Half A World Away: a parallel universe REM tribute show
Episode 1: April 14, 2015 / Madison, VA
Alice and I had a great visit today to a new Community Venue. Since they were completely unfamiliar with my repertoire I decided to open the REM tribute tour right here at home, so the majority of the set list was comprised of songs either written by REM, cover songs they have done, or songs by their influences.
Tired of Singing Trouble (REM)
I’ve Been High (REM)
Hello In There (J. Prine / Michael cover)
Breakfast With You (original)
Half A World Away (REM)
Walk Away Renee (Left Banke)
Jolene (D. Parton)
Wendell Gee (REM)
Hallelujah (L. Cohen)
The One I Love (REM)
Dream Dream (Everly Bros. / REM cover)
The crowd was wonderfully attentive and appreciative, and it was clear that they liked the music even though a great deal of it was brand new to them. The facility had an awesome floor made of old pine boards that contributed to some wonderful acoustics!
Alice was her usual adorable hit self, spending most of the time perched on a chair. She eventually moved to the floor where she curled up in the guitar case and went to sleep.
I have the best job…
The first leg of the Play Something Pretty That You Like spring tour will consist of a series of Community Venue concerts featuring the music of R.E.M.
The music of this now-retired mega-band from Athens, GA has been consistently popular with senior citizens and the disabled children and adults that I have been entertaining since 1995. Half A World Away was the first REM song I brought to seniors that year and it immediately established itself as a favorite, remaining on the set list for years. I was invited to play it at the memorial service for one of the ladies from that very first Community Venue.
Without a doubt the two most common words that seniors have used over the years to describe most of the REM songs I play are “beautiful” and “relaxing”. It’s fun and rewarding to introduce artists that I respect to audiences that might otherwise never experience their music. It’s fun watching them quickly become fans and make requests like “Play that one about the blackbirds!”.
And it’s doubly fun to put a Community Venue REM Tribute show on the road because they have been so very supportive of the SongSharing effort beginning with their 1993 donation of CD’s, DVD’s, and T-shirts to our “CD’s For The Troops” drive.
I’m over the top thrilled that Michael Stipe once covered the John Prine classic Hello In There with Natalie Merchant. Hello In There is about how lonely it is to grow old, and how profoundly important it can be to just say “Hello”. I can’t think of a musician I’ve met that would idealistically disagree with the song. Play Something Pretty That You Like speaks to the opportunity to animate those lyrics and personify that spirit.
Below is the song list from which the set lists will be drawn. It includes not only REM originals but a few songs they have covered over the years and some by artists that influenced them.
The One I Love
Losing My Religion
Half a World Away
Fall on Me
End of the World As We Know It
Let Me In
A Poem and “Making Moves”
Tired of Singing Trouble
Dream Dream (Drifters)
Hello In There (John Prine)
Love Is All Around (The Troggs)
Arms of Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
Leonard Cohen / Hallelujah