Friday, November 12, 2010

JDIZZY's 365 # 185: Nightswimming

Nightswimming - R.E.M. (1992)

I understand the importance of Athens, Ga's finest sons' early work. I appreciate their commercial breakthroughs of Document, Green and Out Of Time. Monster and New Adventures In High-Fi were released when I was in high school, so they take me back to a special time. Their later work, while dropping slightly in critical favor and quality, are still better songs than bands like Nickelback will ever put out.......... You've noticed I've left something out? Here's my explanation. I believe that everything R.E.M. released prior to Automatic For The People was building up to that moment. It is a rarity even among "perfect" albums because it stuns the listener with just how perfect it is. Nothing is out of place The album flows smoothly like the river we must find in the final track. Along the way we meet angsty teens, sidewinders, assisted suicide patients, Andy Kaufman and Montgomery Clift. Only one obstruction stops us on this serene and powerful journey: What Chris Martin called the greatest song ever written. "Nightswimming" is nostalgia for a time that was sacred. It's not that now is bad, just that for a brief time in the past, life was everything we knew it could be. Maybe we are far removed, maybe we are completely different people now, but those memories always come back. It's not a bad thing. We welcome our reflection of them. We will always hold them in our minds, hearts and spirit. Michael Stipe captures this with Mike Mills' repeating piano phrase and John Paul Jones' beautiful string arrangement. It is an eternity removed from "Radio Free Europe", as well as "Imatation Of Life". Although it comes as the next to last track, it is the centerpiece of their greatest work. They never needed to record anything else. The fact that they did just shows what a remarkable bunch of fellows R.E.M. really are.

Harry, you truly have infiltrated every aspect of my life, including this beautiful song!

Just a beautiful cover with looping pedals, no less!


  1. I was always afraid to admit this was my fave REM album. No longer! I think it was just so contextual for the time.

  2. I agree. Automatic just captured a moment for them that I don't think can ever be any band. It makes me sad, happy, nostalgic and excited for the future all at once.