Begin The Begin

For some reason, I often seem to be at a loss for what to write about on Mondays. Lately, I've been cross posting my haiku challenge from my photoblog, which kind of seems like cheating. So, until I get bored of the idea, which may be by next week, on Mondays I'm going to write about some of my concert memories. I love live music and have been to my fair share of shows. For some reason, on the drive home from work today, I was thinking about the first time I saw R.E.M. live and the tale surrounding it. So, that's where I'll start.

I first heard R.E.M. sometime around '83 or '84 on a college radio station I would listen to in my room at night that broadcast from Pasadena, Texas. (I lived outside of Houston at the time). I believe it was the Spring of '85 when my parents' friend's sister came to visit from Austin, where she was college student. She was really cool and had some records with her that she let me record. I made a cassette of at least one, if not two, of her R.E.M. albums.

Fast forward several years and I was in college myself, in central New York. It was the Fall of '88 and I was smitten with an artsy pothead that I'll call Mike. He made the coolest mixed tapes for me and I edited his English papers. That should've been a clue as he was the English major and I was a physical therapy student! We loved listening to R.E.M. together and whenever he hung out in my dorm room, he'd play one of my favorite songs, "Talk About The Passion," on my roommate's acoustic guitar. When we heard that R.E.M. would be doing a show the following Spring in his hometown, a city a bit north of school, my roomie and I were in! Mike went home the weekend tickets went on sale and camped out (remember when you had to do that?) with some friends to get great seats.

After Winter Break, things went downhill for me and Mike. I remember going to a frat party at a nearby college. Mike was very quiet and finally got up the nerve to tell me that even though he really, really, really liked me, he'd been cheating on me the entire time with his old girlfriend back home who was still in high school and who I had met one weekend when she had visited as a "friend." He'd realized it wasn't fair and he needed to choose and that he'd chosen ME and broken it off with her! I was pissed, but forgiving. Oh, I was such a naive little sucker. So we continued on, for what turned out to be a very short time, until the day he dropped by my dorm room and said he'd lied and never broke up with the other girl, blah, blah, blah....and in fact they'd been back together ever since he went home to get the concert tickets.

So there was no way in hell that I was going to the concert. I mean come one, SHE would be there! But wait, I'd paid for my ticket. I had every right to go. My roommate was very kind and said she'd defer to me. I was a bit crazed and changing my mind every other hour. It really came down to the wire and we had some people lined up who were willing to buy the tickets last minute if I just couldn't go. Well, I came to the conclusion that there was no way I was going to miss my chance to see R.E.M. live over a boy.

Mike drove me, Roomie, and one of his friends to the show. Once there, we went on to our seats, which were in the 11th row on the floor and with Mike's younger brother, who was so much nicer and cooler than he was. Mike, Girlfriend, and two other people were in the 2nd or 3rd row. Whatever. We ended up having a blast!!! The Indigo Girls opened and they were really great. The coolest bit was when Michael Stipe joined them to sing his part on "Kid Fears." Damn! I'd never heard of a headliner singing with the opening band! R.E.M. blew me away with their incredible music, Michael Stipe's energetic stage presence, and their multimedia show.

My bubble got burst right after the show when I found out we'd be giving Girlfriend a ride home. Mike was driving a Volvo station wagon at the time, so my roommate and I climbed into the very back with our backs turned on everyone else in the car. Yes, it was painfully awkward and well, just painful. After dropping her off, it was a very long and very silent ride back to school. I don't regret for a second going to the concert. I would have missed out on a great time that was only partially agonizing. I don't think I even remember how badly the whole situation hurt me as time truly does heal some of those wounds. Now I just realize how stupid I almost was.

I've seen R.E.M. three more times, all in Southern California. The second time had some drama surrounding it too, which resulted in a $300 international phone bill. But, that's another story for another day.


Anonymous said...

Heh. Did I ever mention that I hate Texas? But the college radio station at Rice was pretty good. My friend worked there and he got us free tickets to see the Go-Go's in 1981. We saw them at the Agora Ballroom on Richmond, pressed up against the stage, lookup up Charlotte Caffey's skirt. Them were good times.

Brenda Griffith said...

Oh I am sooooo envious! I would have even put up with the girlfriend to see that show. I love the Indigo girls and the Kid Fears with Michael Stipe is one of my all-times. I'll say this for Georgia--it's produced some great bands and those are my two favorites.

madretz said...

Cool story, thanks for sharing it. Looking forward to reading more.
I've never been to an R.E.M. concert before. Would have have to seen that concert w/ the Indigo Girls.

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