Best tunes of 2001: #25 R.E.M. “Imitation of life”

#24 >>

And so here we are, all hallow’s eve, as good a time as any to start up a new series. You might have noticed that I finished up my Best of 2000 list a few weeks ago, and so now we’re on to 2001. This list is a bit longer than the one I did up for 2000 but I still haven’t quite gotten to thirty songs for the naughties decade (perhaps for 2002?). First up here, at song number twenty-five, is R.E.M. with their track “Imitation of life”.

As I’ve already mentioned already in this pages, I’ve been following Athens, Georgia’s finest since “Green” hit the charts when I was a teenie-bopper and would most definitely call myself a big fan. I recently endeavoured to narrow down my top five favourite tunes by R.E.M., a rough task, given their vast body of work, and posted the results on these pages. Looking back it at now, it’s noticeable that not one of the songs that made the final five were recorded after the end of the 90s. I personally found the early part of the 00s my least favourite period in R.E.M.’s catalogue, a period of albums that for the most part sounded like watered down versions of their best work, but still, there were some gems to be found.

One such example is “Imitation of life”, the first single off “Reveal”, buried deep in side two of the mix. It bears all the hallmarks of their sound. Peter Buck jangles and Michael Stipe hems and haws through half-nonsensical lyrics. Buck himself has admitted that the song feels like it is plagiarized from one of their early tracks. And yet, there’s something about it (isn’t there?) that begs for head bopping and singing along, especially at the bridge at the 2:40 mark when Buck and Mike Mills sit back, ease off on their instruments and let Stipe do his thing.

“This sugarcane
This lemonade
This hurricane, I’m not afraid
C’mon, c’mon no one can see me cry”

And lastly, if you haven’t seen it, have a gander at the neat-o video below. It’s the same twenty second shot played over and over, in forwards and reverse, simply focusing at different segments in the shot. Good stuff.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.

5 replies on “Best tunes of 2001: #25 R.E.M. “Imitation of life””

While I’d agree with Buck about the self-plagiarism with ‘bad day’ – I think this one walked the line nicely, sounding like REM without being a carbon copy of an older song.
And that video? To borrow a line from the song, the greatest thing since bread came sliced!

Liked by 1 person

Love the video for this one. I also tried figuring out where this tune would fit if I expanded out my top five and I’m thinking top 25. A great track but they have so many great tracks…

Liked by 1 person

Yeah – I’m not keen on the R.E.M. by numbers stuff that came pretty much after Up (not that I was much of a fan of that album, but it was a bit different at times). This track still makes me feel a bit empty, I’m afraid.


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