Remember the glory days when MTV played music videos? Remember when you first heard “Radio Free Europe” with Peter Buck’s jangling guitar and Michael Stipe’s mysterious mumbles? In 1981, the Athens, Ga., music scene gave birth to R.E.M., and MTV was there from the beginning to watch the band grow up.
MTV takes you back through the decades with the release a six-DVD collection REMTV on November 24. Prior to release, fans in select cities get a sneak peek with special “one-night only” theatrical screenings of the documentary R.E.M. By MTV tonight.
Here are 10 facts and quotes from the documentary that remind us of a time when we wanted our MTV—and why we still love our R.E.M.:
1. When MTV VJs asked about his sexuality, R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe explained “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what I do with my dick unless they’re sitting in my lap.”
2. MTV was hip to R.E.M. very early on and stayed with them throughout their career—until, of course, they basically quit playing music videos.
3. Bassist Mike Mills casually explains that the band chose the name R.E.M. out of the dictionary because “it was short and didn’t offend anyone.”
4. Mid-career, Stipe shamelessly admits, “The early days I wasn’t saying a lot, I was just moaning and howling to the music.”
5. R.E.M.’s guitarist Peter Buck admits that when their first single “Radio Free Europe” was announced to have hit number one in the New York Times his reaction was an unaffected “well…whatever.”
6. When R.E.M. makes a record, they start a list called “Name this Record.” On the list in 1991 were favorites like “Cat Butt”, “Trolling For Olives” and “Imitation Crabmeat” though the band settled for an apropos “Out of Time.”
7. After Out of Time hit number one, R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry was “afraid it would hurt our street cred.”
8. About “Shiny Happy People” Mills said, “Though it’s a good song, it’s not what you want to be remembered for in history. It’s silly and is suppose to be silly.”
9. MTV gave R.E.M. the VMA’s Video Vanguard Award in 1995. Since Stipe was always in charge of the videos for the group, he humbly stated in his acceptance speech, “R.E.M. made a bunch of videos that didn’t suck.”
10. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, when inducting R.E.M. into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, describes the relationship between Stipe and his listeners as Stipe “helping us find things inside us and things we didn’t know were inside us…though I couldn’t understand a fucking [word] he was saying.”
Watch the trailer for R.E.M. by MTV below: