After 31 years together as one of the most exciting, inventive and talented bands in modern rock, R.E.M. announced today that they are retiring. A blog post on the band’s official website went online today explaining, in their own words, why and how R.E.M. came to the decision to — as they put it — “call it a day”. Click below to read the full statement released by the band. In terms of those of us who call ourselves huge fans of R.E.M., it’s the end of the world as we know it.
“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” R.E.M.
In their own words: The guys share their thoughts on why now.
“During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ‘what next’? Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together. We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers who truly love, and respect, each other. We feel kind of like pioneers in this–there’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”
“A wise man once said–‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way. We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.”
“One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us. It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you. Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you. Mike, Michael, Bill, Bertis, and I walk away as great friends. I know I will be seeing them in the future, just as I know I will be seeing everyone who has followed us and supported us through the years. Even if it’s only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world.”
Wow. 31 years is a long run and R.E.M. really did change the world with their music. I guess in the back of my mind, I never really thought about a time when the band might decide to call it quits. I believe them when they say that this decision did not come lightly and I also believe that they all decided amicably to go out on a high note. R.E.M. leave an indelible mark on new wave, modern rock, alternative, pop and on and on. Their music will live on for all time and they will be missed. Thankfully, we have a huge catalog of music to remember them by … and remember them, we shall.