I want to say that words fail me, but, because of you, they don’t. Your amazing music was the soundtrack to my life. From the moment I first heardRadio Free Europe, Perfect Circle, and Talk About the Passion, I knew I was in the presence of something enormous, and that ‘something’ would change my life. Maybe forever. Your arrival coincided with a time in my own life when I was looking for the perfect outlet for not only the raging fury I embodied, but also the angst, pain, and confusion of living in this world. Your abstract lyrics and haunting melodies lured me in and kept me, like a secret lover, for nearly thirty years. Every time some major shift occurred in my life, so it did in your music. It was uncanny, really, that my life imitated your art. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
And you, John Michael Stipe…you were my muse for many years. I cannot recount the number of times your artistry inspired poetry, stories, and dreams…drawn from a depth inside of me I didn’t know existed until you came along. If ever there was a brother I’d wanted to know better, it was you. You were mysterious, alluring, and above all, one of the most creative souls who have ever graced this planet. You taught me that creativity has a beauty that remains undefined and amorphous. You showed me that one could always be creative without “selling out” to the highest bidder, but rather, setting the boundaries yourself so that they could be repeatedly torn down.
One of the things that I always strived for was to find a path of my own that you had inspired. I believe I’ve done a pretty awesome fucking job of it so far.
So thank you, REM. Not just for a stellar twenty-some years of jaw-dropping astonishment, for the music, and for being brave enough to share it with the world, but for also pulling a once-young man up by his bootstraps, dusting him off, and showing him that there is a place for people like me in the world. Thank you for all the amazing concerts and intimate shows (especially the “surprise” sets you pulled off as the hilariously named “Bingo Handjob” that I happened to catch in Georgia). You may not know the impact you’ve had on not only my life – but the lives of so many others – but you were sensitive when it mattered, conscientious when it seemed no one else cared, and brilliant in your form of expression.
So with that, I close this letter and bid you a very fond adieu.