Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ring Cycle: Rock band

In any relationship, there is a give and take of influences. You teach each other and more than anything, my former wife and I shared music.

At the time we met, I'd spent four years working at a six station radio interest in Bluefield that played top 40 country, crispy-fried oldies and the very dregs of mainstream pop (affectionately referred to as Adult Contemporary). It was like I'd spent four years half deaf. Anything I listened to beyond the crap that was on the air at the radio station I worked at was whatever was gleaned by accident on trips to Baltimore, where I discovered Radiohead one dark night on the Beltway around Washington.

Jen came into my life with volumes and volumes of CDs by artists I'd never heard of (Dar Williams and Toshi Regan come to mind) and many artists I'd forgotten (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and REM).

Thinking about it, I can't say I added much to Jen's musical experience, really. Probably, because I liked some of the things she already did, it encouraged her to listen to those artists a little more often when I was around. There wasn't much in my CD collection she liked.

REM was the most significant musical artist we shared. I liked them, had listened to them in high school and some in college, but they were her favorite band. She had practically their entire catalog and was a member of their fan club --something she was very proud of, since it gave her access to rare releases.

We listened to a hell of a lot of REM, particularly in the early days, and I came to appreciate the band's early and middle-year stuff much more than I had when it was new. We saw REM twice together --once in 2002 and again in 2004 --and while I can't recall for sure if we really ever had a song that was our song, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that REM provided the soundtrack to much of our relationship.

They were her band and they kind of became our band.

Yesterday, REM announced their breakup and that seemed so completely fitting.

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