I Was The Everything
The other day I was telling a friend about my latest project of having to load decades of acquired music onto my PC. This has required my re-entry into earlier periods of musical taste, not all of which were bad. In fact, if I had known better then, I would have seen coming my near obsession with the music I now love. Anyway, my friend and I discovered we share a favorite tune in REM’s “You Are The Everything” from the band’s 1988 release, Green.
I always loved REM, from the first time I heard them. These days, some of what they did 20 years ago would likely be labeled "Americana" for what was then an undecidedly UNpop breakaway sound. I always felt an undercurrent in their music that carried me away. Years later I can now identify that quality as the band’s unabashed use of rural idioms alongside their very straighforward storytelling that favored the folklore inside the everyday. Instruments I didn’t know I cared about then made regular appearances. I give Peter Buck credit for bringing the mandolin into my life, even though it took me another 15 years to appreciate it.
This song just reminds me of many nights falling asleep to the sounds of crickets, the hum of activity in the rooms beneath me, often music -- albeit jazz, big band, or some other than bluegrass -- and no doubt conversation over a wide range of topics. Our homes both in the country and later, after we moved into town, always a little hub of gathering and music and conversation. This song also reminds me of many trips drifting off in the backseat, or in the very back of our wood-paneled Ford station wagon surrounded by luggage and the smell of Pampers on our way to North Carolina.
It’s been satisfying to tread back over musical territory I haven’t covered in a long while. As I steer myself in a new direction and prepare for new challenges, new growth, and hopefully new experiences and opportunities where my career and interests are concerned, I take some comfort in the fact that none of it is really new. It was always there, like something in this song, an invisible thread connecting me to my future.
Here's to the modern day balladeers hiding in our pop culture, who have in their hearts the same passion for old stories and themes and bits and pieces of tunes, and sneak them into their work just to bring the rest of us an uncommon, unfamiliar joy.
Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing (say, say, the light)
I'm very scared for this world
I'm very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory
Here's a scene
You're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel and feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
And they're there for you
For you alone you are the everything
I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I've seen the films and the eyes
But I'm in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful
And she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty
Of the light of music
The voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring and you're drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me
You are here with me
You have been here and you are everything
(repeat 1st verse)