Timing is everything. R.E.M.’s first album and I hit Tuscaloosa in 1983.
When I got there, I knew nothing about college or alternative rock. But I was ready for something beyond the Top 40 and found it on the University of Alabama campus radio station, WVUA.
VUA played “Radio Free Europe” from “Murmur” in as steady a rotation as a campus station is likely to do. I took notice. I remember the song seemed to just jump out of my car speakers one day as I crept over the train tracks on Hackberry Lane, past the Flowers bakery, making my way to campus. I thought, “Man, I really love this song.”
“Murmur” is usually called R.E.M.’s first album, and being new to college radio station I was unaware of the earlier “Chronic Town” EP, which I didn’t hear until a lot later — and by a lot I mean just the other day.
So I wasn’t on the R.E.M. ground floor, but thanks to WVUA I was a pretty early adopter. I bought “Murmur” around that time, probably at the grungy Vinyl Solution record store on the Strip. I was hooked and had no idea my love for R.E.M. was going to last well past college.
Next: 40 years later, still second guessing