photo & text by nacrowe
while this is not the best R.E.M. album, OUT OF TIME (WARNER BROS, 1991) is very much one of those records i remember as a young kid (i was 7 when this was released) with songs like "SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE" and "LOSING MY RELIGION" became massive hits on the radio. in fact i initially took guitar lessons in first grade because i was to learn those two songs. ironically this was the mandolin-heavy record that guitarist PETER BUCK wrote when he was on sabbatical from the guitar, but that is neither here nor there. for me this record was very much the entry point into the world of making and playing music. sadly i quit shortly thereafter because my hands were not big enough to play barre and open chords, that came later in middle school. my father took up lessons instead with my guitar teacher and several continents, 3 bands and nearly 20 guitars later he's still playing and learning his way around the instrument on a daily basis.
so yeah, thats what this record represents to me: my childhood and getting excited about guitar-playing in general. i know for some die-hard INDIE ROCK fans "SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE" is kind of a black-eye in their discography as it marks a point of seemingly unadulterated commercialism, but i disagree. there is nothing inauthentic about celebrating life and being content with oneself. to me it is very much in keeping with what i interpret as the persona surrounding MICHAEL STIPE and his willingness to be vulnerable and see the good in people. in a sense i view it as a song about FAITH, you are searching out for the good in people despite the fact that such leaves you susceptible to pain. for me that song in particular is almost a the flip-side to that of the deep introspection and seemingly painful process of SELF-DISCOVERY and SELF-ACCEPTANCE at heart in "LOSING MY RELIGION." its almost as if that sense of openness only comes from a sense of acceptance of ones own shortcomings.
i think this album often gets overlooked because of it singles but it is well-worth revisiting. for me i hold onto it for sentimental meanings as it reminds me of my bonds with my father, which encompasses the better parts of my childhood.