Monday, July 07, 2008

Find the River

Song: Find the River
Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Automatic for the People

There have been times in my life where music and the current circumstances I was dealing with strangely collided. Times where I felt life’s answers were hidden in a song, despite the knowledge that the songwriter no doubt knew nothing about me, nor the state at which my life was currently at. Once again, it’s moments like these that prove the case for the power of music, and the artistry of songwriting.

I discovered R.E.M. after “Out of Time” and had just about gotten their entire back catalog by the time “Automatic” came out. I was a full-fledged new fan and “Automatic” solidified them as one of the most popular bands of the early 90’s. I loved the album at first listen pretty much, but over time it grew on me in a way very few albums have. And at one point in my life I felt like the record had literally been written FOR ME. “Find the River” specifically caught my ear as it vaguely seems to be about the struggle of finding your true path in life. This song spelled a few things out to me many moons ago and when I hear it I am forced to think about my current life, the choices I’ve made, and where I was when this song so impacted me. Pretty powerful.

The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rows of hay
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way

As I was thinking about not only some of my favorite songs of all time, but albums I think “Automatic” might take the lead spot. I have not since had a work of music that has changed meaning for me over time. And there have been times (specifically when listening to a new, wildly disappointing, R.E.M. album) where I absolutely marvel at this record. Song for song it’s one of R.E.M.’s best, but beyond that it holds together like a true album with a common theme of loss, re-birth, and personal discovery.

I acknowledge that I could be totally alone in how much this albums means to me, and that’s the great thing about music. Sure I have, at times, had a friend or two that RAVED up and down on a beautiful song to have me think it’s over-produced garbage… but that’s why the song got to THEM and not ME. It found them because it needed to speak to them. In essence I believe that like finding the river for ourselves, music can find us to direct us.


Find the River

Man on the Moon


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