and learn to adapt to the strain of the media spotlight. o A17. "I have seen Mike Mills' name recently as an artist and as member of other bands besides R.E.M." The Mike Mills in Butter 08 is not Michael Edward Mills from R.E.M., but a graphic artist who has done work with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and They Might Be Giants. According to rec.music.rem reader <sujan> he does not remotely look like the Mike Mills in R.E.M., for whatever that's worth. Note that Butter 08 is: Russell Simins of JSBX, Rick Lee of Skeleton Key, Miho and Yuka from Cibo Matto and Mike Mills, graphic artist. o A18. "Who is Patti Smith, who sings on 'E-bow' and is in the video for that song?" The background singer on the song "E-bow the Letter", Patti Smith, is an important figure from the late 70's punk/new wave scene in New York whose albums (especially Horses and Easter) are considered by many people essential milestones in the development of American rock music. She has also published several books of Beat-influenced poetry over the years. Her influence on the members of R.E.M., especially Michael Stipe and Peter Buck, has long been noted in interviews with the band. o A19. "Why isn't long-time manager Jefferson Holt mentioned in the New Adventures in Hi-Fi credits?" A recent press release from the band announced that Holt had left his position of manager. No further details about the split were confirmed by R.E.M./Athens Ltd., and much speculation on why and what happened remains rumor. In fact it has been reported that one of the terms of the dissolution is that none of the parties make public comment, so don't expect any further details. o A20. "Is the song 'The Wake Up Bomb' about the band Oasis?" Not according to R.E.M. Peter Buck said in an interview in 1995 that Stipe wrote the lyrics about the Glam Rock period of the 1970's (characterized by bands like T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, the NY Dolls, and David Bowie) after visiting a club in NY with a Glam Rock theme decor, and that the supposed Oasis references are being read into the song and not intended. [Continued in Part 2 of 3] -- Ron Henry / firstname.lastname@example.org Official Rec.Music.Rem FAQ at http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8789/remfaq.htm "I never thought of this as funny."