R.E.M. – Music Biography


R.E.M. is the band that defined and then eclipsed college rock. Formed in Athens, Georgia, their first single “Radio Free Europe” was released in 1981. They enjoyed a strong cult following through their early albums Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction and Lifes Rich Pageant. In 1987 they broke free of the alternative underground with Document and the hit songs “The One I Love” and “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

In 1988 the band left their independent label I.R.S. to sign with Warner Bros Records for a reported six million dollars. Their first album with Warner Bros was Green, which produced the top ten hit “Stand.” The band took an extended break from playing live and didn’t tour between 1989 and 1995. During that period they released the biggest albums of their career: Out of Time (1991), Automatic for the People (1992) and Monster (1994). This period of activity saw the band writing some of their most defining songs, such as “Losing My Religion,” “Man on the Moon,” “Everybody Hurts” and “Drive.”

In 1996 they resigned with Warner Bros for a reported 80 million dollars, the most ever paid to a band. They continued to tour and release albums through the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2007 they were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008 they released Accelerate, an album of guitar driven rock songs in a similar vein to 1994’s Monster. The album sold poorly in the United States but proved very popular internationally. They followed it up in 2011 with Collapse Into Now, an album that combines the faster rock sound of Accelerate with slower, moodier songs like those on Automatic for the People.

Unexpectedly, the band announced in September 2011 that they were breaking up after thirty one years together.

R.E.M. Easy Songs for Guitar

R.E.M. is very much a guitar band with Peter Buck’s guitar style providing a distinctive and identifiable sound. Buck himself acknowledges that typical R.E.M. songs are “minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-colk-rock-balladdish things.” The frequent use of arpeggios and general absence of guitar solos make them a great band for beginners to learn from.

We have chosen the songs “Losing My Religion,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Driver 8“ for our Easy Songs for Beginners. We think that most beginners will enjoy learning these songs and playing the arrangements we’ve created.

Man on the Moon – R.E.M. – Easy Songs for Beginners

Man on the Moon is a beautiful song that beginners can play easily, and it doesn’t take all that much to add some very nice touches to it for a solo arrangement. It also offers a good look at how to “cheat” on quick chord changes.

Losing My Religion – R.E.M. – Easy Songs for Beginners

In this arrangement you can play the guitar, mandolin and bass parts all on a solo acoustic guitar. Includes audio examples you can download.

Driver Eight – R.E.M. – Easy Songs for Beginners

This is a fun and easy to play arrangement of an old REM song, Driver Eight. We’ll look at incorporating a riff into the strumming and switching our strumming around with different patterns for different parts of a song.

Outside of these lessons, we also have a song lesson on the R.E.M. cover of the old classic Love Is All Around.