Begin the Begin: R.E.M.'s Early Years with author Robert Dean Lurie
By Dan Michaels
June 10, 2019
Begin the Begin is the first biography of R.E.M. wholly researched and written since they disbanded in 2011. It offers by far the most detailed account of the group's formative years--their early lives, their first encounters with one another, their legendary debut show, early tours in the back of a van, initial recordings, their shrewdly paced rise to fame.
The people and places of the American South are crucial to the R.E.M. story in ways much more complex and interesting than have previously been presented, claims Robert Dean Lurie; he explores the myriad ways in which the band's adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia--and the South in general--shaped its members and the character of their art. The South is much more than the background here; it plays a major role: the creative ferment that erupted in Athens and gripped many of its young inhabitants in the late 1970s and early '80s drew on regional traditions of outsider art and general cultural out-thereness, and gave rise to a free-spirited music scene that produced the B-52's and Pylon, as well as laying the ground for R.E.M.'s subsequent breakout success.
Lurie has tracked down and interviewed numerous figures in the band's history who were underrepresented in, or absent from, earlier biographies--they contribute previously undocumented stories and cast a fresh light on the familiar narrative.
ABOUT ROBERT DEAN LURIE
Robert Dean Lurie is a writer and musician based in Tempe, Arizona. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is the author of "Begin the Begin: R.E.M.'s Early Years," "We Can Be Heroes: The Radical Individualism of David Bowie," and "No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church."
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