I have been checking out a lot of REM videos on youtube lately. A comment posted on one clip said that they were one of the most compassionate bands of their era, or any. This is a perceptive comment, a rarely appreciated quality and the secret of REM’s magic.

In his songs and his image, Michael Stipe consistently shows self-compassion; his lyrics suggest self-examination and the working out of a process, sometimes his performance moves look like a kind of dance therapy. As he makes space for his own individuality, he makes space for yours too, gives anyone a right to be just how they are, and in that moment, be less alone. Everybody hurts, everybody cries.

At their height of their success, Stipe was virtually alone as an American star in his rejection of macho cliches. Surrounded by the likes of Guns’n’Roses and Public Enemy etc, his presentation of a delicate, sexually ambiguous personality was brave.

I watched an interview in which Stipe said that he always tried to write from his subconscious, and that when he does that his lyrics seems to speak to the times, whether the song is political or not. I like the way he uses words as a kind of collage. As with many of my favourite lyricists, I’m not too bothered about what he actually means.

When I see a sensitive man, with a look similar to mine, I feel a kinship, a brotherhood. Stipe’s individuality is expressed musically and physically, although in speech, he doesn’t seem vulnerable at all, but quite matter-of-fact.

REM split up in 2011, a move I regarded as admirable. I mean no disrespect for bands that continue into their 70s, but the basic instincts of rock’n’roll are youthful, immature even (and no less valuable for it); it can’t continue too long and still feel spontaneous. Recently, Stipe was interviewed on BBC2’s Newsnight and said he believed he’d been a good pop star, an ‘ok’ rock star and he still missed being onstage. Feeling the loss and moving on anyway deserves respect.

Here are some REM videos I’ve been enjoying recently for all those reasons.

by Tom George During the last two months the UK has seemed like a different place. With a prolonged heatwave unmatched since the summer of ’76, a feeling of meditteranean langour has settled over the…

Source: Walking on Sunshine – why the heat makes us happy

Here’s a clip of me playing the title track of my latest CD ‘Gravity’. I filmed this at home, might do a series called ‘songs from the sofa’. Btw if you like the song it’s available to buy at http://www.tomgeorge.bandcamp.com

In addition to doing live gigs, I have been playing on the streets of towns and cities for years, and I have had some interesting experiences and opportunities come my way as a result.

Recently I was approached to contribute a track to an album featuring music by some of the world’s finest buskers. The Busking Project is an initiative set up with the aim of giving buskers the chance to sell their original music online in a similar way to how they earn a living on the street.

TBP release one ten-track album a month on their website, featuring music of many styles.  They currently have four albums available, all of which you can freely download once you donate $5 to the project.

How You Contribute and What You Get – The public are invited to donate an amount as little as $1 to the project and 60% of this goes directly to the artists featured on the site; the other 40% going to maintaining the project. This 60% is a vastly better deal for the artists than any conventional record deal, so you can be sure that you are supporting the producers of the music.

For a $1 donation you are kept informed of the progress of the project, $3 gives you access to videos and blogs but it all gets more exiting if  you donate $5, which gives you a downloads of this month’s album ‘Keep Streets Live’ – FEATURING ME!

VISIT https://www.patreon.com/busk to get involved.

If you don’t want to be kept informed about the project, you can simply sign up for one month and download all the albums (for $5, come on!) then delete your subscription.

This seems like a pretty good deal for the artists and you. How’s that possible? There is no record company involved.

But in case you need further convincing to support my involvement in this project, have a listen here to the track I have contributed, ‘Love’s on Fire’:

 

New old song…!!

This is a pop/punk track that I’d completely forgotten about. I used to play it with a band called Mind of a Toy in about 2007..? It’s a decent recording and as I could use it on my upcoming album (might have to re-record the vocals though). I don’t play this kind of stuff much anymore….but I think this song is too good to languish in the shadows unheard…

Dreamcatching

TOM GEORGE ARTS

Yesterday I met someone in the Egg cafe to talk about my Dreamcatcher project.

This is a series of interviews with folks about interesting, bizarre or memorable dreams they’ve had. I’m editing them into little films for the internet, with some of the dreams being visualised with dream sequences (obviously, the relatively low-budget dreams will stand the best chance of visualisation, as I can’t stretch to victorian costumes or alien battlecruisers at this stage)

Denny gave me a wonderful dream which you will have to wait for the new instalment to see. Meanwhile, here’s a reminder of the first dreamcatcher film.

Anyone with an interesting dream that wants to take part, please get in touch via spooneditor@hotmail.com

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