Little known fact: the original name of Virtue in the Wasteland was “Jeff and Dan’s Vanity Project to Explore Their Hobbies” but we decided to go a little more broad and talk about society and religion and stuff… Maybe that’s not exactly how it played out, but there is a funny bit of guilt we feel whenever we dive head first into a topic that is seemingly just tickling our fancy as mass entertainment and thus unworthy of critical reflection. But on this show we will argue that R.E.M. is not just one of our favorite bands, but the most important American band of all time. Sound hyperbolic? Check out the show and see if we can pull off the argument and join in on virtueinthewasteland.com We recorded this show from the RV somewhere between Athens, GA and Charlottesville, VA after our pilgrimage to the mecca of R.E.M. fan sites. We got to discussing the band, its evolution and role in 80’s and 90’s pop culture. On this show, which was recorded moths ago and feared lost until only a few days ago, we make the audacious argument that R.E.M. is the most significant rock band in U.S. history. 3 caveats: this is not “the best R.E.M. songs” podcast. In fact, if it was, it would suffer from being terribly mundane and uninventive as a “best of”. Doing that, using commercial success and air play to judge significance, would make this super lame and obvious. So the tracks we pick are the hits, but the ones that are indicative of the band, and tell us something about them and the society they reflected. Caveat # 2: There is a lot of music on this episode! About a minute or so of each song we talk about. Using all the actual music is allowed under the Fair Use Act, as we are playing it to comment on, and use for teaching purposes. In case you were concerned. Caveat #3 We do not discuss R.E.M. post New Adventures in Hi-Fi. This is not because we dislike later R.E.M. (listen to our show with Dave Zahl, he convinced us to give late R.E.M. more attention in our own lives. We could argue that R.E.M after New Adventures is a different band, as Bill Berry suffered an aneurysm on tour and retired, giving way to a rotating list of drummers and (unfortunately, in this case) drum machines. I have recently picked up an article I’ve been working on ,which ranks every R.E.M. song. Late R.E.M is well represented. On the Spotify list below, you can see some of our picks for post Hi-Fi R.E.M. songs.