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long road

This month's Song X: "Long Road"

This Song X may come as a surprise to many of you. It is our pleasure to feature what we feel is a very special, and still hard-to-find, version of a much-loved (well, around here anyway) PJ song, "Long Road," performed by Michael Stipe from R.E.M. (accompanied by Natalie Merchant (formerly of 10,000 Maniacs) and Tony Shanahan from Patti Smith's band), live from the annual Tibet House benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York February 23, 1997.

R.E.M., like PJ, are known and loved by their fans for their choice of cool, unexpected cover songs that they then take and make into their own. During the last 15+ years, R.E.M. have covered songs from rock classics ("Have You Ever Seen The Rain?") to punk anthems ("Funtime"), the unexpected stuff they hear on the radio (Lou Gramm's "Midnight Blue"), as well as beloved songs from their contemporaries, from Jason & The Scorchers to the Replacements, Husker Du to Aerosmith, the New York Dolls -- the list is about as long as varied as the list of PJ covers (and at least R.E.M. would do more than two bars between songs!). However, as R.E.M. grew in popularity, their tendency to surprise their audiences with a cover version faded away, much to our eternal disappointment. (Then again, we're still the same people waiting for PJ to play any *!^% Who song, dammit!).

R.E.M., like Pearl Jam, choose their cover songs for very similar reasons: either they are classic songs that they love, songs that influenced them personally or songs from bands they admire greatly. And just like PJ's cover songs give you clues as to their likes and their loves and their influences, so do R.E.M's. It was decidedly a compliment to PJ as a band, to the song itself, and especially to Eddie as a songwriter and lyricist, that Michael chose this song of all PJ songs to perform, and we're happy to say that in our humble opinions he does it more than justice. I can't think of anyone else who would be capable of conveying the power and emotion of this song besides Michael Stipe.

A final thought... without getting too political, I think Michael found a meaning in the song that was relevant to the cause at hand: the freedom of the country and people of Tibet, whose community is still living in exile, unable to practice their religion or live freely in their own country.

And now, we present to you March's song of the month, "Long Road." (Please note: this is MP3 is taken from what appears to be the only circulating tape of the show, which was recorded in analogue. Don't expect digital quality, but the quality is certainly enough to convey the beauty of Michael's performance.) Natalie Merchant's vocals are just chilling as well.

To hear it, you'll need

a copy of "Long Road" in MP3 format [mp3 - 5,187K].

If you are unfamiliar with the MP3 audio format, please visit our helper applications page, which includes specific assistance for MP3 players and downloading tips.

Copyright © 2004 Five Horizons