I love Matthew Perpetua’s blog PopSongs, the blog he has devoted to his ruminations on R. E. M.  And I’m not alone.  Michael Stipe is enough of a fan that he’s made several guest appearances there, answering questions from fans and conversing directly with the blogger.  

Matthew makes a great argument for seeing
Lifes Rich Pageant, Document, and Green as three albums that define an evolution for R. E. M.  Namely, it reveals R. E. M. working out how to integrate politics into their music.  

According to Matthew, Lifes Rich Pageant demonstrates an “earnest hopefulness” hidden by “obscure language,” a “holdover of the shyness that characterized the group’s earliest work.”

A year later comes Document, and the tone darkens considerably.  The attitude is far more cynical.  

And then there’s Green where the messages are powerful and direct.  

So what’s the story here?

Matthew writes that it’s just the stages that “anyone goes through when developing their political awareness.  You jump into things believing ‘Hey, we can do this!  We can change the world if we want to!  Let’s put our heads together and start a new government!’  

And then comes [an] inevitable moment of disillusionment, and suddenly all the world looks grim.” 

But then...the realization dawns that, “yes, corruption and despair are constants in this world, and even the best institutions are a rigged game,...but there’s ample opportunity to put something positive in the world if you manage your expectations,...get up,...and put in the work.”

. . . .

Adapted from the blog Popsongs by Michael Perpetua