I used to *love* REM. I mean, in high school and college, I was REM girl. One of the first conversations I had with my (now) husband was about "Automatic for the People." (Yes, we're that old.) Sadly, the band's music has mostly gone sour for me; even the songs I loved most ("Superman," "Sidewinder") seem dated. And Michael Stipe's recent interview with Kurt Andersen only confirmed what I'd suspected in recent years: he's still really smart and interesting but way too self-conscious and serious. (Of course I respect and admire him greatly. Let's just say he's not a barrel of laughs.)
But tonight, I couldn't stop singing "Gardening at Night" to myself as I pulled weeds around the azaleas and tomatoes and mint. It was totally peaceful, with the fireflies for company and the neighbors walking by. Then it got too dark to see what I was doing, so I came in and scrubbed the mud from under my fingernails and looked up "Gardening at Night" on YouTube. Turns out this song holds up. It's nostalgic, mild and sweet—mumbled lyrics, jangly guitar and all. Look how young they are. Look at the prehistoric production values. Look at Michael Stipe's hair!