The online literary journal McSweeney's has a regular feature called
TO PEOPLE OR ENTITIES
WHO ARE UNLIKELY
Today I'd like to follow in this tradition with
AN OPEN LETTER TO
Oh, most maligned of R.E.M.'s albums (often found in multiple copies in the "Used" bin in the CD store), how I love you! People who had never heard the band before Out of Time and Automatic for the People expected R.E.M. to sound like that forever: folky, melodic, smooth, and pensive as all get-out. To their ears, Monster was more like a monster truck rally with a side order of sex and guitars, but from the first loud power chord it electrified me and reminded me of when we first heard R.E.M. in the bar across the street from our school. Every song was loud and fast and danceable; we left exhausted and happy and somehow soul-cleansed.
This morning, Monster, I woke at 5 a.m. and tried to go back to sleep. When I finally gave up at 6:30, I wasn't sure how I'd survive the day. Then for some reason, I remembered you.
Oh, Monster, this morning you are my wake-up bomb, my caffeine, the sparking and firing of my neurons, the bridging of my synapses, my way into existence, and the antidote (thank God!) to Christian radio. Long may you annoy people who love "Everybody Hurts"; long may you be discovered by twenty-somethings who realize that it's never too late for a troubled adolescence.