This week I learned that REM was calling it quits. I have been an REM fan since the Green album (1988) but Automatic for the People (1992) is not only their best but one of the best albums of all time.
My husband and I listened to this album while we were dating. We lived in a city with a beach only 5 minutes from wherever you were. Much of our dating time was spent on a beach. A group of us would go at night once they were officially closed to swim. It was the most rebellious thing I did in my teenage years. The song “Nightswimming” was an unofficial anthem.
When REM toured in 2003 with their greatest hits album the band was taking requests on their website. My husband wrote them and told them how we dated in a lake town, listened to the song and now we’ve been married for 8 years. He told them how we were driving 12 hours to see them play and that we would love to hear the song.
Halfway through the concert a piano was brought out. I said to Stein, and the crowd around me, “If it’s Nightswimming, that’s for us!”. Then Michael Stipe of REM said, “There is a couple here who drove a long way to be here. They used to listen to this song. Now they’re married. Anyway, this one is for you.” I started crying when the opening chords were played. People were clapping Stein on the back as he wrapped his arms around me and we heard Nightswimming played for us.
I love you, Stein! Here’s to many more years of Nightswimming.
Video from Later with Jools Holland. Not from “our” performance.