Man, I gotta tell ya, it took me a lot of work to track this one down.
I think I read about this in Rolling Stone, oh, about 20 years ago (wow, I feel old). R.E.M. had taken to covering “Midnight Blue,” by Foreigner’s Lou Gramm, in concert. While it seems like an odd choice, Michael Stipe pointed out, quite correctly, that it was a terrific song.
I looked for it for years, and finally, through the magic of the Internet, I found it through an R.E.M. web ring.
Why did I do this? Because this is the sort of thing record geeks do. At least this record geek.
This performance is from a November 5, 1987, concert at the Circle Pavilion at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
It interpolates bits of “Heartbreak Beat” by the Psychedelic Furs and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2. I bet it was a blast live.
Yeah, it doesn’t sound all that great, but I’m happy to have it at all.
Here’s the criminally underappreciated original. I heard this over the PA at Walgreen’s the other day and it immediately put a smile on my face. That’s probably what triggered me to take another stab at finding the R.E.M. version.
You can hear it sans ’80s video but with better sound here.
According to Wikipedia, Lou Gramm has left Foreigner (again) and is recording an album of Christian music with his brothers as The Lou Gramm Band. R.E.M. has not been heard from since “E-Bow the Letter,” although there seem to be some imposters running about.