Long Live the Strange

It is approporiate to be writing about the word strange on Halloween day. It is the night when everyone’s crazies come out, and it’s okay! REM strangely come to mind.

This post is in response to #SoCS Write a stream of consciousness post using the words strange/stranger/strangest.

The first thing I thought of when I heard the word “strange” was REM’s song of the same title. It’s one of those songs in the middle of an album that people usually haven’t heard much unless they’re serious fans. That was me. I’d go to sleep with my REM music every night most of my adolescence and into early adulthood. They spoke to me. I used to hear their music and imagine a college campus on a foggy day. The entire album “Murmur” did that for me. “Strange” came later on the album “Document.” That one had “The One I Love” on it and I bet everyone who listened to radio in the 80’s recalls “It’s the End of the World as We Know it and I Feel Fine.” I actually have the words to that memorized. But strange was different. It’s a straight ahead rock and roll song with very simple lyrics anyone can sing along to.

There’s something strange going on tonight
There’s something going on that’s not quite right
Michael’s nervous and the lights are bright
There’s something going on that’s not quite right uh huh

I’m not sure exactly why I was drawn to REM so strongly. They are strange in many way. Then again, they’re good old boys. Maybe REM fans are good old boys looking for something strange? It was all far off and indiscernible then. Albums later we learned Michael Stipe indentifies as “Queer.” Does that mean strange? I think it means bisexual but also cross dresser? He lost me there but I still love REM music. I din’t hold anything against gays or bisexuals or crossdressers. As Michael termed himself: I hold nothing against queers. Music is music whoever you are. I am glad he liberated some people who may have been suffering in silence. Good for Michael. Long live the strange. Happy Halloween.

Author: Damien Riley

Damien Riley is a blogger, film reviewer, & podcaster who writes a column at RileyCentral.blog once a week. He has an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton. He married a high-desert princess (now his queen). They have 3 children.

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