Happy birthday to Michael Edward “Mike” Mills born on this date in 1958. Mills was a founding member, songwriter and bass player for one of my all time favorite bands REM:
An older friend of mine from the Air Force introduced me to REM. We were on a road trip, a deployment from our base near Tacoma to a more remote base in Oregon. The idea was that if World War III started, our squadron of fighter jets would bug out to some other location to survive and fight another day!
He had a cassette deck in his car and we brought a few pre-recorded things to listen to on the trip. I remember I brought the U2 Joshua Tree record and he had a copy of the gigantic (and in my opinion horrible) live Bruce Springsteen box set.
He complained about how political U2 sounded, I complained about having to listen to the boss… again!, and then he pulled out the REM album Reckoning:
I was completely blown away! I had never heard anything like this. Songs were diverse and catchy and the moody sounding lead singer half mumbled and half warbled songs about water.
I bought everything I could find from REM at the first record store I went into after that day; Murmur, Reckoning, Fables Of The Reconstruction…
Reckoning was a standout then and remains my favorite REM album to this day. Here’s David Letterman getting clued in to REM between Murmur and Reckoning: