My Favorite Albums, a top ten #4 Document – R.E.M.

02 Sep

Document is an album that acts as an aural time machine. Spring 1990 on a family vacation on Siesta Key. At its very opening I am walking the beach at dusk listening to a worn cassette. Stop, eject, flip, play.  Finest Worksong, The One I Love. The One I Love, Finest Worksong.

Document is one of the ‘purchased on more than one format’ albums in my library. The tape was beat up well before there was any concern for having a tape deck available. I have lost at least one CD to damage, theft or time. Exhuming McCarthy is timeless in that fear politicking, especially when it tweaks at false nationalistic bravado.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) is about as fine of an apocalyptic ditty as you will find. Over played and often poorly incorporated into other art it is one of R.E.M’s best known songs. It doesn’t ruin the song at all for me. I no longer seek it out (FF, Stop, Play, Rewind, Stop, Play) so much as happen upon it. But it sits well, leaving me feeling content that there is far more I can’t control than what I can and that fretting too much on the former is time ill spent, even for a full time ponderer.



I feel like I am in some film noire a la R.E.M. when I listen to Oddfellows Local 151. The preacher PeeWee reminds me of a darker, more sinister version of the preacher man in Estimated Prophet by the Grateful Dead. The lyrics are pained when paired with the instrumentation which opens with a rather haunting feedback. I can feel a bit of the chaos, though the story pulls me in. It is pretty dark for R.E.M.



King of Birds is a song that has always fascinated me.  It has mostly felt like a song about alienation, an inability to connect with other people.  There are a few times a week where I have said something, perhaps even gone on about something at length and I have been unable to connect my message to the person I am speaking with.  This song takes me to those moments.

Its marching tone leads me into the story and I love taking the verses into the round(more evident in the studio cut than this live one).

“I am the king of all I see/my kingdom for a voice”



Welcome to the Occupation. This song is kind of like listening to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It says a lot, while saying a lot of things that may appear to be gibberish or unrelated but if you pick at it and think about it, 2:49 seconds can take you on a half hour adventure.

Since 9/11 morphed from an event we could come together on as a nation on into agendas based on fear, misinformation and polarization at the expense of reason (maybe 10/01 at some point?) this song makes me think of how we as a nation are making easy prisoners of ourselves. I am not suggesting that day didn’t impact me greatly. It did.  Our botch job of the aftermath is more troubling than the event itself.   Anyway, that is how Welcome to the Occupation can twist in my head.



Disturbance at the Heron House twists in my head like Welcome to the Occupation.  What a beautiful, poetic breeze.


There are no weak point on the 11 track album- Strange, Lightning Hopkins, Fireplace are all fantastic songs.  The album doesn’t leave me trapped in 1990, though it allows for a view back through that lens. Damn, I was a putz. But at least I was a putz who recognized the beauty and depth of this album.

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Posted by on 09/02/2013 in Weekapaug Groove


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