For those that are not aware, Simon Cowell, of American Idol (and other reality entertainment show) fame has arranged to have R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts to be covered by a slew of all-star musicians and acts.
In reading the reaction on Murmurs left me pretty sick to my stomach. It’s very difficult to pick out a winner from all the reactions from fans.
“Everybody Hurts may well be murdered by Cowell's ego”
“On a purely selfish note, this will probably bring REM a lot of exposure to a new generation of music buyers.”
“I'm very torn about this... do the ends justify the means??”
“I cannot help but think that the 'Stars' who have signed up for this are also doing it for their own egos.”
Of course there is plenty of reaction to the actual singers that are performing on this which I have chosen not to add.
R.E.M., for all it’s said and done is a progressive act that for the last, what will almost be 30 years, has supported either publicly or not so much social causes both with their own money and to raise awareness for those causes. Putting their support behind a cause like this is noble and should not be taken any other way.
Music and art is a social critique of the world that we live in. Whether that involves, life, death, happiness and sadness, the music and artists represent those feelings and emotions that we all share. It is their intent to raise awareness, and they should. Doing otherwise makes art itself irrelevant.
However, the cynicism that we attribute to other musicians who we might not listen to is absolutely horrific. Do we have to be appreciative of the artist’s music to appreciate the good that they might be providing others? So what if it is Simon Cowell that is arranging this or Rod Stewart performing? Sure, I do not watch American Idol myself or have a complete collection of Stewart's albums but at the same time I do not look at them through an egotistical microscope either.
Should we also shun all the songs that R.E.M. has contributed or covered over the years for noble causes? Have we become so elitist not to examine that our own tastes and preferences might not match those of others and look less at cynical motives vs. the actual good that can from a scenario?
I took offense when Rush Limbaugh made a comment about Barack Obama and his response to Haiti. “The disaster enables Mr. Obama to highlight his "compassionate" and "humanitarian" credentials and to "boost his credibility with the black community," Limbaugh said. Limbaugh's cynical view of what Obama was trying to do is parallel to the response from fans regarding this tribute. And if you fall into the 'Limbaugh' camp and think Obama's response is wrong, I think it is more a reflection of you as a person than Obama or anyone else for that matter.
It is only a song. It is a song for a good cause and it would be nice to see some overwhelming support from it from fans that I would expect to be more compassionate. It would appear that this is an element of human nature that is lacking.
‘Anytime anyone does something good, or tries to do something positive, the world shifts ever so slightly towards love and towards goodness. That is to be honored; good deeds or attempts at positivity don’t have to be boring and cartoonish. Positivity is ours to create. Life is hard, and things are hard enough, and bleak enough. We each need to fight against that, and it is within our power to do so, even in the smallest way.’ – Michael Stipe
I am not really sure what else to say other than I would hope that people take this quote and reexamine their own thoughts and opinions on this subject, take a look in the mirror and ask themselves this basic question and I hope that people have a change of heart.