As you've probably all heard, the other day, REM broke up after 31 years. Such a great band. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in concert back in '99, when they were playing Jones Beach. I'll never forget it. I sat six rows from the front, and rocked out to every song. I waved a bunch of times, and Michael Stipe always waved back to me, or maybe that's how I liked to have viewed it. Either way, it was an incredible experience, and will rank as the best concert I'd went to.
I can't really say that I'm surprised that they broke up. Creatively and commercially, I'd say that they peaked with "Automatic for the People". Although many of their albums were very good after that, they just weren't able to match that or their earlier offerings. Also, I think Bill Berry's departure was a blow that they were never able to recover from. Above all, I hold the commercialization of music responsible. It has led to acts that appeal to the lowest common denominator (I'm talking to you, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Maroon 5, the list goes on and on) while leaving pioneering rock bands like REM in the dust. I read that their last album only sold around 50,000 copies.
I wanted to close this post out with "Find the River", from "Automatic for the People". I hear it's the last song that Kurt Cobain listened to before he took his life. BTW, "Nevermind" just had its 20 anniversary.