The Artist’s Date is a block of time that aspiring and established artists devote to stepping aside from their work to engage in simple, fun activities that nourish their creative spirits. All artists have experienced creative blocks and know the feeling of keeping their noses to the grindstone, making their days feel only dutiful and drab. According to Cameron, what is needed is a good dose of enforced play, whether it involves a trip to a museum or toy store or simply baking a pie.
I’ve stumbled on something that would resemble an Artist’s Date by buying CDs in second hand shops (sometimes for as low as a quarter) and bringing them home to listen to.
“BUT YOU LOVE VINYL” is what everyone will cry and that is true but what I do not love is the skyrocketing price of vinyl due to its resurgence.
Back to the Artist’s Date…finding a CD from years past for less than a dollar and playing it on a good sound system does just what the Artist’s Date is supposed to do…breaks me out of a funk.
This leads me to R.E.M.’s Monster…
Thanks to finding this CD, I’ve been listening to R.E.M.’s Monster a lot. It’s probably not fair to say I’m “revisiting” it as I pretty much ignored the album upon release in 1994. In my defense, I was 16 and starting to find louder, more punk stuff to listen to (i.e. Fugazi, etc.).
“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” was the overplayed first single and a song I could never get into. But, I can only listen to Murmur, Out of Time and Automatic For The People so many times before I need to start venturing into the latter R.E.M. catalog.
I think everyone would agree this is R.E.M.’s “rock record” with the fuzzy guitars especially songs like “Crush With Eyeliner”, “Star 69”, “I Took Your Name” and definitely “Let Me In”. Speaking of “Star 69”, it occurred to me that most people who grew up with cell phones will not even understand that reference.
The song that stands out for me, ironically, is “Strange Currencies” and that’s probably because it’s the most traditional R.E.M. sounding song on the whole record. Still, it’s a beautiful song that I think someone could cover today and still have success with it.
I realize now that what I enjoy most about this album is that it doesn’t sound like a R.E.M. album and knowing they probably will not record again anytime soon, that’s what makes it feel fresh and new now. I encourage anyone to jump out of their hit record catalog and listen to this one for awhile.
If you swore off this album in 1994 because it wasn’t “R.E.M. enough”, start again with “Strange Currencies” and work your way backwards. I bet you’ll find more to like than you remember. At least that’s what happened to me.
I look forward to taking my inner artist out for more dates to find more CDs to listen to. I’ll write about them here. Stay tuned for more…