Without Berry, R.E.M. has recorded three quiet, unimpressive albums. Meanwhile, U2 is on top of the rock heap again—a brand as much as a band, representing both sincerity and success. Just check out their Successories-ready aphorisms in U2 by U2: "I always thought the job was to be as great as you could be," says Bono. "If it is not absolutely the best it can be, why bother?" says bassist Adam Clayton. And that's just in the flap copy!
Either you loved U2, or you liked them fine. Either you loved R.E.M., or you hated them. The delicacy at the heart of R.E.M.'s 1980s albums fostered introspection and brotherhood among those of us who loved them in those years: introspection, because the songs pushed the listener inward, finding significance in every line; brotherhood, because we had to band together to defend our heroes against the unfeeling jerks who found R.E.M. precious and maddeningly opaque. I assumed, of course, that those jerks were U2 fans.
There never really was a rivalry, of course. In 1992, members of the two groups combined to perform a sweet version of "One" at MTV's Inaugural Ball. Despite all of my righteous teenage anger on R.E.M.'s behalf, U2 and R.E.M. were entirely friendly. Bono even discusses Stipe in U2 by U2: "Michael Stipe's friendship means more to me than I can ever tell you," he says on Page 162. Then, he doesn't mention Stipe's name again in the book.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Crowds March in 160 Countries to Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.