This has been quite a difficult week for a lot of people, me included.
Instead of trying to articulate my thoughts on it, I'll recount some memories.
- I remember being 8 and getting the tape for Document and trying to fast forward until it reached End of the World. Every time I stopped to check where I was I heard something new. Heron House, McCarthy, etc.
- I remember dancing around my room to Exhuming McCarthy.
- I remember the mystery of what the orange cassette that I got in November 1988 contained. Trying to wrap my child brain around World Leader Pretend, and trying to figure out why Hairshirt made me so sad.
- I remember the cover of Rolling Stone proclaiming them the best rock band in the world.
- I remember reading Tony Fletcher's book and learning about their history.
- I remember buying all the records up to 1992 on CD after my Bar Mitzvah. Until that time I only had cassettes of most of them.
- I remember the AOL forum, the Remarks and MLA mailing lists. Catbutt chat rooms on Sunday night.
- I remember going to Music+ at midnight to get Automatic for the People and Monster.
- Michael Stipe giving me a candy bowl from stage on October 31, 1995.
- Meeting Michael at a Patti Smith show in LA (her first in 15 years) in 1996. Him crying, me unable to speak.
- Starting Murmurs.com on a whim in 1996.
- Going to the book signing and meeting Michael again.
- Growing this site.
- I remember the 1999 tour, the after parties, meeting the band, meeting Patti Smith.
- Getting a call from the band before presenting a huge check to the Athens City Council, thanking me and me thanking them back for far more than I could ever do.
- Love Rocks in 2001. Reveal, wanting to go to Rio.
- I remember meeting my wife because of Mike. The generosity of this band in 2001 at Bridge School when I was going through a difficult time.
- I remember parties, after parties, being welcomed into homes and families. Coming to know this band not as heroes and idols, but as friends. Three guys never shy from giving a big hug and asking "How is everything?" A perfect circle of friends who surround this band.
- That feeling when listening to new REM for the first time. In some cases, in the studio with the band looking over my shoulder.
- Working with the best label in the entire planet on shaping this band's career for the last five years: Marc, Wendy, Susan, Lori, Grover, Rob, Brian, Julie, Lenny, Charlie, Luke, Amy, Tom, Jeff, Jack, Jennifer, Cara and especially Peter: the Warner Bros. Records REM Fanclub - you made that place the best home for the best band possible for 23 years.
- And I'll never forget the feeling of waking up on the 21st and seeing what I suspected would happen did.
This band, this site and these fans have been a part of my life for so long. I've always had this feeling that at some point I'm going to have to move on and let it go. It used to be a fear of mine. What was I without REM? Without Murmurs? But in some ways now it is a relief.
I am something without REM and Murmurs, but I'll never be who I was, and never be the same.
I know that the guys heard that little voice in their head, the one saying "It's time to let go now." And for a while I've heard the same. I came close a few weeks ago, and now I think I'm prepared to actually follow through on it.
On December 31, 2011 I'm going to "freeze" these boards as a monument in time, a reflection on its impact on the lives of many, and a timeless capsule of the world of REM from 2001-2011. Murmurs will remain, and I will probably make it something more like an episodic "magazine" for fans to curate and write.
I sit in my office surrounded by 20 years of artifacts and memories from this band and from the fans. I will always be defined by the impact it has had on me, and nearly every great thing in my life so far has traced itself back to something from this site or this band.
I thank you all for this impact you've had on me.
And to the band: words mean so little, but a big hug next time I see you will say everything.
EDIT: I missed two people who have been mentors, collaborators and friends in the last 16 years: David Bell and Bertis Downs. Thank you so much.