Outtakes 2: R.E.M.

The book was going to include a chapter on R.E.M. adapted from a column I wrote some years ago about the song “Driver 8” from the band’s 1985 album Fables of the Reconstruction. The point was to discuss how a song’s context can change over time, a point made by Stipe himself in his introduction of the song three nights before Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 (see YouTube clip below). I still find what he said remarkable–“This is a song that represents great hope and great promise, a song that represents the dream of the United States of America and what it may become in the next three days”–and remarkable still for its application to “Driver 8.” Which, I should mention, is a song I dearly love.

Even though it included connections to the later stages of the band’s career in the 2000s, and even though I expanded the chapter to include a consideration of the new as a sense of space and especially mobility–the ability to change your circumstances, to build a new life–ultimately the chapter didn’t fit well and I cut it.

You can read the original column at PopMatters.


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